Darkness and Mayhem descended onto Dinkytown Tuesday night. The Vikings were coming! And not we are not talking about the inoffensive, grape colored football team. We are talking 6ft+ burly Swedes with Axes (the kind with strings). A long line of fans in black t-shirts circled the Varsity when the doors opened. Some of the locals seem a bit unsure, I saw one passerby pick up her dog and carry it – maybe some of the guys in line looked hungry? The show was sponsored by Surly who brewed a special Asator Viking IPA batch.
Exmortus opened the show but I missed most of their set (Music at 7:30 seems to mean it starts at 7) and the photo pit was closed by the time I pushed my way up front. The Varsity was packed and a mosh pit on the floor pushed fans out onto the platforms.
Entombed A.D. took the stage next. The Swedish four-piece just released their new album “Red Dawn” and their set had new songs and others from their 25 years of making music. The mosh pit had some customers who had a great time trying to push one another out of it but in a very good natured way. One thing that struck me was the fun and polite attitude of the crowd. Even though it was packed and the music aggressive this was one of the most relaxed audience I have seen clearly there to have a great time. Meanwhile on stage singer Lars Göran Petrov joked about drummer Olle Dahlstedt that some nights he plays drums and this was one of those nights.
Amon Amarth’s stage set up includes a giant Viking helmet on top of which the drum set rests. The stairs usually on both sides of the helmet did not fit on the Varsity’s stage and stayed on the truck. The bands stage show is very theatrical with the Viking theme woven through out their performance. From a sword fight in the middle of the stage to a demonic creature with horns the audience seems to be one step away from Valhalla. I saw several drinking horns to match the one on singer Johan Hegg’s belt. The current tour is promoting their new album “Jomsviking”
The lights were absolutely fantastic. I usually don’t’ get to cover metal bands since my fellow TCM contributors are serious metal heads. Turns out all the tricks I have for shooting bands go out the window for metal. Not one of the performers stood still for more than a few seconds and trying to get a face in focus was a lost cause, but great live forgives lack of photographer skills. When Johan Hegg spoke to the crowd he did so with a huge grin on his face as a jolly Viking but turned very serious when singing. What defines Viking Metal is that the lyrics are focused on the Nordic themes and recreational activities – and no, flower weaving is not one of them. Plunder and Pillage, Norse gods, Blood and Gore were the topic. Amon Amarth played for close to 2 hours, and no, they did not do a cover of Purple Rain, which is a good thing since that probably would have involved a GWAR style blood shower.
Overall I left my first Viking Death Metal show with a grin on my face, ringing ears and a new respect for the genre.
Set List: The Pursuit of Vikings / As Loke Falls / First Kill / The Way of Vikings / At Dawn’s First Light / Deceiver of the Gods / Cry of the Black Birds / One Against All / Thousand Years of Oppression / Destroyer of the Universe / Death in Fire / Runes to My Memory / One Thousand Burning Arrows / Father of the Wolf / War of the Gods / Victorious March Encore: Raise Your Horns / Guardians of Asgaard / Twilight of the Thunder God