Defenders of the Faith IV, Glasgow Barrowlands

Hell (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Photo sets on Flickr: Amon Amarth | Carcass | Bleed From Within | Hell]

What a line-up. For around twenty quid, Metal Hammer have given us four bands of various genres and all at the top of their game. There’s not a shit band on the bill. The only potential issue is cramming them all into a 4-hour window.

Losing the fight for set list position were Hell, back after a long hiatus and riding high on the publicity generated from their excellent set at Bloodstock earlier this year. They came on at 7:20 which threw a lot of people as Barrowlands gigs normally start around 8:00. As a result, I heard a lot of disappointed people in the merch area downstairs who were buying their shirts only to find out they’d missed the act they were buying the shirt for.

I can only hope these people get another shot in the near future if Hell shift enough copies of their forthcoming record to warrant a headlining tour of smaller venues. For 25 minutes, David Bower pantomimed around the stage with his black-wearing acolytes and, frankly, owned the place.

There were significantly more fists pumping in the air by the end of their set than at the start, and I could hear one voice behind me shouting out the lyrics to the set closer. Hell are great for entertainment value with the theatrics tying in perfectly with their sound. Very much a band I’d like to see with a full stage show.

Hell Setlist Barrowlands, Glasgow, Scotland 2013, Defenders of the Faith IV

A very swift set change followed – necessary to cram all the bands in – and Glasgow’s own Bleed From Within strode on-stage to a huge welcome from their home crowd.

Bleed From Within
Bleed From Within (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

I’d last seen this bunch of ruffians opening for Megadeth at the Academy where they impressed me. Not quite my kind of thing, but playing a very professional set despite what must be a huge barrel of emotions to be playing at significant venues in their home town.

Swiftly moving between songs, singer Scott Kennedy engaged well with the crowd who were in a mood to be battered by heavy riffs. The band didn’t disappoint.

Scott’s a good frontman, but with his accent I couldn’t help but feel his sentences were left unfinished. For instance,”I want to see you bang your heads right down to the ground…” needed just a few words to complete it in my ears. Something like “…or I’ll knife ye, ye bam!” Hey, I’m English and I live near Govan. Call it the influence of the environment.

They got a little over half an hour to wind the audience up unto circle pits and high-five the crowd-surfers before they said their thanks, waved goodbye and sloped offstage to make way for a band that many think should have been headlining.

Bleed From Within Setlist Barrowlands, Glasgow, Scotland 2013, Defenders of the Faith IV

Carcass last toured the UK just under twenty years ago. I think I’d be right in saying that I saw them on that tour (or thereabouts) opening for Body Count at Newcastle University. They were touring on the excellent Swansong album which was released after the band had split up. A hell of an epitaph.

Carcass (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Twenty years later, they come back with a work of art called Surgical Steel, and with half of that classic line-up. Michael Amott, despite touring with the band for a few years in the run-up, decided to focus on Arch Enemy so left prior to the album recording. Sadder is that Ken Owen couldn’t rejoin the band for health reasons, suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in 1999 which prevents him playing as well as he could back in the day.

There’s no denying that the band still have “it”, though – both on record and live as they proved tonight.

Playing a perfect mixture of old and new material, they covered tracks from as far back as 1988 and as recently as, erm, September this year. All were performed with such precision and professionalism that you’d think they’d never left. OK, so they’ve had three or four years of festival appearances to practice, but all the same they were simply superb.

The new songs fit their style perfectly and you’d never know there’s been so many years between recordings. Good use of lighting and some simple animations projected on the backdrop were the perfect scene-setter for forty-or-so minutes of splatter-tastic metal.

Admittedly, with their Scouse origins, it’s amusing being asked to “headbang like fuck” by what sounded like Ringo Starr, but I’ll let that slide!

Carcass Setlist Barrowlands, Glasgow, Scotland 2013, Defenders of the Faith IV

In fairness, Amon Amarth had a hell of an act to follow. But follow it they did, and in style.

Amon Amarth
Amon Amarth (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

The first three bands had been working with about one third of the stage as Amon Amarth’s kit was set up on a stepped platform painted to look like the ocean waves – ideal for Viking tomfoolery. Another quick set change and sound check and they strode ashore with enough time for an hour’s set.

First question – has anyone ever seen AA’s frontman Johan Hegg in the same room as Brian Blessed? Just wondering…

Carcass were always going to be a tough act to follow, but Amon Amarth did as good a job as could be expected by any band. Making full use of their back catalogue, they unleashed song after song of Viking lore upon the baying hordes… but made sure everyone had fun while they did it.

I always pictured vikings as being angry and snarly, but Hegg and the boys were all grins for the duration of their set. By the last couple of songs – they were the only band to do an encore – they had the majority of the crowd bouncing up and down. Something that worried me slightly as the venue is quite old and those boards were bending a hell of a distance!

I’m not a massive fan of theirs – I just haven’t has the time to listen to a lot of their music – but I enjoyed myself. I heard one (sweaty, fat, topless) fan exclaim at the end as he staggered out “Fuck, man. That was amazing!” and I think he summed it up for the majority there.

Not just Amon Amarth, but the other three as well. A great choice of bands, true metal each and every one, and a quality night out as a result.

Amon Amarth Setlist Barrowlands, Glasgow, Scotland 2013, Deceiver of the Gods
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