Amon Amarth @ Mojoes, Joliet (US)

AMON AMARTH / SABATON / SKELETONWITCH

Date: 30th October, 2014
Venue: Mojoes
Ticket: $29 (€23)
Promoter: n/a


MariaVThis was an extremely tempting touring package, and seeing a long line of metalheads waiting to enter Mojoe’s was not a socking surprise. You see, the US audience has a sweet tooth for the Folk and especially for the Viking aesthetics, and AMON AMARTH fall exactly on this category. Add to this, the always energetic military history lovers SABATON and the perfect for moshing SKELETONWITCH, and you’ll understand the close to sold-out show at Joliet, IL. Ok, the longer than usual waiting to enter the venue (I guess an ‘all-ages’ show includes a tighter security) was the reason for losing the biggest part of SKELETONWITCH’s instrumental set. In case you have missed the news, the band’s frontman Chance Garnette had to leave this tour to attend some personal matters (according to the band), so instead of quitting all together SKELETONWITCH decided to continue. At first, I thought this would be boring but with the help of their fans, SKELETONWITCH did extremely well and the first signs of mosh-pit were a solid proof. Yeah, the groove and the guitar riffs were good and powerful enough to offer a solid counterbalance for the missing singer. In any case, these guys deserve additional credit for “surviving” this mishap by stepping up their game and sweating their arses off to give some satisfaction to all the SKELETONWITCH fans that night.


MariaV: SABATON have been working really hard to break the always hard shell of the US market, and to be honest, I thought this would have been a lot easier. But the military looks and lyrics are still - and sadly - misinterpreted, so maybe this audience needs more convincing, and putting up great shows is the best way to do this. Indeed, the short intro led to my personal favorite “Ghost Division” that saw SABATON storming the stage wearing - as always - the widest of smiles, and having their fuel-tanks full of Swedish Metal energy. As it happens in every SABATON show, there is a lot of action as the band members are in constant motion regardless of the size of the stage that in this case looked very small but didn't manage to contain the Swedes. Joakim was the heart of this Swedish storm and the first signs of - what I like to call - 'aerobic' Metal got flesh and bones during the addictive groove of “Hell And Back”. This was another supporting slot upon US soil and SABATON wouldn’t take prisoners, so after a minimum break, the sing-along “Carolus Rex” came next. Another SABATON tradition is Joakim’s jokes that even if have been made US friendly, have at least one VILLAGE PEOPLE reference: “I am sure you’re wondering why a band that looks like VILLAGE PEOPLE is on tour with AMON AMARTH.” And the answer to this was the powerful “40:1” that was greeted with enthusiasm and awesome singing-along, especially from the Polish metalheads that have a strong presence at SABATON shows.

“I got to say it’s hot as hell here but Swedish people like hot and tight spaces...” said Joakim and then he got a little bit serious adding: “We have a song for Vikings in case you think we don’t fit in this tour” as a short and most fitting preamble to “Swedish Pagans” with the always fun "ooooo" chanting. Then, it was time to spice things up, so Joakim got a guitar and tried to challenge Chris with some “Smoke On The Water” action before hitting faster bps with a METALLICA snippet from “Master Of Puppets”. “Resist And Bite” marked the return to the setlist featuring three guitars that I think sounded a little bit too much (especially during the keyboard parts). After the must-have on setlist “Art Of War”, it was time for the definition of aerobic Metal with “Primo Victoria” and no matter the fatigue of a working day, it was kinda hard to say 'no' to Joakim when he was saying/shouting “Jump” before the chorus and most of the audience did marking the highlight of the SABATON’s set. “Metal Crüe” was the final song of the night for the Swedes and for this, a young SABATON fan was invited onstage (and got Joakim’s sunglasses for souvenir) and I hope he learned from the opening lyrics of this one: “Takes some VENOM and ACCEPT. SABATON are still working their way up at this side of the Atlantic and considering their most recent shows I’d say they are on the right path. Who knows, one day the US may get a full taste of SABATON with all the pyro effects and, on top of everything, a headliner’s setlist.

SABATON setlist:

01. “Ghost Division”
02. “To Hell And Back”
03. “Carolus Rex”
04. “40:1”
05. “Swedish Pagans”
06. “Resist And Bite”
07. “The Art Of War”
08. “Primo Victoria”
09. “Metal Crüe”

SABATON

Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimKOn the other side of the spectrum, there is AMOM AMARTH who have already built a solid following upon US soil, and considering their last three albums, I’d say it would be a surprise if they hadn’t. So, even though there were just a few months after the show in Chicago, Mojoe’s was packed and already sweaty despite the unseasonably cold conditions. The lights were dimmed and the intro marked the time for some Viking Metal that kicked in with a massive sound and the hard hitting “Deceiver Of The Gods”. As you can imagine, there was no warming up period and it was headbanging and moshing from the get-go. Yeah, there was a nice adrenaline rush standing in the photo-pit having one eye on the stage and the other towards the crowd, watching for incoming bodies... good times! The AMON AMARTH way of doing concerts is less saying and more doing, so the crashing riff of “Runes To My Memory” saw lots of fist-pumping and then more violent fun (let’s not forget the trademark helicopter-headbanging). The venue and at some occasions budget restrictions don’t leave much space for pyros, so during “Death In Fire” we had to compromise with some geyser-type smoke effects that looked pretty good as they were combined with the red lights in a  fire-faking fashion. Without taking the foot off the gas pedal, we were served with the massive “We Shall Destroy” that came super-powerful, especially the part where Johan growls “attack” sounding the charge for more relentless headbanging. The always smiling (and occasionally jumping up and down) frontman had the following words of wisdom to share: “Sometimes you feel overwhelmed and there are two choices; run like a coward or fight like a Viking” and you don’t have to have a PhD to understand how the audience reacted during “For Victory Or Death” that without further ado followed in the same crushing­ manner. By the way, the latest album where the guitars have additional degrees of freedom sounded awesome and are sometimes the perfect occasion for chanting along (you know, the "oooo" type). During the killer twin guitar intro of “Varyags Of Miklagaard”, there was some jumping-up-and-down, so I guess AMON AMARTH have taken some moves from SABATON... in any case, this was another powerful song that kept the moshing/crowd-surfing action going for good.

During the AMON AMARTH tours upon the US soil, another tradition has been born and the Swedes really appreciated it; some breweries bring beer to the shows and this was not an exception, so Johan acknowledged this by drinking Guinness from his Viking horn and it was kind of funny/cool hearing some of the fans shouting skål instead of cheers - talking about band/fans bonding, right? Everything was immediately forgotten the moment the down-tuned riff marked the time for the amazing “Guardians Of Asgaard” that sent shivers up and down my spine as I remember the fantastic video clip and L-G Petrov’s guest singing. But the fans turned to be a worthy successor to L-G, singing the chorus on top of their lungs, putting this song directly to the highlights list.

“Do you feel going fucking crazy?” was a simple and - as it was quickly proven - rhetoric question since “Destroyer Of The Universe” saw more action and I am sure this raised the indoor temperature a couple of degrees more; in other words, just awesome! After the drum-driven and headbanger “War Of The Worlds”, AMON AMARTH said a quick goodnight but it didn’t take them long to return onstage, especially after the “one more song” chanting. Johan showed up holding Mjölnir (ok, it was a toy edition of Thor’s hammer but regardless was a nice twist) and in perfect synchronicity with a thunder-clapping effect, shook the stage (well, not literally) and introduced “Twilight Of The Thunder God” and we were back to the moshing action, no questions asked. “Thank you for making us feel like home but this is the end of our set” said Johan who received a loud “boo” as an answer. “You want another one? Scream loud and we will play one more”. Of course everyone did and Mr. Mikkonen started playing what I think is the most characteristic (or should I say trademark) riff in AMON AMARTH’s discography. Yeah, it was time for “The Pursuit Of Vikings” and more helicopter-headbanging action that made the band and the audience look like a single entity, especially during the chorus lines. Indeed, this is Swedish Death Metal, so one doesn’t need to know exactly the lyrics.

Having AMON AMARTH and SABATON on the same billing proved to be an explosive combination and to some extent physically demanding (ok, this goes to all the around 40s metalheads) with all the headbanging and the jumping-up-and-down festivities. Both bands are still grooving in terms of publicity in the US (especially the latter, since the Vikings have a serious headstart), so it will only get better and better - you have been warned.

"Odin, Guide our ships
Our axes, spears and swords
Guide us through storms that whip
And in brutal war"

AMON AMARTH setlist:

01. “Deceiver Of The Gods”
02. “Runes To My Memory”
03. “Death In Fire”
04. “Free Will Sacrifice”
05. “As Loke Falls”
06. “We Shall Destroy”
07. “For Victory Or Death”
08. “Varyags Of Miklagaard”
09. “The Fate Of Norns”
10. “Father Of The Wolf”
11. “Guardians Of Asgaard”
12. “Warriors Of The North”
13. “Destroyer Of The Universe”
14. Cry Of The Blackbirds
15. War Of The Gods
16. Twilight Of The Thunder God
17. The Pursuit Of Vikings

AMON AMARTH

Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amon Amarth @ Mojoes (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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