The Swedish Invasion of Canada !
Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, At The Gates & Grand Magus…live!!
October 1st, 2019
Grey Eagle Casino
Story by JP
Photo by Jeff Bartelli
It was quite appropriate that the day before the Swedish invasion tour, Calgary, Alberta had it’s first big snowfall of the year. We wanted our Swedish visitors to feel at home. The gig was held at the Grey Eagle Casino, not a normal place you might expect Metal concerts of this magnitude but in reality Grey Eagle hosts one or two big metal shows a year and it is a really nice room. They have learned from past experiences and this time there was enough staff on hand, parking available and line-up’s were short and manageable. The main room holds a couple thousand people and while not totally sold out, the room was at 3/4 capacity, so it was pleasantly full. It had an ample merch area, just outside, and inside it had good unobstructed sight-lines, a huge modern sound system and two massive digital screens flanking the stage with remote cameras projecting various stage images for all to see. Pretty much the perfect venue, in my opinion.
As I was suffering from a minor injury, I was on crutches…there is always that one guy on crutches at shows… and the courtesy staff lead my photographer and I to the elevated reserved seating area with seats (!) just behind the sound board. If this is the kind of good treatment you get, I think I’m going to bring crutches to every show, even if I’m not hurt! In a very rare occurrence, the concert started right on time!
I, the Jury
Steel Versus Steel
Like the Oar Strikes the Water
Hammer of the North
This was my second time seeing these guys and they are touring on the back of their very solid new record, WOLF GOD. It was only the second time they have been to Calgary, the first being at The Noctis Valkyries Festival in 2012 and the band commented they would have to come back again much sooner. The band only had about half an hour but despite that and it being a Tuesday the band was received warmly. The trio looked a bit lost and spread out on the huge stage but delivered a solid Metal set, being arguably the most melodic band of the night. They ran through a 30 minute set and concluded with ‘Hammer Of The North’ which they dedicated to Canada, which I though was nice of them. I hope it won’t be another seven years and three albums before they return!
AT THE GATES
To Drink From the Night Itself
Slaughter of the Soul
At War With Reality
The Colours of the Beast
Blinded by Fear
The Night Eternal
It was a bit weird to see At The Gates in this position, lower on the bill. On one hand they are the oldest band and probably the heaviest as well, however they really haven’t toured that much compared to the others and I feel they are still trying to regain that momentum they lost after 20 years between albums. They band opened with the tile track of their most recent record, TO DRINK FROM THE NIGHT ITSELF and never looked back. We got the first pit of the night almost immediately and it wasn’t much longer before the first crowd surfer of the night was up and over, starting a trend that went on all night. Relentless and intense the band tore it up. I love the harmonized twin lead soloing but I could do without Tomas Lindberg’s trucker hat . What is it with the Gothenburg bands and their farmer-style, baseball-caps? Is it supposed to be ironic? I don’t get it. The band knows that SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL is their most beloved album and they played the first three cuts from it.
This was the first time I have seen ATG as last time they were in town (the only other time in almost 30 years they have performed in Calgary) I was out of town on business! It was well worth the wait.
The World Is Yours
You Will Know My Name
The Eagle Flies Alone
First Day in Hell
As the Pages Burn
This might sound like a terrible way to describe a Metal band but the Arch Enemy show was very…comfortable. I’ve seen this hard working band eight times now. They are so solid and so consistent, even with people coming and going from the band they still kill it everytime. I like the last few albums with Alissa White-Gluz singing very much, even better than the Gossow years where I felt the songs were sighted tainted by a more modern sound. The last couple have been more traditional and although I don’t believe Jeff Loomis wrote anything on the new album, WILL TO POWER his playing and tone are certainly is more appreciated by me. The band played cuts mostly from the last couple of album and nothing older than WAGES OF SIN, but that is understandable. Quite a few people have come and gone over the years so it is probably best to stick to the newer material. Alissa is a powerhouse, lots of energy, running about waving flags and generally being Metal as hell…and look…more harmonized twin lead soloing! I’d say maybe Loomis is under-utilized in Arch Enemy but fits so well, not over-playing. Overall there were no surprises, the band, total professionals delivering the goods over and over.
Runes to My Memory
Deceiver of the Gods
Crack the Sky
Mjölner, Hammer of Thor
The Way of Vikings
Prediction of Warfare
Guardians of Asgaard
Raise Your Horns
The Pursuit of Vikings
Twilight of the Thunder God
When I talk to some older, less experienced Metal fans they sometimes will ask, who is going to replace the ‘classic’ bands, bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest? Those same people just aren’t aware that many bands ARE the new future of Metal, just rumbling under the surface. Bands like PowerWolf, Sabaton, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth…all have big fan bases, big tours and albums sales, all without any support from commercial radio. Sure they may not tour stadiums around the world, but then again NOBODY does anymore except for maybe about 10 Hard Rock/Metal bands like, Helloween, Nightwish, Manowar, Scorpions, Guns’ N Roses, Iron Maiden and Metallica. That’s it. Those few elite bands are on a totally different plane.
As for the rest of the Metal bands in the world, the modern bands like Amon Amarth are the new titans. Sure, calling Amon Amarth, whose debut album was almost 20 years ago, a ‘modern’ band might sound strange, but compared to Iron Maiden, they are one of the new breed, namely bands with harsh vocals. My evidence to this theory is just looking at the stage show of Amon Amarth. It was huge and elaborate. Just like Iron Maiden. It had it all, a huge inflatable monster, multiple actors in costumes running around on stage, giant drum risers, huge screens, smoke, ramps and stairs, multiple backdrops, all…just like Iron Maiden. This was a full concert with everything. Unfortunately our photographer had to go early so we don’t have a huge selection of shots from all the extra activities on stage that appeared later in the show but it was well worth seeing.
Amon Amarth tour and tour hard. This is my 10th time seeing the band…and I’m not even the world’s biggest Amon Amarth fan! I mean, sure I like them a lot, I have all the albums but they just tour so often, it is hard not to see them! They are so entertaining, I’ll go every time.
The stage was a giant horned viking helmet (with the drums on top) with rear screen projectors built into the eye slots, showing various things like flames and sparks and lightning and clouds and so on. It was pretty cool to see. The band actually had two introduction segments. They started with ‘Run To The Hills’ (see, there is that Iron Maiden connection again!) playing over the PA system…and if you know the lyrics, they are actually quite appropriate. It would have been cool if they used ‘Invaders’ , an actual Iron Maiden song about vikings, but way more people know the big hit about Indians. Side note: The Grey Eagle casino is on an Indian reserve so I don’t know if that was on purpose just for Calgary or if they open every show with that. Next was the more traditional keyboard intro music and heralding the band to the stage.
The band chose to skip the first four albums completely the oldest thing they touched on was ‘The Pursuit of Vikings’ from FATE OF NORNS and ‘Prediction Of Warfare’ from WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE and they even said they don’t play this old one much. They played almost half of the new album BERSERKER and the rest of the cuts selected from more recent albums. Hegg was a confident and powerful ringleader and the band negotiating their way around the viking re-enactors, who pounded the hell out of each other with swords and shields. Speaking of shields, the big ‘hit’ off the new album, ‘Shield Wall’ got lots of enthusiasm from the crowd and yes, we had more wonderful harmonized twin lead soloing! The giant sea-monster rising up from the smoke was the icing on the cake.
Are Amon Amarth the new Iron Maiden for the new generation of more extreme metallers? It is hard to formally say but after seeing the Berserker tour I can’t think of anyone else who might be able to seize the crown right now. Catch this invasion as it spreads across North America!
Sept. 26 – Seattle, Wash. @ Showbox SODO
Sept. 27 – Portland, Ore. @ Roseland Theater
Sept. 28 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ PNE Forum
Sept. 30 – Edmonton, Alberta @ Edmonton Convention Centre
Oct. 1 – Calgary, Alberta @ Grey Eagle
Oct. 3 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ The Complex
Oct. 4 – Denver, Colo. @ Fillmore Auditorium
Oct. 6 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ Skyway Theater
Oct. 7 – Chicago, Ill. @ The Riviera Theater
Oct. 9 – Toronto, Ontario @ Rebel
Oct. 10 – Montreal, Quebec @ M Telus
Oct. 12 – New York, N.Y. @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Oct. 13 – Silver Spring, Md. @ The Fillmore
Oct. 15 – Charlotte, N.C. @ The Fillmore
Oct. 16 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Tabernacle
Oct. 18 – New Orleans, La. @ The Fillmore
Oct. 19 – Houston, Texas @ House of Blues
Oct. 20 – San Antonio, Texas @ The Aztec Theatre
Oct. 22 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ The Van Buren
Oct. 23 – Las Vegas, Nev. @ House of Blues
Oct. 25 – San Francisco, Calif. @ The Warfield
Oct. 26 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ The Palladium