In 763 the Vikings came to England in their longboats. In 2011 they come in a large Mercedes truck with “Trucking and Rocking” emblazed across the front. The truck park with the large Scandinavian tour trucks is my view from the queue standing in line to get into the HMV London forum on the sunny afternoon of Saturday the 9th of April. Walking past the queue there are shouts of “Are you the hate crew” – a reference to tonight’s headlines – Children of Bodom – not that you feel much “hate” amongst metal fans here tonight.
The minute after I got through the door and have time to grab a beer Machine Supremacy were onstage With a set that only lasted 20 minutes I’m guessing some of the queue may have missed it altogether. Fast fretboard work and in your face metal, with some industrial military style edges to it, if Vikings had been on machine powered boats this would have been their soundtrack: a great start to the evening.
I’d come for two bands tonight – Ensiferum and Amon Amarth. Never having seen either band before, it was a treat to have them both on the same bill. First up, the shields were brought out on stage for Ensiferum, followed by the dimmed lights and intro music. Ensiferum took to the stage in kilts and war paint and got straight into the fretboard wizardry, musicianship wise there was a lot to admire.
In an all too short set we are given high energy power metal with Norse themes. Bassist Sami Hinkka was like a loose crazed berserker running round the stage. Singer Petri has a unique singing style of vocals between singing and screaming. And as a crowd we sang happy birthday to ivory thumper Emmi.
The music played between sets can make a massive difference to how long it feels between bands. Tonight, hearing Thunder’s Laughing on Judgement Day was a treat – looking forward to their set at this years High Voltage festival.
Like many people I discovered Amon Amarth pretty late in the day (on release of Twilight of the Thunder God), so CD-wise I had a lot of catching up to do and the reissues throughout last year helped. It’s great to see a band with 20 years worth of quality albums under their belt getting the crowd reaction they got tonight. Seeing the pits took me back to the Pantera and Megadeth shows of my youth – although these days I’m a bit too old to bounce around like that.
On CD, Amon Amarth sound huge with massive heaving riffs. Live, they sound larger still: you can feel the heaviness and power of the axes from their album artwork crashing down and captured in their own style of death metal. Twilight of the Thunder God, being an accessible track, receives a massive sing along.
Guardians of Asgaard is one of my most played tracks on my iPod – “we are brothers, of the north” a lyric that could have summed up the evening. Norse mythology and metal performed by two of the finest extreme metal acts.
Johan Hegg is a giant of a man and tonight he had a giant genuine grin across his face. The gig, like their new album Surtur Rising, a triumph.
Amon Amarth: http://www.amonamarth.com/
Machine Supremacy: http://machinaesupremacy.com/
Children of Bodom: http://www.cobhc.com/