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Sold out concerts, opulent setlists, harmonizing support bands and a totally enthusiastic crowd: without doubt the people beat their path to Amon Amarth´s door and, with their über-album „With Oden On Our Side“, the Swedes are about to launch into a real triumphal parade live.
The performance at the Columbia Fritz club on Wednesday evening in front of the „German Vikings“, like singer Johan Hegg fondly called the crowd, will therefore go down as another successful gig for the band.
The package made every Viking´s heart beat a little faster because Tyr as well as Wintersun with their pagan and brute sounds fitted perfectly to the lyrical direction of the Swedish „Mount Doom“.
Like as a support of Die Apokalyptischen Reiter the Faeroese superstars rather focus on their well-known songs which are characterized less with brute power chords but operate with intelligent, progressive melody lines that are technically challenging but on the other hand don´t really deliver what the typical Amon Amarth fan demands.
But still, the introverted Tyr were well-received, especially the clear, velvety and also peculiar voice of chain mail-armoured singer Heri who mostly sang in his mother tongue, constituted the charm of this band. With „The Wild Rover“, in Germany better known as „An Der Nordseeküste“, the band got even the most swaying-reluctant-people to move at least a little bit. And so with Tyr the dragon boats put out to sea to report on dark but also heroic times to the mainland where honourable men and friends for life set forth to loot, pillage and amass treasures which were hoarded with the aid of their deities.
Well, this also sounds more exciting than singing about trade relations and to admit that, actually, the women wore the breeches and divided the loot.
Wintersun with their charismatic singer and guitarist Jari Mäenpää set the sails a little tighter and harder to the wind and so the Viking fleet, inevitably, gathered their way and with anthems like „Beyond The Dark Sun", „Sleeping Stars", the awesome „Battle Against Time" or „Starchild" the band with drummer Kai Hahto pushed mightily and forged ahead forcefully.
Despite the facts that the sound was a bit undefined and thus some clear choirs went under that didn´t fit 100% either and that the keyboards came from tape, the Finns spread at least as much fun as a Northman who, after a foray, sits down at a crackling bonfire and takes a hearty draught from his horn.
Bassist Jukka Koskinen and guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari have learnt some proper posing from their boss so that not only once the guitars were up high even when the songs ranged in the upper speed regions. Despite Jari´s white Malmsteen guitar (which was somehow cool anyway) the fleet landed in high spirits and of good cheer on the shores of the place, which was about to be hit by an unforgiving elemental force.
Amon Amarth are not known for creating intellectual contributions in the matter of poetry but, consistent with the tonal brute-attacks, they sing about good old times when the order of the day was to go to battle, honour Odin and search for a place among the forefathers in Valhall.
The last keyboards of the evening could be heard with the majestic intro but after that the first riff monster „Valhalla awaits me“ crushingly squeezed down any resistance. The band presented itself tight and in top form; playing perfectly concerted and with front giant Johan Hegg they had an extremely charismatic shouter whom you believed every single sung line. „Runes To My Memory“ showed once again that the Swedes are not only good for uncompromising death metal assaults but, of course, also have a knack for melodies.
„Death In Fire“ sounded as the third song and raised the spirit to heights in which you only had to stretch your hand to tickle the feet of the ancient.
With "Fate Of Norns", "Thousands Years Of Oppression", "With Oden On Our Side", "Asator", "An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm", "Cry Of The Blackbird", "Last With Pagan Blood", "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" and "Gods Of War Arise" one hit song was followed by another and bit by bit you could imagine the power that the Vikings used for their attacks.
And when soccer fan Johan Hegg superiorly throning shook his mane and bellowingly raged you started to understand how the monks of the Lindisfarne monastery must have felt when they were attacked by blood-thirsty Vikings for the first time. What an intense performance of the band.
„The Pursuit Of Vikings“ eventually opened up the encore, „Versus The World“ and „Victorious march“ completed the monumental concert experience to which I would say as a fan: a mind-blowing performance, as a journalist: It kicked ass!