So I had the privilege of being present for Amon Amarth’s official unveiling for their new album Jomsviking which has just been released (review here). The Swedish melodic death metal band took over the Underworld in Camden to unleash to the world their tenth album. For those lucky enough to be in attendance they got to witness what I can only describe as one of the most personal gigs I have experienced in my lifetime.
To start off I briefly got to speak to the guys and their team as they were setting up for the night and was told that what they truly wanted for this release was something more intimate. I was told that Amon Amarth could happily play the larger venues and have done so many times previously and will no doubt be doing many more times to come, but for this event they wanted an up close and personal experience for their fans. As many will know the tickets for this event sold out in minutes so those that did attend will truly understand that Amon Amarth truly set out what they wished to achieve. The gig felt personal, it felt special and to me personally felt like the days in the local pubs when you chill out with a beer and watch your friends band take to the stage.
Onto the event itself… to start with, fans were treated to a very special thank you by the Viking legends that are Amon Amarth in the fashion of a free drinking horn to everyone as they walked through the doors, signed by the guys themselves who’d spent several hours slaving over their sharpies to prepare this. We were also met with Viking reenactors who had donned their armour, shields and weapons to greet the crowd now pouring their way into the venue.
As the fans filled the venue you could feel the air of excitement buzzing and essentially feel the mosh pit brewing. Frankly I’m surprised I didn’t see people limbering up for it with stretches. I will say it was a rather lengthy wait for an appearance by Amon Amarth, with the doors opening at 7 and the guys not hitting the stage until gone 8:30. Being a rather impatient person, especially having stood outside for about 8 hours prior to this, suffice it to say the wait did leave an air of boredom as people were clearly just eager to get the show kicked off. Amon Amarth took this gig solo, without a support act and rightly so as it was well deserved that this night needed to be about them and only them. I personally felt that they could have maybe done a little something to keep our yawns at bay while we waited.
This however was the only negative thing I can care to remember about that night as frankly the second the band came out the volume that was raised by the crowd could have rivalled that of one at one of the larger venues. The guys hit the stage hard with a couple of their firm favourites, belting out “Pursuit of Vikings” and “As Loke Falls”. The fans met the sound of these classic hits by erupting with the joy that only a fan of metal would be able to describe when the drums start pounding and Amon Amarth’s signature riffs meet our ears. Johan’s sound was a good as it has always been carrying over the roar of the crowd and making us all feel like we weren’t just hanging out in dark basement venue but riding to war in longships alongside them.
Now obviously being the album launch party, we had to hear some of the new tracks of their album. I’m sure many of us were treated to Amon Amarth’s first couple of videos off the new album for “First Kill” and “Dawn’s First Light”. Well personally after hearing them I was beyond excited to hear what else the Viking metal legends had in store for us as the crowd cheered at the mention of their new material. The first new song being “First Kill” where the drum beat alone from Amon Amarth’s new drummer Jocke Wallgren made your heart race, just resonated with the crowd and left us wanting more from them. The night carried on with some of their great tracks such as “Deceiver of the Gods” and “Father of the Wolf”, thrown into the mix with some of the new tracks, freshly gracing our grateful ears such “Way of the Vikings” and “One Thousand Burning Arrows”.
I can honestly say that getting to see Amon Amarth live was an experience I will never forget, but actually getting to be part of such an up close and personal event will now be one of my most cherished memories that I will no doubt be retelling to any poor child unlucky enough to be left in my care when I reach grandfather-hood. The guys have a great energy and passion for their music and for the subject matter that is unrivalled by any other band that are part of this genre. We felt with them every step of the way as when each block of songs were done, they spoke to us like we were old friends who were there for a catch up. They cheered with us, laughed with us and drank with us from their own drinking horns.
Unfortunately though like all great things, this night had to come to an end, but it did so in familiar fashion as they had saved my two personal favourite songs until last, being “Guardians of Asgaard” and “Twilight of the Thunder Gods”. I don’t think I could have asked for a better way to end it. Having being the first time seeing these guys in person, I can only assume that these generally are their finishing songs for most of the veteran fans who have lost count of the times they’ve seen them. For me as a first timer it just felt like all those weeks, days and hours spent waiting for this night had finally boiled down to hearing these songs as I let the music carry me away into the realm of the Asgaardians. So with these two legendary songs out the way the guys bid us goodbye and gladly shook hands, fist bumped and gave the horned salute to us as they exited the stage.
So how do I sum up this night, how do I put all this into an ending paragraph? Well to put simply I can’t even begin to give it justice. I, for one brief moment, felt like I was one of them and truly felt like a Viking, plus gotta admit the drinking horn they gave out did help add to this. I have to say that upon hearing their set, hearing the new soon-to-be classics throw out at us, I was soon running over to the merch stand to pre-order the album. I strongly recommend anyone reading this to do the same, even if you’re not a big fan, or haven’t even listened to the genre, I’d say give it a try because I don’t believe you’d be disappointed. As for those of you who have yet to see the Swedish legends live as of yet, then I’d say you need to get yourself a drinking horn (unless you already have 1 or 6 of them) and get yourselves down to their next gig because you will not be left disappointed. I can say that I have not seen a crowd hungrily wanting more and seeing true despair that the night was truly over. Well I’ll end this here by saying thanks to a rather reliable source from that night that we won’t be waiting too long until we are graced with the presence of Amon Amarth again as a much larger, full blown tour is on the cards for later on this year. So keep your eyes peeled for when it officially gets announced cause you’re gonna have to get in line behind me to get a hold of a ticket as I’ll have my money, not to mention my lovely new drinking horn at the ready.