Live Review: Amon Amarth, Savage Messiah, Huntress

Classic Grand – 27/01/15

After nine albums and two decades in the ‘melodic death metal about Vikings’ game; Amon Amarth have a cast iron grasp on what makes a good night out for the black clad masses who follow them around Europe. Circle pits abound as the quintet charge headlong through a set of songs, whose appeal lies more in their primeval frenzy than any appeal to the cerebrum.

First however, Huntress deliver a short set of Californian thrash metal. Frontwoman Jill Janus looks like a character from Final Fantasy, switching between operatic wails and gruff screaming. The music itself is serviceable thrash delivered with a minimum of flourishes but it’s clear that Huntress would never have gained any traction without Janus. Their lyrics touch on typical gothic metal themes: war, death, the occult, but the attention is always on the ex-opera singer frontwoman as she stalks the stage. A cynic might say that without their undeniably gorgeous vocalist, the rest of Huntress would find themselves relegated to sleazy dive bars, while similarly, Janus’ undoubted skills as a vocalist are rarely deployed in support of anything especially compelling musically.

After touring with the likes of Children of Bodom and Slayer, Amon Amarth are heavyweights when it comes to shaking a stage. Welcomed by chants of “Here we fucking go,” frontman Johan Hegg raises a drinking horn and salutes the riotous crowd. ‘Live for the Kill’ features CO2 cannons, whilst ‘Defenders of Asgard’ presents the surreal spectacle of dozens of fearsome looking metalheads sitting down on the floor of the venue rowing an imaginary longboat.

Their songs about Vikings might be repetitive – and from a distance, pretty silly – but Hegg delivers them in a blackened roar that remains remarkably compelling. It’s easy to spend an hour and half in his company even as the guy next to you threatens to headbang so hard he gets a concussion.

[Max Sefton – @MaxSefton]

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