When it comes to Vikings, it could be said that you better run for your lives—as there will be plenty of bloodshed, and death finds us all! But a good question to ask, especially of Vikings on tour, is does it always have to be so deathly? When it comes to Amon Amarth and Heavy Metal, the answer is NO! It can be a celebration!!! For a city that’s very familiar with Vikings, Portland’s Metal brotherhood was ready for celebration on Wednesday night (May 19th) at the Roseland, Theater where the band played to a sold-out crowd. Already risen and battle-ready following the release of new album “Jomsviking” (Metal Blade Records) on March 25th, Amon Amarth have sailed to North America bearing a new message for 2016—one of vengeance, dreams, life, death and METAL!
Starting their tour in San Diego in early April (joined by Exmortus, and Entombed A.D.), legalized Portland, Oregon was one of the tour’s final stops, with San Francisco and Los Angeles closing the tour out on May 21st! I sadly missed Exmortus and caught the tail end of Entombed A.D., so I didn’t score pictures, but hearing “Left Hand Path” was a treat! Headliners Amon Amarth followed. The stage featured a giant Viking warrior helmet, massive pointed battle horns, glowing eyes, and brick staircases on either side, leading up to the “brains”—brand new drummer Jocke Wallgren! Smoking with over two decades’ worth of signature melodic death metal, Amon Amarth has reached that certain pinnacle of timeless metal where certain beloved, crowd-favorite songs are expected. And a heavy balance of new and old is exactly what we got!
Amon Amarth’s new album “Jomsviking” falls right in line with the Viking sound they’ve mastered, so new tracks, “First Kill,” “The Way Of Vikings,” and “At Dawn’s First Light,” blended right in following opening tracks, “Pursuit of Vikings” and “As Loke Falls.” With Vikings come battles, this happened during 4th track “The Way Of Vikings,” as two armored warriors fought to the death, one rising to victory after slicing the loser’s throat! Diving back into classics like “Deceiver of the Gods” and “Cry of the Blackbirds,” melodic harmonies from guitarists Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen were on full display! The riffs are powerful, harmonies intensely mesmerizing, and the axemanship between the two is highly supreme. Johan Hegg is obviously a born (Viking) leader, evidenced as Hegg somewhat directed the entire show with his gestures, even silencing the ignited, war-chanting crowd with conductor-like, orchestrated direction. Hegg’s voice and stage presence perfectly lend themselves to the confidence of their music, and bassist Ted Lundström is obviously versed for any battle or tune!
Of course Loke was there recruiting evil, although to no avail! Rounding out the show with energy-driven anthems like “Destroyer of the Universe,” “War of the Gods,” and “Twilight of the Thunder God,s” it’s easy to see why warriors, commoners, and slaves alike travel worldwide to band together, unified in the name of a metallic celebration. The entire band even filled their horns for a Portland toast signifying Amon Amarth’s appreciation for Portland’s steadfast loyalty and energy! I needed my bong for a much-deserved toast back, but we’ll hope my time will come one day too. Amon Amarth is saturated with class and the band comes off as an enigmatic force of positive glory for those that are willing! Thanks for stopping in Portland dudes, safe travels on the seas, and we’ll see you next time! Skål!