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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Amon Amarth & Darkest Era - From The Viking Pit

MIGHTY Odin may have gazed with his one eye upon Belfast's Limelight1 on August 12th when the echoes of the heroic warriors spirits from Valhalla resounded like Loki's steed hooves flying across the roof of the world and Thor splitting the leaden skies with storms of metal.

The Celtic metal warriors who are Darkest Era opened up for the mighty Viking horde that are Amon Amarth - both with whirlwinds of riffs and unapologetic heavy metal.

And, what is there to apologise for when songs are so mighty, so deeply steeped in ancient oral traditions with allegorical undertows ripping the unwary from their comfort zone.

The last time I saw Darkest Era was when they opened for Wintersun and they left quite an impression then. Now, they are even coming through stronger, cohesive and cracking skulls with their pure take on the classic rock/metal of Maiden and Lizzy with melodic death metal twists.

Krum leads from the front, powering through releases new and old.  'An Ancient Fire Burns', 'The Morrigan' and 'Sorrow's Boundless Realm' all stamping all over the gathering crowd with tunefulness and rolling thunder from Cameron Ashlund-Glass' drums and Daniel O'Toole's bass.

Ade Mulgrew and Sarah Weighall lay down a superb set of inter-twined solos and rhythm parts - more evidence of why Darkest Era deserve to adorn many, many more metal fans collections.

With a relatively quick turnaround the stage was transformed to an homage to Amon Amarth's mythical landscape - replete with jagged 'rocks' and rune filled mini-monoliths.

From the opener 'Father of the Wolf' to closer 'Pursuit of Vikings' the Swedish five-piece proved that they are amongst the most exciting live bands.

It only takes a moment to suspend disbelief, plunge into the pit and soak up their tumultuous songs.

This was my first experience of being pummelled by Amarth - and I'd gladly succumb again.

It's not just that they put on a phenomenal live performance; it's not just because Johan Hegg is an engaging frontman; nor is it because they are tremendous musicians; rather it is because the sum of the parts comes together in one ominously glorious moment in time.

As a unit Amon Amarth are solid, tight and well-rounded, each playing their part. Mikkonen and Soderberg are linked by an ethereal bond as they use their six-string weapons to soar through solos, rip through rhythmic melodies and tear down any remaining inhibitions in the Limelight1

'Deceiver of Gods' and 'Cry of the Blackbirds' are majestic as Anderson (drums) and Lundstrom (bass) leaden the night as 'Guardians of Asgard' delivers as if Mjölnir had been wielded to split landscapes of Northern Ireland.

'Blood Eagle' saw the venue bathed - literally and metaphorically - in the life force of Vikings, while 'Embrace of the Endless Ocean' brought the narrative of the ocean bondsman and sailor to life.

By the time the encore of 'Twilight of The Thunder God' and 'Pursuit of Vikings' ended the crowd had responded to every exhortation of Hegg...and the very All-Father himself raised a toast to Amon Amarth and Belfast.
Review by Zakk
Sub-editing and additional reporting by Jonny
Photos courtesy of Darren @ Metalplanet
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