GIG REVIEW: AMON AMARTH ‘Jomsviking’ Release Show at Camden Underworld, London
Since arriving on the wider heavy metal scene back in 1998 with the release of their debut album Once Sent From the Golden Hall, the Swedish melodic death metal band Amon Amarth have gone from strength to strength, pumping out a succession of quality albums over the course of the best part of the last two decades, including obvious records such as 2004’s Fate of Norns and the 2008 breakthrough Twilight of the Thunder God. Now in March 2016, approximately one year following the departure of drummer Fredrik Andersson, the group is back with their tenth studio record Jomsviking (Click Here To Read Our Review), set to be released on March 25 and marked by four album release shows across Europe to commemorate the occasion.
I attended the first of the four shows, which took place at Camden’s Underworld venue just north of central London. To my surprise, I was greeted just inside the doors of the building by men dressed as traditional Scandinavian knights equipped with the expected weaponry of helmets, swords and shields, which for me definitely added to the atmosphere of the event. Approximately forty minutes after I arrived, the members of Amon Amarth took to the stage, although this time with new touring drummer JockeWallgren in place of the previously mentioned Andersson, and performed an interestingly lengthy set consisting of nineteen songs, six of whom were tracks from the upcoming Jomsviking album, and I can fortunately say that they sounded just as good live despite them all being performed for the first time ever as the songs that the band have been playing for many years now.
Since it was an album release show, the intention was for it to be an intimate event and the people who were lucky enough to secure tickets definitely knew how fortunate they were. Opening with “The Pursuit of Vikings” from Fate of Norns, the only partially filled room roared into action right from the start. Following up with “As Loke Falls” only made the people in attendance even more excited as the band took a break from standard material to introduce some of the new songs into the set, some of which had already been released for listening on the internet prior to the show. “First Kill” was the song that stood out to me from the new album as being the best sounding live, although several others were also performed on the night including “At Dawn’s First Light”, “One Thousand Burning Arrows”, and also “The Way of Vikings”. This new material was sandwiched quite well in between classic songs that really ramped up the positive vibes in the room such as “Deceiver of the Gods”, “Death in Fire”, “Father of the Wolf”, and “Victorious March”.
It is always important for a band to deliver a good encore to go out on a bang and make sure that the fans aren’t disappointed, and in this area Amon Amarth did not disappoint whatsoever. Two encores, the first of which was constructed of new track “Raise Your Horns” in addition to fan favourite “Guardians of Asgaard”, paved the way for the closing performance of “Twilight of the Thunder God” from the album of the same name, which brought the album release show to an appropriate conclusion.
There isn’t anything positive to say about Amon Amarth as a live band that hasn’t been said already. An utterly captivating melodic death metal band, and without a doubt one of Sweden’s finest musical exports in my opinion. Everyone involved made the show an event, the new material sounded brilliant, and the emphasis on performing songs every person in that room could get behind is a joy to see. If you have the opportunity to see this band in 2016, I highly recommend you take up that chance.