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SHOW REVIEW: AMON AMARTH AT THE PARADISE ROCK CLUB IN BOSTON, MAY 7, 2011

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I was a little skeptical when I first heard about the Amon Amarth two-set tour. Sure, I was excited because, yay, double the Viking fun. Hearing their new album in its entirety, though? I thought that might be a little boring. Not that I have anything against Surtur Rising — no, the opposite in fact. Amon Amarth are the AC/DC of death metal. All their songs are sort of similar, but they’re always fun and always a rollicking good time. It just seemed like overkill.

I quite enjoyed their latest release and I looked forward to an evening with them. Ha–  “An Evening with Amon Amarth.” Because of that title and the rather small venue, I was half expecting a stage of luxurious leather couches and the band coming out in smoking jackets. But that would just defeat the purpose.

Since it was a general admission venue and I had no urge to cram myself at the front of the stage, I got to the Paradise around the time the doors opened. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself “old.” I can drink legally anywhere in the world, and though an alarming number of acquaintances are getting married and having kids, I have no such urges. The audience however, seemed to be made up of hopped-up high school kids all between the ages of 16-19, which made me and my friend feel goddamn ancient. Where were all you people when I was in high school and had no metal friends? Typical how things I like get to be cool when I’m old enough to be bitter about it.

Whatever, I think that’s great. Good for them. And good for the girls evening out the numbers. There were so many excited females headbanging right up at the front, it did me proud. And they weren’t even half of a smug metal couple! Progress! They, along with their sweaty male brethren, really made the show the memorable event it was. I have never seen so much excitement in such close quarters. I was at my regular perch on the balcony where I had a perfect view of the band and the audience and, whoa. So much pumped up adrenaline and delirious joy. The dude next to me actually broke the air conditioning vent as he enthusiastically banged on it at the end of every song. Seriously, it was belching weird air bubbles and leaking when were leaving.

As for the band themselves, well, it was a little obvious they were playing the last date of the tour. They looked absolutely exhausted. Despite that, Johan Hegg was the consummate frontman. For two hours and some change, he kept up a healthy banter with the audience, praised Boston, and growled like the hearty Viking he is. They dutifully worked their way through the first set, pumped up everyone with “Live Without Fear,” and after a short break came back onstage to deafening screams and roars.

A couple people left after the first set, which was a shamem because they truly came alive when performing some of their best hits. They really got their second wind as they blasted through“Twilight of the Thunder God,” “With Oden on Our Side,” “Without Fear,” and the one I was waiting for, “Asator.” Which was introduced with a rather snide, but tongue in cheek, reference to the movie Thor. Hey, it’s based on the comic book, not actual Norse mythology. I highly doubt audiences would come watch an arrogant ginger act like an asshole, if we’re going to be true to the story itself.

After a really brief pause, the band came back out for the encores — “Cry of the Black Birds,” “Runes to Memory,” and, “The Pursuit of Vikings.” I think the band themselves were taken aback by how maniacally the audience reacted to them. There was even one girl who kept trying to give Hegg a plastic hammer of Thor.

It’s shows like this that restore my faith in the metal community. There was no malice, no dumbass macho shit, just people having a fucking good time to an extremely tight, great band. It was really impressive how well Amon Amarth knew their audience. They kept raising their glasses and praising Boston and their long history together. Sure, Worcester is where every metal band goes, but Boston is the city. But I might be slightly biased.

To sum up, I was a little deflated after the first set. The band just seemed like they’d had enough. But they more than made up for it in the second half, mostly because it was the songs that everyone knew and was waiting for. I must say though, with their big grins and rosy, flushed cheeks, Amon Amarth make the least threatening Vikings ever.

-LF

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