An Evening With Amon Amarth at Showbox at the Market

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23. Apr. 2011, 7:15

Wed 20 Apr – Amon Amarth


Norse legends tell of Surtur, the supernatural giant who wields a flaming sword and will cover the Earth in fire when the time of Ragnarök comes. Seattle got a preview, as Sweden's Amon Amarth brought their eighth studio album, Surtur Rising, and a set full of classics, to the Showbox at the Market on April 20th. Yes, it was 4/20, but inside, there was only alcohol, sweat and Viking metal delivered by the finest in the nine worlds.

Led by the mighty - in every sense of the word - Johan Hegg, the band (Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen on guitars, Ted Lundström on bass and Fredrik Andersson on drums) tore through Surtur Rising like Sleipnir riding to Hel. Starting with "War of the Gods", and watched over the whole performance by Surtur himself (courtesy the album cover as a huge stage backdrop), Amon Amarth regaled us with songs about the end of the world, fighting to the death, living without regrets and the last stand of the gods before the mighty sword of Surtur. Mixing catchiness, melody and mythical levels of heaviness, the band kept the energy in the sold out Showbox at maximum.

Surtur Rising may be new, but you wouldn't have known that the way Amon Amarth blazed through it. Little touches were sacrificed, like the keyboards on "Doom Over Dead Men" and the dynamics on "For Victory or Death", but the songs were presented with enough power and showmanship to negate any complaints. The band had a hell of a time, too: Hegg prowled and pranced the stage, looking like the titular Surtur whipping the crowd into a battle frenzy, and standing shoulder to shoulder with Lundström, Söderberg and Mikkonen, as the four windmilled their long locks around with Andersson beating the drums of war behind them.

The first set finished with the epic "Doom Over Dead Men", and the band returned after a break for the second half. Starting with the devastating "Twilight of the Thunder God", the songs covered Amon Amarth's underground beginnings to their recent heavyweight albums. Hegg noted that next year marks the band's twentieth anniversary, and they celebrated by playing "Without Fear" from their 1998 debut Once Sent From The Golden Hall. There's no better way to get a Seattle crowd worked up than to say that Portland was louder; and with the roars just about tearing the Showbox off its foundations, the band concluded the set with a medley of "Victorious March", "Gods of War Arise" and "Death In Fire".

Barely had the cymbals stopped ringing before the crowd launched into a chant, begging for more. For a band that played two consecutive sets, Amon Amarth were not stingy. When the encore culminated with "The Pursuit of Vikings", Hegg exhorted the crowd to sing along to the unaccompanied chorus. No worries there; every voice in the Showbox called on Odin to guard our ships through storms and war, as Söderberg and Mikkonen wielded their guitars like blood-drenched axes. When it was over, you'd have thought that we just experienced Ragnarök itself.

My only disappointment, if you could call it that, was that "Valhall Awaits Me" was a no-show. But when you had the band bursting through the smoke and darkness in "Live for the Kill", or the magnificent triple attack of "Victorious March", "Gods of War Arise" and "Death In Fire", or every voice and hand raised to sing along with the chorus of "Twilight of the Thunder God", you find yourself forgetting such quibbles. Not too many bands can command the stage and crowd the way Amon Amarth did on that loud and majestic night, but the ovation they received from the thousand-strong crowd suggests that Amon Amarth are a band unto themselves. Surtur would approve.


Amon Amarth

Surtur Rising

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