Review and photos by David Feltman
Presumably in a bid to win “World’s Longest Tour,” Amon Amarth actually began The Deceiver of the Gods tour in Europe back in July 2013 and it reached the US in January this year. In fact, Target Audience covered the tour when it came through Atlanta this past January with Enslaved. But Vikings, real Vikings, never stop. Now over a year in, and with a few changes to the supporting lineup, these Swedes are still pillaging the American countryside. Perhaps they’re still angry about that jerk Columbus stealing all the credit from Leif Eriksson.
Skeletonwitch has been opening for Amon Amarth at every leg of its North American tour. And even now, with lead singer Chance Garnette absent due to unknown personal/medical reasons, the band is still forging onward as an instrumental group. True to form, Iron City, located in Birmingham, Ala., started the show exactly at 7:30 pm. Skeletonwitch started its set with people still filing into the venue and had packed it in 30 minutes later. This band is a pack of unflagging road warriors and it was a shame they were allotted such a small section of the show time. Luckily, Skeletonwitch never stops touring, so there will undoubtedly be future opportunities to catch its full show.
The real star of the night was Sabaton, the newest addition to the tour. The Swedish power metal band’s penchant for history lessons and songs about epic battles made them a natural fit on the bill. Lead singer Joakim Broden even trotted out a song about Vikings so they could “fit in.” Though relatively unknown, Sabaton deserves to be a metal household name. The band had an amazing amount of energy that the audience gladly reciprocated, creating a cycle of good will between the two. The crowd matched every chant, clap and jump with thunderous enthusiasm.
“We play 150 concerts around the world every year and it’s rare, very, very rare that we get such a welcome. Thank you,” said Broden, taken aback by the positive response.
For the finale, the charismatic Broden pulled a kid in an Iron Maiden shirt and a leather biker cut, not older than 8-years-old, up on stage with the band. The kid posed and mugged throughout the last song, throwing up devil horns. Guitarists Chris Rorland and Thobbe Englund took turns letting him play guitar. As a veteran concert attendee, I can’t recall an opening act ever getting a call for an encore, or at least one as loud and sincere as the one Sabaton received. But, as a supporting act, the band was unable to comply because it was time for Amon Amarth.
Amon Amarth filled the stage with smoke and epileptic tier colored strobe lights. The combination of smoke, flashing lights and large, long-haired men violently head banging occasionally reduced the visibility of the stage to brightly colored blurs and smudges. The visual assault subsided between songs while lead singer Johan Hegg joked with the audience and drank beer from a ram’s horn attached to his belt.
The audience was properly warmed up from the Sabaton set and was eager to eat up as much metal as Amon Amarth was willing to dish out. The audience appeared to double in size as Iron City’s central floor was filled with leaping, crowd surfing vigor. Metal fans pumped their fists for the entire set like they were working shake weights.
This is a great tour and Amon Amarth has definitely offered its fans plenty of chances to see them. But with the must-see-live Sabaton in the lineup, there has never been a better time to catch this show.