LIVE: Amon Amarth – Limelight, Belfast

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Fans sailed through the Limelight’s majestic doors on Tuesday to witness our own Darkest Era grace the stage with Swedish legends Amon Amarth.

Reminiscent of early Maiden, Darkest Era’s intricate solos and stunning harmonies were so, so tight yet wonderfully flawless. Even their head bangs were perfectly in sync as singer Krum’s vocals soared over guitarist Sarah Wieghell’s riffs with sheer velocity. ‘Sorrows Boundless Realm’ just pulled more support from the crowd; in fact, it was difficult to remember the last time a support act had drawn such a large crowd for an early show. Notes were falling off Ade Muldrew’s guitar like water – it was not only a pleasure to listen to but, as a performance, it was near impossible to look away.

‘Children of the Gods’ empowering crescendos reminded me of fellow Irish Celtic metal giants Primordial, whom Darkest Era name as one of their influences. They close their set with ‘The Morrigan’ as Krum throws himself down with the crowd, fists pumping as the ‘ting-ting’ of Cameron Glass’ drums which underscored the bands Celtic influences. The drums bumpy rhythm and crowds choral chanting highlighted this further, as images of ship sailing, ale-spilling and sing-a-long banter filled my head. Definitely a band you should keep an eye on – a must see live.

Before Amon Amarth had even taken to it the stage was a sight to behold. It was no longer a stage but had been transformed into a landscape; a drum kit raised on a grey stone wall surrounded by lightning bolts and dry ice fog. To the right stood a large grey stone engraved runes. I had never seen the Limelight stage arranged so elaborately before – simply by props I was already impressed. The ‘Amon Amarth’ chants had begun as fans screamed the band’s name alongside “woahs”, “ah’s” and “heys” towards the deep lilac backdrop, as the band were met with a horned salute. Singer Johan Hegg towered over the crowd growling ‘Deceiver of the gods’ with both his hands raised as if he was holding the weight of the ‘woahs’. “Oh it’s great to be back – we’re gonna make you feel a whole lot better” he states, before launching into ‘Death In Fire’, ‘As Loke Falls’ and ‘We Shall Destroy’.  My head began to fall into a perpetual rocking motion as bassist Ted Lundström and drummer Fredrik Andersson clobbered and constructed the backbone of their music. The execution of which was so grand, it encapsulated the stories of the gods and Vikings which they were performing, emphasised further as the runes onstage glowed deeper and deeper

‘Guardians of Asgaard’ followed and the Limelight chanted harder – it almost felt like they were leading us into battle; a feeling which was further intensified as the stage burned a blood red in their follow up “Blood Eagle”. Hats off to their show and in particular the light show – if I could ‘high five the lights guy’ through a screen then I would; good job. Johan’s challenge to “see those heads bang” was thoroughly accepted during ‘Asator’ as heads were banged exceptionally hard, and continuing to do so into ‘Brace of the Endless Ocean’ and ‘Valhalla Awaits Me’. The crowd didn’t seem to know what to do – whether to go completely mad or to look on in astonishment during ‘War of the gods’; to split the crowd positively is an achievement. As the band stood and worshipped Fredrik drum solo it was clear how these guys had rightfully claimed their place as Swedish metal monsters – encapsulating their Nordic roots through powerful music and pride in their history and culture. The lights flashed out and thus ended their –

Nope, another flash. And another – flashing lights like lightning flood through the venue. And then sounds of rain, and thunder, and crackles of electricity. There stands Johan Hegg, raising Thor’s hammer, striking madness and anticipation into the crowd and unleashing Amon Amarth’s power onto the Limelight floor as fans obey his commands of ‘louder..LOUDER”. Naturally, they do scream louder; “without you we’re nothing” Johan continues, “let’s make his last one count. You are true Vikings”. The place erupts to ‘Twilight of the Thunder god’, and I felt my heart vibrate from the fans screaming. “Destroy your voices. Scream so loud the gods can hear you” Johan growls in the change – over to ‘Pursuit of Vikings’, and they did. Well, loud enough that my ears are still ringing, so if I’ve a gammy ear drum and the gods have no idea, I’ll be seriously disappointed. Sensational show from both Amon Amarth and Darkest Era, I raise my drinking horn to you. Up the Vikings, yeo. Tascha Kennedy, GiggingNI.com