Date: November 2nd, 2016
Venue: Vicar Street, Dublin
Line-up: Amon Amarth + Testament + Grand Magus
It’s a rare treat when one of those shows comes along and every band performing could be worthy of headlining in their own right. Tonight was one of those nights with a top class line up of Swedish metallers Grand Magus, thrash legends Testament and those lovable Vikings in Amon Amarth.
Opening up the show were heavy metal trio Grand Magus. My first experience of the group was back in 2012, the last time they supported Amon Amarth actually, and they left such an impression that I’ve now seen them on a yearly basis since then. They’re not a band that disappoint live and tonight was no different. Despite opening the show and a short set time they made the most of what they had choosing a “best of” styled setlist with their biggest anthems to get the crowd going. The three piece hit hard and heavy from the opening notes of ‘I, the Jury’ to sole new track ‘Varangian’ and the monstrous ‘Like the Oar Strikes the Water’. ‘Hammer of the North’ is the staple set closer and for good reason, there was not a mouth shut in the room as everyone was singing “woah’s” along with the band.
It’s been seven years since thrash titans Testament made their way to Dublin as part of Priest Feast in 2009, to say that their return was highly anticipated is putting it lightly. The room had filled with a healthy excitable crowd by the time ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’, the title track of the bands recently released twelfth album, reigned supreme in our eardrums. Pilling up on their more recent material with ‘Stronghold’ and ‘Rise Up’ these guys show that your age doesn’t matter when it comes to a live performance, putting many younger bands to shame with their energetic stage presence. The core unit of vocalist Chuck Billy and guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick excel together with one of the strongest line-ups they’ve had in years with rhythm section Steve Di Giorgio and Gene Hoglan. Gene’s drumkit took up a large portion of the stage, splitting it right down the middle with a pair of the band on either side, however this didn’t deter their performance instead it just let them get buddy with each other. It wasn’t all about the new tracks, with older gems like ‘Into the Pit’, ‘Over the Wall’ and ‘Disciples of the Watch’ getting airtime and proving they’re just as strong as they were almost thirty years ago.
Viking metallers Amon Amarth have been welcome visitors upon our shores over the last few years with the band and crowd giving it their all with each show. For this tour we were treated with the bands biggest stage setup here to date with a large replica of a battle worn Viking helmet with illuminating eyes and drummer Jocke Wallgren sitting firmly in the centre, to costumed warriors taking up arms at various points during their performance. It was little bit on the cheesy side but it made for good fun with the show taken as a whole.
Opening up with ‘The Pursuit of Vikings’ was a good move, one of the bands classic tracks and had the crowd already singing along to its main riff. After warming up with some well-known tracks it was time to unleash some newer material from their latest epic Jomsviking. ‘First Kill’ was an instant hit as was ‘The Way of Vikings’ and later on in the night the more melodic ‘One Thousand Burning Arrows’.
The band feeds their energy from the crowd with the same being said for the crowd; the more the crowd sang and cheered the bigger the smile opening up across vocalist Johan Hegg’s face. Hegg leads the band forward with a thunderous charge proving that he’s done nothing but consistently grow as a frontman. The other band members were for the most part hidden behind a wave of swinging hair but any brief glimpses of their faces revealed happy grins.
‘Death in Fire’ proves a monstrous live track as always with Hegg having the crowd yell “Fire!” louder and louder to outscream our “rivals” in the London crowd. Obviously wanting the track to be a staple in setlists now and in the future, the band’s latest single and soon to be anthem ‘Raise Your Horns’ received a large amount of attention with a sea of horns across the crowd whether they be drinking horns or people’s hands.
With one last track remaining we came to the end of the night and, with his (foam) hammer held proudly in the sky, Hegg carried us through to ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’. Heavy and catchy in equal measures, the song is the best way to close a momentous show such as this.
The Pursuit of Vikings
As Loke Falls
The Way of Vikings
At Dawn’s First Light
Cry of the Black Birds
Deceiver of the Gods
On a Sea of Blood
Destroyer of the Universe
Death in Fire
One Thousand Burning Arrows
Father of the Wolf
Runes to My Memory
War of the Gods
Raise Your Horns
Guardians of Asgaard
Twilight of the Thunder God