Artist: Amon Amarth
Venue: The Fillmore NY (New Yotk, NY)
Opener: Eluveitie, Holy Grail
Label: Metal Blade Records
Once again New York City was finding that they needed to prepare for a Viking invasion as the mighty Amon Amarth were making a return to the vicinity and bringing along those Pagan Folk Metallers Eluveitie with them. We’ve seen Amon Amarth doing their thing a few times already and while they have been around for years, tonight would only be my fourth time seeing them in action. It’s always a solid night of Metal when these Swedes come a calling and since we have not caught them since the latter part of 2008, we felt it was high time to take part in the show. The gig went something like this…….
Holy Grail: Starting off the show would be Prosthetic Records recording artists Holy Grail and this would be my very first time seeing them do their thing. I love the name right off the bat as it resonates with the kind of energy one expects from a Metal band and luckily their live sound matched. The attacked the stage with a healthy dose of what we now call “Traditional Metal” and I am so much more inclined to that than “Old School” when it comes down to classification. I liked what I was hearing and have yet to hear their official debut on the label, but it is safe to say that if you are enjoying bands like White Wizzard who are also doing a similar thing, than your quest for the Holy Grail has completed since they are now officially here to deliver the goods. I wish them well, and will definitely see them again if the time permits. Onto a little Eluveitie.
Eluveitie: The US got their first musical taste of the band Eluveitie when they released their Nuclear Blast Records debut “Slania” and then embarked on the nation’s first ever “Pagan Fest” and those fans lucky enough to have caught them have been instantly sold on their sound and overall presence ever since. I think this is the fourth time that the band has visited us and the last time we caught them they were the headlining act and that rousing show was nothing short of fantastic. One would think that to go from headliner to direct support would be a bad thing but this is not the case when the main band performing is Amon Amarth. Since that last time that we saw Eluveitie, their new release has come out and it is entitled “Everything Remains As It Never Was”. The album finds them back to the Pagan Folk Metal basics that we all loved on “Slania” and while the music was still new to the fans ears, the band would concentrate a healthy part of their set tonight to it. It was interesting to find that not a single tune was played from their mostly acoustic album “Evocation I: The Arcane Addiction” and I think that this was avoided because a lot of fans missed what the point of that album was actually about. I’ll admit that It took me awhile to appreciate it myself, and I can safely say that it was “different” from what I wanted to hear from the band after a smoldering release like “Slania”. Thankfully tonight would be an energetic and very heavy set from beginning to end. After a couple of songs had passed, leader of the band Chrigel Glanzmann spoke and said how happy he was to see how the Pagan masses had grown. The set was amazing but I expected this and there were big circle pits for a number of the tunes as they were delivered. Of course my favorites are still heavily focused on “Slania” since I have not full absorbed the new release enough to find it my preference. They did one new song and it continues in the path that the fans are hoping from them. They are really something to see based on the level of energy and all the diversity that they employ. It’s really fascinating to see how well a violin and a hurdy-gurdy work within the context of a Metal band and of course as usual, Chrigel not only sings but plays flutes, mandolin and whistles; talk about a band that gets more bang for their buck from a member of its roster. The band thanked everyone, from the opening band to the headlining Amon Amarth to the audience. This evening would be the bands finale for the tour and while Amon Amarth still had some dates left, the Faroese Tyr would pick up the remaining dates before doing their own headlining gigs that were set for the coming weeks. It was safe to say that this was a headlining level set for a direct support act and one that made the band a lot of new fans who were snapping up their releases and merchandise. I look forward to their return and suggest that you keep your eyes open for them as well. Before moving on I had to say how amused I was to see the bands bassist Kay Brem sorting a bass guitar that said “Black Label Society” on it. Yes I know that the band is popular in its own right but there was just something amusing about seeing their name emblazoned on the instrument of a Folk Metal band. OK enough on that for now it was time to set sail with Metal’s favorite Vikings now as Amon Amarth would be taking the stage in minutes.
Amon Amarth: Long before Amon Amarth hit the stage the venue was packed and the fans hungry with a ravenous appetite for Metal and it was being served up with excellence thus far. Tonight continued the band’s support of their “Twilight Of The Thunder God” album and considering the overall strength of the release it made perfect sense for the band to tour and tour and tour. The back of the stage showcased the incredibly dramatic artwork from the albums cover and the band assaulted the audience from the moment that they took to the stage. There is a certain overpowering energy in an Amon Amarth set and there were parts of the night that felt like a freight train was heading right toward you and there was no hope for escape. They opened with the title track from the new album and commanding the band forward for the attack was of course the gigantic Johan Hegg. He is truly one of the most imposing of the singers that I have seen in action over the years and yet behind this often grim visage is apparently warmth that certain tunes bring out in him. I said it like this because when the singer led us into the “Valkries Ride” tune, he commented about how many girls he could see in the audience tonight. This found him smiling a smile which was a rare treat to witness and something I didn’t catch all that often amidst the growling he does. The crowd was a typical Death Metal crowd and this means that the bodies were airborne rather early in the show. I think it was in the middle of the second song that I began to see the people in the crowd take flight and surf down the paths that lead them to the stage. Insane to witness from above I must say but also kind of cool to see the band always getting this kind of response. It makes a difference to the performance as a band like Amon Amarth clearly feeds off of this kind of energy.
They sounded tight as a drum and one has to believe that the constant touring is the root cause of this along with excellence on their own instruments. Speaking of instruments, it seemed as though the axe slinger Olavi was aiming to one up Brem from the previous band by brandishing a guitar that was apparently featuring Nordic runes on it. The guitar looked amazing with its gold features and this was the only one we saw played on tonight. Very different and I liked it quite a bit. The set was a consistent blend of the newest material along with their established classics and even a few surprises. That’s never a bad thing to do and I was glad that they chose to mix things up a little bit from the last time. It’s obvious that many of the fans that had seen them on the tours first go round were in the audience tonight as well and you don’t want to deliver the same exact set over a year later as that is just cheap tactics in my opinion. The closer would be “Pursuit Of Vikings”, always a crowd-pleaser and while some commentary was made about the band returning eventually with a brand new album, the next time we expect to find them in this side of the Atlantic will be when the “70,000 Tons Of Metal” cruise happens. I will not go into what that is right now, but suffice it to say it appears to be a doozy. For now this was it for the Viking invasion and the Swedish hordes left NYC exactly as they wanted to – exhausted, gasping for breath and begging for the band to deliver one more song. Sorry Metal maniacs, the show is over and you will just have to wait until they come back. Don’t worry, Amon Amarth seems to like this neck of the woods so I am sure we can count on that eventually happening.
Eluveitie Set List:
1. Otherworld Intro
5. Gray Sublime Archon
6. Inis Mona
7. Quoth the Raven
Amon Amarth Set List:
1. Twilight of the Thunder God
2. Free Will Sacrifice
3. Valkyries Ride
5. Varygias Of Miklagaard
6. The Dragons’ Flight Across The Waves Death In Fire
7. Guardians Of Asgaard
8. Under The Northern Star
9. Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags
10. Valhall Awaits Me
11. Death In Fire
12. Runes To My Memory
13. And Soon The World Will Cease To Be
14. Live For The Kill
15. Cry Of The Blackbirds – encore
16. The Pursuit of Vikings – encore
I didn’t take as many of the candid shots as I would have liked to and that was primarily based on nothing totally out of the ordinary taking place this evening. We had the expected recipe for Metal disaster care of Amon Amarth and Eluveitie of course and the usual suspects were helping to test the strength of the barricade up at the front. Despite that, here are a couple of quick photos.
This poor Eluveitie set list never stood a chance after the righteous Metal smiting that the band would give it onstage. I know the wave of jealousy just hit you after you read this and came up with some lame excuse for not attending the event.
A quick shot of some of the many different flutes, or whistles that are employed by the band Eluveitie. They bring an amazing difference to the kind of Metal that is being played with their inclusion in the composition. Who said Metal was boring? That’s a falsehood if I ever heard one. Oh and before we go, check this out.
During the show I caught sight of these two apparent brothers rocking out like nobody’s business and not only were the pair headbanging with an intensity that I can no longer muster; they were also singing every song that Amon Amarth was playing in a word for word fashion. I was impressed and it seemed as though I was not alone. Introducing Miles and Aaron (one plays the drums and the other guitar) and yes they were true fans of the Metal and were brought their by their babysitter Gisella who we see in the photo as well. Kudos to you Miss for gaining the title of “Coolest Babysitter On The Planet”. I had to laugh when I recalled the time that I had a babysitter and how my evenings with her were often having the television put on in front of me and being told to “be good” or “be quiet” so they could talk on the phone or read a book. How the times have changed. Oh yeah, Gisella sings as well. I am sure great musical adventures are in store for each of them, and I guess I shall wait for their publicists to contact me when it comes time to do their interviews 🙂
Official Website: http://www.amonamarth.com
Official Website: http://www.eluveitie.ch
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/holygrail