Amon Amarth

Live at the House of Blues in

Los Angeles, CA

April 8th, 2010

In all honesty I did not listen to Amon Amarth up until I saw that Eluveitie was touring with them. I had heard the name and seen the shirts at many a show but first investigated them to prepare for seeing them on this tour.

Amon Amarth, the name itself, is from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and is an alternate name for Mount Doom. The band hail from Sweden and many sources list them as Melodic Death Metal. While they lack the keyboards, choirs, and alternating vocals styles many bands with the Melodic descriptor entail, their harsh vocal style and metal riffs certainly fall into the Death Metal category.

I was pleased with the subject matter of their songs, as they delve heavily into Viking lore and their newest album, “Twilight of the Thunder God”, continues this in epic proportion. Listening to the songs online I found them to have some really moving guitar riffs with a catchiness and talent level that transcends typical Death Metal in itself.

Seeing them live is wholly different than listening to online tracks to say the least. The first factor of course is sheer volume and second is actual sound quality. Their onstage persona is both intimidating and inviting somehow. While the lead singer, Johan Hegg, looks like a giant bearded warrior and sings like one too, his smiling and talking to the audience gave you the feeling he is a nicer person than this initial impression.

The crowd was one of the things that really blew me away at this show. The band themselves did a phenomenal job live, all of the music sounded great and the vocals, I felt, were more powerful. The most influential factor however was the audience itself, as it must have been made up of many fanatical followers of theirs. They knew all the lyrics, sang to every song, and kept a lively mosh circle going continuously. Even Johan was surprised when the audience would sing along in unison to a song from the first word.

They started the set off with “Twilight of the Thunder God” which has become a favorite song of mine since discovering it. The audience went wild, having already been pumped up by the awesome Eluveitie, they were ready for some serious powerhouse Viking metal.

As I am new to them, I only recognized a few songs but the lead singer announced quite a few. I recognized “Runes to My Memory” and “Cry of the Black Birds” which were both great live. He announced “Valkyries Ride”, “Dragon’s Flight Across the Waves”, and “Valhalla Awaits Me” which all received cheers as they were mentioned.

Johan announced that their normal bassist Ted Lundström was not with them for this show and would be joining up with them later in the tour because he had just become a father and everyone cheered and raised drinks to that news. Their choice of substitute did a great job though and had a good synchonicity with the two guitarists as many times the three of them would be hair whipping in unison.

The best song of the set was the last encore song. They finished the night with “The Pursuit of Vikings” and it was amazing how the crowd responded. From the first notes they just started chanting the chorus without provocation; “Oden, guide our ships….”. Johan was impressed and said so, in fact he was so taken aback by the audience’s enthusiasm he had to recover, “Wait, wait, I fucked up…. lets blame it on, I don’t know, the booze” and they restarted the chorus with the audience singing along with even more enthusiasm.

It was definitely a good show and they made a fan out of me, the next day I went out and bought “With Oden On Our Side” and would have bought the newest album too but it was sold out at Amoeba but as soon as it comes back in stock, I am getting it.

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