Support Acts: Carcass, Bleed From Within, Hell
Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Oh how times change! One thousand three hundred years ago, a ‘visit’ from the people of Scandinavia to these shores would have been accompanied by sheer terror and scenes of immense panic. Local men would arm and lock themselves in wooden, fortified hamlets while sending their women and children deep into the local forests in order to avoid the worst.
Nowadays, the Metal youth of this country wear their horned helmets (historical inaccuracy, people!), cover themselves in war paint and flock in their hundreds to sing praise to Viking deities such as Oden & Thor. That’s exactly what happened on the evening of the 17th of November when the Swedish Death Metal combo Amon Amarth headlined yet another sold-out show at The Forum – one of the largest music venues of London.
Having arranged an interview with the band’s bassist Ted Lundström, which was both successful and highly enjoyable, I headed to the venue to catch the first opening band of the night.
Having suffered much in times past, the Andy Sneap sponsored Heavy Metal quintet Hell is currently going through the most creative stage of its long and turbulent career, steadily converting new fans, and tonight’s show was no exception.
With its amazing front man David Bower constantly engaging the crowd and the guitar duet Andy Sneap/Kev Bower firing one killer riff after the other, the Derbyshire noisemakers made the most of the five- song stage time allocation – a crime, if you ask me, considering how entertaining and enjoyable they are whenever they hit the stage.
This show was a good opportunity for the band to present material from its upcoming studio album, which included “The Age Of Nefarious” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. Those already converted enjoyed killer renditions of the much loved “On Earth As It Is In Hell”, “Blasphemy And The Master” and “The Quest” – the latter providing a closing theme to a much inspired and highly enjoyable performance.
The second band to visit the stage of the Forum was the Scottish Deathcore quintet Bleed From Within. I am afraid that I do not have much to report with regards their performance since (and I know for the fact that many people who attended this very show will strongly disagree with me) I found them to be a pretty generic band with nothing to offer other than an opportunity for people to unleash their energy in the mosh pit.
The sound was loud and full of distortion, the riffs were simple and predictable and all of their songs sounded pretty much the same to me. Even though I totally respect the fact that they gave their all while on stage, especially singer Scott Kennedy, what they did have to offer did not excite.
Carcass, on the other hand, combined aggression with technical skill and good knowledge of what constitutes a fine melody and how it can be properly employed in an extreme Metal environment.
Kicking off their set with “Buried Dreams” (from the highly acclaimed “Heartwork”) they quickly gained a healthy momentum and a positive reaction from what was really Amon Amarth’s crowd, even though the quality of the sound was not as good as recently experienced at their triumphal headline performance at Damnation Festival a few weeks ago.
With Bill Steer truly on fire, the band provided accurate and much energized renditions of classics like “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” right next to impressive newcomers, “Unfit For Human Consumption” and “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System”.
At some point during “This Mortal Coil”, the band’s frontman Jeff Walker showed his annoyance with crowd’s lack of enthusiasm by commenting on the fact that those who love all things Viking should be more supportive towards a band like Carcass (clue: it has something to do with Geography) – a comment that seemed to awaken the enthusiasm of some, while amusing others.
The band’s performance was concluded by a clever medley combining “Ruptured In Purulence” and “Heartwork”, the sounds of the latter finally forcing the crowd to show its true colours and providing a glorious departure for this legendary combo.
I have been supporting Amon Amarth for quite a few years now and I can safely say that the few times that I have seen them with top quality sound in a live environment it was always been when they were performing at festivals outside the UK. Sadly, tonight was no exception and I say sadly because, as far as their stage presence was concerned, the Tumba noisemakers were at the top of their game.
“Father Of The Wolf” was a surprising choice for an opening track but that did not seem to bother the band’s fans whose positive reaction and deafening screams seems to have taken Johan Hegg completely by surprise!
Tall and imposing, as always, the band’s mighty frontman did not hide his appreciation and delivered a top quality rendition of the much loved “Deceiver Of The Gods”. The highlight of the band’s performance came quite early for me in the shape of “Death In Fire”, a song that always does it for me, while more recent material like “As Loke Falls” and “Varyags Of Miklagaard” was met with sheer delight by the youngest people in the crowd.
“Cry Of The Black Birds” and “Guardians Of Asgaard” were two of the songs which truly suffered from the lack of depth in the sound of the guitars – still, most people seemed not to be particularly bothered by that fact. The band’s main set was concluded with “War Of The Gods” while the fans’ thirst for more was satisfied, to a certain extent, by the two classics “Twilight Of The Thunder God” and “The Pursuit Of Vikings”.
Even though I can easily say I enjoyed tonight’s show, I would have done things differently, had I been the organiser.
First, the bands really needed better quality sound (not sure whose fault it was that they didn’t have it and I don’t really care).
Secondly, I would have cut the number of bands down, since asking a band of Hell’s highly entertaining pedigree to perform a mere five song set is an absolute disgrace.
Thirdly, and quite importantly, please let’s stop organising Sunday night shows to finish so late (23:00 in this case). You lose half the audience, who are running for last trains and some of us have to work in the morning, believe it or not!
Hell Set List:
Carcass Set List:
Amon Amarth Set List:
12. “Twilight Of The Thunder God”
13. “The Pursuit Of Vikings”