GIG REVIEW: AMON AMARTH, ENTOMBED A.D. & EXMORTUS Live At the Ogden Theater, Denver, CO
The surging popularity of vikings in our heavy metal culture is an obvious trend, as Mjolnirs and runic writing can be seen all over the place, from pendants to t-shirts. This popularity, at least in our metal world, can arguably be traced back to a single source –Sweden’s melodic death metal band, Amon Amarth. Raging since the early 1990’s, these guys have held a steady, solid line-up over the years, with the exception of the new drummer, Jocke Wallgren, who is joining the band on their current tour. With vikings all over their artwork, lyrics, and stage setups (hell, they all look like vikings too), it is easy to understand why people have developed such a lust for Norse mythology. Frankly, there isn’t anything more metal in world history than the raping, pillaging, plundering vikings, so for melodic death metal, this was a recipe for perfection.
With the solid release of ‘Jomsviking‘ under their belt, the band is bigger and stronger than ever. Amon Amarth hit the North American road in the spring of 2016, but I was lucky enough to catch their show in Denver, CO on May 7th. The Ogden Theater is one of the larger venues for metal shows in the city, but it sold out a few hours before the show. Joining the vikings were fellow Swedish death metal comrades, Entombed A.D., and American thrash/death metal band, Exmortus. A perfect lineup, in a perfect venue, to a sold out crowd; I was a happy viking woman for sure. However, the show started an hour later than expected, and the crowd was getting pretty antsy. There was a whole lot of drinking and shouting happening way before Exmortus even hit the stage. Once they did, the crowd went nuts and truly tore up the Ogden.
Entombed A.D. wasn’t exactly my style of music, but they were fun to watch and the crowd loved them. They were so appreciative of everyone and everything, which was great to see from a touring band. The vocalist, L.G. Petrov, even took time out of a song to show some love to the sound guy on the side of the stage, and in all my years of attending metal shows, I have never witnessed someone do that. I don’t even think the sound guy knew how to handle it. Although it was much later than expected, Amon Amarth was up next and the anticipation was crazy in the venue. “The Pursuit of Vikings” began, and to put it lightly, the entire venue went absolutely insane.
I will be totally honest here, I have been to hundreds of metal shows since I was 14, and I know how to handle mosh pits, crowd surfers, and rowdy drunk assholes, but this show was far too much for me. Even with the safety of the barricades and security guards in the photo pit, the danger of getting hit or kicked in the head was far too real. I spent more time ducking and running from crowd surfers than I did watching the band. I was able to get some great photos, but it was intense. Once the security kicked out the photographers, I had no idea where to go. I couldn’t hang out anywhere on the floor because mosh pits were everywhere. When the band played “The Way of Vikings”, two big vikings came out on stage fighting, destroying a wooden shield, but I still think the crowd was crazier.
The set list was perfect, featuring some amazing tunes and singles like “At Dawn’s First Light”, “Cry of the Blackbirds”, “Deceiver of the Gods”, and “Runes to my Memory”. Their fighting vikings returned to the stage, proudly waving banners alongside the glorious death metal, and between that and the massive viking helmet drum riser, I really felt like I had died and gone to Valhalla. Maybe someone took me out in the mosh pit and I died an honorable death? I could only be so lucky. I witnessed three people being carried out by security, completely unconscious – one covered in blood. The venue had to setup a first-aid area for all the people suffering from possible concussions, dehydration, or various other injuries suffered throughout the pits, and there was a consistent stream of available ambulances outside the venue. I had to run to the safety of the rear bar, but still fell victim to some craziness as a security guard fell and dropped a passed-out, drunk guy into my legs. Ah, it isn’t a real death metal show until that happens, right?!
The show must go on, and even though it was late, and everyone was either exhausted or unconscious, the encore featured “Raise Your Horns”, “Guardians of Asgaard” (ft. L.G. Petrov), and of course, “Twilight of the Thunder God”. It was an amazing and absolutely insane night! This was one of the craziest concerts I have ever seen and I don’t know if it was the Denver metal scene or the sheer energy the band delivered that did it, or maybe it was both.
These Swedes delivered one hell of a show that I will certainly never forget. Amon Amarth truly showed Denver what being a viking is about –all to the soundtrack of fantastic melodic death metal. I couldn’t have asked for a better set-list, and the energy in the venue stayed with me for days. It was true viking metal perfection, and I just wish I had brought my drinking horn! Amon Amarth has tour dates scheduled well into 2016, so if you have the opportunity to witness this band live, don’t miss it.
Also check out our Photo Gallery of the gig here!