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Live Review: Amon Amarth

Newport Music Hall / Columbus, OH / October 19, 2014

By Eric Perzanowski, Contributor

This past winter, Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth embarked on one of the most must-see tours of the winter in support of the band’s most recent album Deceiver of the Gods. With Norwegian black metal band Enslaved, and Athens’ own Skeletonwitch as support, these three bands took North America by storm. This fall, Amon Amarth geared up for round two of the Deceiver of the Gods Tour, with Swedish power metal band Sabaton taking the spot of Enslaved.

The first thing that was noticeable about the crowd and atmosphere of the show was just the pure excitement everyone had to witness three great bands, all of which have highly revered live shows. Even over a half an hour before the doors opened, the line had stretched far around the corner. This was an indicator that this would not be a typical Sunday night show.

Skeletonwitch took the stage first. The band took the stage and announced that vocalist Chance Garnette was dealing with a personal issue and therefore, the band would be playing an all-instrumental set. Because of this, guitarist Nate Garnette did the duty of crowd interaction.

Even with Garnette’s absence, the band played to the best of its abilities to a supportive crowd. At times, because of my familiarity with the songs being played and how on-point the rest of the band played, I could imagine Garnette’s vocals lining up with the instruments.

The crowd reaction was slightly different from a usual Skeletonwitch show (at least the only other one I have seen). There was still plenty of headbangers, but it took several songs for the moshing to start. I believe it was either “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)” or “Burned From Bone” when the pits started.

Most of the band’s half-hour setlist was centered around the band’s most recent release, Serpents Unleashed. Additionally, several songs from Beyond The Permafrost and one from Breathing The Fire were played. There were several key songs from Skeletonwitch’s catalog, such as “This Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill)” and “Baptized In Flames” that were missed, which seemed odd, yet understandable given the amount of time the band had to play.

With Sabaton up next, I was assuming the crowd would have quieted down a bit. In comparison to the styles of music Amon Amarth and Skeletonwitch play, they seemed like they may have been the odd band out. However, there’s an old cliché about what happens when you assume. Throughout the set up for Sabaton, chants of “Sab-a-ton” were shouted throughout the venue. But that was only the beginning of the crowd’s love for this band.

As they took the stage, the crowd went nuts, and deservedly so. All five members of Sabaton fed off the crowd’s energy and brought the show to the next level. As far back as I was for the first couple of songs, I could still see the wide smiles of each member of the band. At one point in between songs, vocalist Joakim Brodén even stopped to acknowledge that he was getting goosebumps from the reaction. The band’s appreciation for the crowd’s reaction was frequently expressed. At one point, Brodén said something along the lines of “you guys would be good for a Friday or Saturday night show,” and joked that he thought we would all be tired from going to church early in the morning.

In addition to the interactions with the crowd, the members of the band appeared to have a fun camaraderie between themselves, with Brodén appearing to be the jokester, jokingly kicking other members in the butt, flipping them off in jest after a solo and things of that nature.

At one point, a venue staff member gave Brodén a guitar, to which he joked that he was the one who taught Yngwie Malmsteen to shred, only to nervously struggle through the main riff of “Smoke On The Water.” But after two of the other guitarists did a little solo, Brodén played the opening to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”

The setlist was picked largely from The Art of War and the most recent release Heroes, with surprisingly more emphasis on the former.

All in all, I don’t think I have ever seen a band have more fun on stage than Sabaton. Even if you aren’t a fan of the music, I highly recommend seeing Sabaton live if you ever have the chance.

Somehow as the night progressed, the energy and excitement of the crowd got stronger and stronger. In between Sabaton and Amon Amarth, I don’t think one person within my vicinity left to get a drink or go to the bathroom.

As the lights dimmed and the intro to Amon Amarth’s set started, the entire crowd packed in as close as they could for the spectacle we were all about to witness. Considering it was the Deceiver of the Gods tour, it only made sense that the band opened with the title track.

Many times at a show, before a song, the vocalist will say something along the lines of “I don’t want to see anyone standing still for this one.” However, during Amon Amarth’s set, this request was not needed, as it was likely impossible to stand still, both from the energy of the band and the crowd.

Because of the length of the set, the band was able to have a nice variety for their setlist. A lot of stuff from Deceiver of the Gods, Surtur Rising and Twilight of the Thunder God was played, but there was still material from albums like Versus the World, Fate of Norns and With Oden On Our Side that they played.

Vocalist Johan Hegg had a large, hollow horn holstered on his left side from which he drank several times throughout the show. The crowd loved this, along with a couple other Viking-related aspects of the show, such as when Hegg brought out a large mallet, which was swung down during the opening of “Twilight of the Thunder God” during the encore.

A personal highlight of the set was during the beginning of “Cry of the Blackbirds” when my friend and several other people lifted me up to crowd surf. A person of my build doesn’t get the opportunity to crowd surf at just any show, but as I’ve eluded to before, this wasn’t just “any show.”

The night ended with “The Pursuit of Vikings” followed by what felt like a five-minute round of applause. At many shows, I notice the crowd tends to tire about halfway through the headliner, however, the show could have gone on for another half hour and I don’t anyone would have objected.

Overall, the Columbus stop on the Deceiver of the Gods tour was one that I won’t soon forget. Shows like these don’t come around often, but that makes it all the more special when they do.

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