Sweden’s Amon Amarth shook the stage at The Playstation Theater in Times Square in New York City Friday night, delivering an unrelenting blast of punishing heavy metal before a sold-out crowd of 2100 thrashing metal heads. When it was over, the debilitated crowd shambled out across a floor that was sodden with sweat, spit, empty cups, beer cans, torn t-shirts and trash. Amon Amarth came to conquer New York City and like a ravaging horde, left no one unscarred.

Amon Amarth is five-piece metal band from Sweden who play melodic death metal and sing songs inspired by Viking history and Norse mythology. Its galloping rhythm and  accordant, frenetic twin-guitar attack recalls Iron Maiden while the guttural, growling tones of the vocals, consistent with death metal, are powerful and pleasantly intelligible (unlike some death metal acts whose singers deliver in a register so low and brusque as to upend human understanding without benefit of a Death Metal Rosetta Stone™). Amon Amarth is also not above rendering towering anthems built on classic heavy metal riffing and contagious chanting (as on Raise Your Horns, on the latest album Jomsviking).

amon amarth live NYC

The band is often categorized as “Viking Metal” for its lyrical content, though in interviews singer Johan Hegg has shown some discomfort with the appellation. Nevertheless, the band fully embraces its Viking persona and as witnessed in New York City on Friday night, seems to revel in it. Amon Amarth, lead by singer Johan Hegg, guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg and bassist Ted Lundström, have been together for over 20 years and signed to noted record label Metal Blade since 1998 (drummer Fredrik Andersson left in 2015 and has been currently replaced by Joakim ‘Jocke’ Wallgren). For all of their 10 studio albums, and especially since 2004’s Fate of Norns, the band has been gaining an ever-widening fanbase, many of whom have come to love them because of their Vikingness. They certainly sell a lot of t-shirts.

The band appeared on stage at 10:00, appropriately, to the opening riff of The Pursuit of Vikings from “Fate of Norns” and the crowd surged forward, moshing and surfing as bodies came crashing into the photo pit. On stage, a drum riser tricked out to resemble a giant Viking helmet, complete with two sets of stairs at either end (with Wallgren at the center) made for an enjoyable, welcome sight as guitarists Mikkonen and Söderberg and bassist Lundström made great use of the stairs taking positions at the top throughout the night.

amon amarth live NYC

Frontman Hegg, like the other members, wears black jeans and a black t-shirt. Unlike the others, he keeps a large drinking horn holstered to his hip. In the past, he would move to the side of the stage, fill up the horn during the show and toast the crowd. The constant filling up of the horn must have been time consuming as he stopped doing this as frequently. He would later do this during the last songs of the night. Hegg is a large man with a full beard and long hair and spends his free time headbanging between verses and choruses and looks every inch a Viking.

After the second song, the lights came up and Hegg addressed the audience. “New York City! Fuckin’ Hell, it’s great to see you people!” His every pause after speaking was met with cheers and more so when he introduced songs from the new album (Jomsviking, Metal Blade). Crowd enthusiasm was high and through all the moshing and crowd surfing, people were also throwing bottles of water and half-empty cups on stage. About two minutes in, Hegg took a spill on a wet part of the stage but quickly recovered and for the rest of the song (First Kill), a stage hand was toweling down the area to keep the band from slipping all over. The crowd clearly took note of this because afterward no more watery projectiles made their way forward.

 

In its 19-song set, the band showcased six new songs from “Jomsviking”, among them the excellent, driving One Thousand Burning Arrows (though curiously, not the outstanding, rapid-fire Vengeance Is My Name). The rest of the material was spaced out evenly to cover cherished songs Runes to My Memory and Victorious March.

Hegg is a charming presence and has a self-effacing manner about his music. Appearing for the first encore, the new Raise Your Horns, he suggested everyone sing along even if they don’t know the words because, after all, “it’s death metal and no one will know the difference!” The band followed this with Guardians of Asgaard and brought out Lars Göran Petrov of Entombed A.D. (who served as the direct support on this tour) to join Hegg on vocals (Petrov appears on the track on the album). They closed with Twilight of the Thunder God, from the 2008 album of the same name, before thanking the crowd and promising to return.

From the band's official Facebook page

From the band’s official Facebook page

When it was over, the house lights came up and hundreds of shirtless, sweaty fans began shuffling to the exits, spent like a defeated army, to the sound of beer cans being kicked and crushed underfoot. The only bad thing about an Amon Amarth concert is that it ends. Amon Amarth will continue plundering North America to support Jomsviking into the summer, wrapping in Los Angeles at the end of May before heading to Europe.

SET LIST

The Pursuit of Vikings (Fate of Norns)
As Loke Falls (Deceiver of the Gods)
First Kill (Jomsviking)
The Way of Vikings (Jomsviking)
At Dawn’s First Light (Jomsviking)
Deceiver of the Gods (Deceiver of the Gods)
Cry of the Blackbirds (With Oden On Our Side)
One Against All (Jomsviking)
Thousand Years of Oppression (Versus the World)
Destroyer of the Universe (Surtur Rising)
Death in Fire (Versus the World)
Runes to My Memory (With Oden On Our Side)
One Thousand Burning Arrows (Jomsviking)
Father of the Wolf (Deceiver of the Gods)
War of the Gods (Surtur Rising)
Victorious March (Once Sent From the Golden Hall)

Raise Your Horns (Jomsviking)
Guardians of Asgaard (Twilight of the Thunder God)
Twilight of the Thunder God (Twilight of the Thunder God)

AMON AMARTH
The Playstation Theater
New York City
April 22, 2016

All pictures (except where indicated) by Evelyn Duncan, all right reserved

Réagissez à cet article / Comment this article

commentaires / comments

About The Author

Mick Stingley
Collaborator - RREVERB

Mick Stingley is a freelance writer with a concentration in music and humor. He has been published in Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, Rolling Stone, BillBoard, VICE, Metal Edge, Terrorizer, Dominion, KNAC.com, Men’s Fitness, FHM, The Huffington Post, Hustler, Consequence of Sound and The New York Post among others. He lives with his fiancee in NYC.