AMON AMARTH @ HMV Forum,
23rd October 2011
Review By Rhiannon Marley
Photography by Sabrina Dersel
The night kicks off with a bang with Grecian dark lords Septic Flesh!
They’re all over the quasi-religious semiotics, with crucifixes all over the shop, and a decidedly subversive, creepy element to the whole get-up; the delicate topic of next act As I Lay Dying’s infamous Bible-bashing, anyone…?
Dense and hypnotic in sound, they’re musically tight, and compelling to watch. Melodic to the core, there’s also something heady about their atmosphere and backing tracks which rivets and unnerves you from the word go. A great start.
As I Lay Dying are a strange one. Are they metal? Metalcore? Some sort of fusion between the two?
Although hard to pin down stylistically at times, one thing they are is incontinent with energy tonight. Frontman Tim Lambesis has sex-appeal going on – to counter or enhance the Christian thing? -, and the gaggle of teenage girls I bumped into in the loo, squeaking about “can’t wait to see Tim”, might add something prettier to the square-jawed and facial-haired crowd.
They serve aggressive, pummeling tunes, which wouldn’t be too bad without Josh Gilbert’s clean vocals…but by Christ (no pun intended), he’s awful.
There are also American accents dotted around me in the pit; whether these have anything directly to do with AILD remains to be seen.
But despite a dodgy rhythm-heavy mix, and the slightly mean (but hilarious) nickname by the macho heavies in the audience of “As I Lay Crying”, they do a half-decent warm-up for the Nordic boys.
The last time I saw the big AA, they were supporting Children of Bodom here at the Forum. Anyone in attendance would know better than to assume I’m talking about Alcoholics Anonymous, but if Johan Hegg’s sizeable drinking horn were filled with any kind of potent beverage, he’d be a new recruit himself by the time he saw the bottom.
Needless to say, Norse paraphernalia is in full swing, and they’re brutalising from the outset. I think I once compared Hegg in a previous review to a 21st century Thor; let’s just say that if you bumped into this lot down a dark alleyway, you wouldn’t want to piss them off.
“Good evening, London !”, in a heavily-accented growl. It’s no surprise that said accent makes the words ‘metal’ and ‘battle’ indistinguishable; whether this is intentional or not, I’m not sure, but Amon Amarth thunder through a Surtur Rising-heavy set with panache and shitoads of gravity.
Guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg do a grand job: sound technicality and improvisational flair. With particular highlights ‘War of the Gods’, ‘Guardians of Asgaard’ and their war-anthem, ‘The Pursuit of Vikings’, plus stunning lighting and visuals, Amon Amarth sport a cool confidence in taking charge as headline act once more.
Their fan-base is burgeoning in its own right, and so it should.
There’s no arrogance: they’re imperious without being arseholes. Despite no special guest appearances as in previous shows (one of Apocalyptica’s cellists for their last headline, and Roope playing the album-version solo in ‘Twilight of the Thunder Gods’ when I last saw them), nothing is half-measure, and they blow the back doors off many other bands in the genre with tonight’s performance. But if that synchronised windmilling of theirs is anything to go by, there are going to be five enormous men in A & E with sore necks by the end of the tour… A cracker of a night!