Vikings, Lionhearts, and the Irish. Not just a rowdy cast of the latest Netflix series, but the ingredients that made for a wild night in Dublin’s 3arena on September 13th. Machine Head and Amon Amarth rolled through the fair city on their ‘Vikings and Lionhearts’ co-headlining tour with a massive production for fans to gaze upon and enjoy. And leave with more than a few tales to tell.
Opening the night were Swedish death metal outfit, The Halo Effect, who bravely took the stage to kick it all off. Sharing a bill with two of metals biggest and finest, The Halo Effect holding their own, giving an admirable account of themselves. Performing with polish and ultimately winning over the sizeable audience that arrived at the venue early to greet them. But if lingering COVID fears meant not quite a full house, this did nothing to impact the energy brought by the mighty Amon Amarth. With a drum kit on a riser outfitted as a battle helmet, multiple inflatable statues, boats, mead horns, and a costumed character prancing across the stage like the red-headed stepchild of Iron Maiden’s Eddie, Amon Amarth came to play for keeps. And they did exactly that. Had a judicator for the Guinness Book of World Records been in attendance, Amon Amarth may have been awarded for creating the world’s largest heavy metal rock the boat during “Put Your Back Into The Oar.” Leaving the Irish audience in awe and applause.
As the Machine Head curtain draped the stage and Ozzy Osbourne played over the house speakers, fans were more than ready to celebrate their return to the Emerald Isle. Opening with a track from their critically acclaimed new album, ‘Of Kingdom and Crown’, Machine Head charged the gates with “Become the Firestorm”, into “Imperium”, “Ten Ton Hammer”, “I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)”. And that was just for starters. With the crowd firmly in the palm of their hands, Machine Head orchestrated a set that had begun to feel euphoric. Losing them for just a moment.
While singer Robb Flynn never shies away from expressing his gratitude to fans, he slightly shot himself in the foot. Both feet, actually, as he told the Irish audience that this was “the last night of their U.K tour.” An uproar of booing caught the now noticeably puzzled Flynn off guard. A moment to which he responded by saying “we leave for Europe tomorrow”, which only fanned the flames of frustration. For those, like Flynn, not entirely aware, Ireland is in Europe and not the U.K, with whom it enjoys a strained relationship following centuries of occupation by the British. To speak so fondly of Ireland and its people, to visit the local heavy metal watering hole for over two decades, better was expected of Flynn. Though a Facebook post subtly correcting the matter may indicate that The General has since brushed up on his history. Thankfully, this hiccup proved a mere bump in the road rather than enough to sour the evening as Machine pumped out one monster track after another. “Now We Die”, “From This Day”, and “Davidian”, and closing out the show with the iconic “Halo” amidst a wealth of pyro flames and confetti cannons, music and metal prevailed, transcending everything else.
At its core, what Machine Head and Amon Amarth’s Vikings and Lionhearts” tour offers is a gift. A gift to fans. Production at the level most metal acts never realizes one that fans only dream of, brought to fruition in a space large enough for all to enjoy. So, go! Accept the gift and rock the boat. Punch a hole through the fleeting confetti and feel the heat of the pyro. Give our beloved genre, its newcomers, and two of its outstanding bands, the celebration they deserve.