GIG REVIEW: Amon Amarth & Goatwhore Live at The Grand Rapids, Michigan
Do you hear that sound? That rumble. Do you feel the thunder? No not from the skies, the sound is from a band of men who arrived at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Amon Amarth and special guests Goatwhore plundered the airwaves to make those in attendance roar with excitement.
This was my first time covering a show at The Intersection and the first time I ever been to The Intersection, which is surprising because I lived near Grand Rapids for a few years while attending college at Grand Valley State University and went to many concerts, but none were at The Intersection. I arrived about an hour early before doors opened and relaxed in my car and ate until doors opened and figured I’d wait until the line thinned down. But after doors had been open for thirty minutes and the line not showing no end, I decided to get myself in line. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer because once I got inside the crowd cheered as the lights went out and Goatwhore’s intro music began playing. I still hadn’t gotten my ticket or photo pass and it seemed like forever for the three people in front of me to get their tickets.
With my photo pass in hand, I marched my way through the packed crowd, entered the photo pit and quickly got my camera out and began snapping away while lead singer Ben Falgoust and the rest of Goatwhore got the crowd into the merry mood of death metal rockin’. Falgoust has a mane of hair that any high-quality shampoo company would sponsor. But unlike his silky shiny long hair, Falgoust’s vocals were gruff and in your face. And just like I seen them a few months ago, these guys were clad in spike arm and leg gauntlets just ready to destroy whatever the hell got in their way. Sammy Duet on lead guitar looked right at home as he riffed and shredded away on the axe. Zack Simmons on drums and Rob “Trans Am” Coleman on bass pounded out that back beat for plenty of head banging and fist pumping action.
I hung out off to the side of the crowd near the front and saw how appreciative the members of Goatwhore are for their fans for the love and support as they helped staff load up their gear. Goatwhore got the show started just as should be, intense, fast paced slamming music to make the room temperature rise, so much so that security began handing out bottles of water to fans.
As we all waited for Amon Amarth to take the stage. I couldn’t help but notice that the assembly of the Viking ship was a spectacle in itself. I thought it might’ve been better if there was a curtain to hide the setting up and have the reveal when the band started playing. But I quickly changed my opinion about that as I saw the crowd hoot and cheer as pieces of the Viking ship were put together. The loudest cheer came when the head of the ship was placed on. This build up in anticipation was finally answered once the lights went dark and the cheers rose as the band made its way on stage.
First out was drummer Jocke Wallgren who stood behind his kit and waved to the fans only to pretty much disappear for the rest of the night as he sat hidden behind the drums high up on his perch. The riffs rang out as the other members came out. Ted Lundstrom on bass and Johan Soderberg on guitar look like they could be brothers if not twins. Olavi Mikkonen on guitar had the resemblance of former wrestler Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine with his stocky build and long blonde hair. And then lead singer Johan Hegg steps up onto the Viking ship which now the head of it has red glowing eyes and raises his horns towards the audience who respond with a roar.
I had never seen Amon Amarth live in concert and I must say, I was impressed. The musical execution was excellent as Mikkonen and Soderberg wielded their axes with laser precision. I couldn’t help but get sucked into the rhythm and beats that Lundstrom and Wallgren pummeled out. Wallgren later displayed his talents during a drum solo that had the fans whooping along. Hegg was well aware of the excitement the crowd exhibited. Stopping after songs now and then to praise the fans and tell stories, it was absolutely a night of great metal music. Amon Amarth has been dubbed as Viking Metal, real life Vikings back in the day might have been a bit confused by Amon Amarth’s music but I’m sure they would applaud and salute the ferociousness that Amon Amarth displayed in their show. Playing songs “Pursuit Of Vikings”, “The Way Of Vikings”, “Destroyer Of The Universe” and “War Of The Gods” to name a few, shows there’s a strong Viking influence from this band that Hegg orchestrates. And there may have just been some descendants of Vikings in attendance as a couple of separate incidences of fighting were taken place but quickly put to a stop by security removing them from the premises.
From hardcore headbangers to screeching fans, Amon Amarth brought a glorious show of destruction by way of land onto a ship on stage. With a venue, full of sweaty and exhausted fans, the night was well spent and Hegg saluted the crowd by saying, “Be safe, party hard and always raise your horns”. To which he raised his horn towards the crowd and then lowered it to drink out of.