Concert Review – Amon Amarth (History, Toronto, ON, 12/02/2022)

A beautiful night where all Vikings of Toronto put their backs into the oar and rowed in the name of heavy music together with the one and only Amon Amarth. 

OPENING ACTS: Cattle Decapitation, Obituary and Carcass

The last concert of 2022 (at least for me) couldn’t have been any better, as Toronto had the pleasure of hosting The Great Heathen Tour 2022 at this amazing new venue called History, which was by the way inaugurated in November 2021 and belongs to Toronto’s own rapper Drake, with the bands CATTLE DECAPITATION, OBITUARY, CARCASS and the unstoppable heathen horde AMON AMARTH. The venue is in a nice area of the city, near the beaches, with plenty of parking options and decent places to eat nearby such as The Burger’s Priest, making the whole experience a lot more enjoyable than going to a concert at Rebel, for example.

And everything was so well-organized, from the line to get into the venue to the merch booths, bars and coat check, that between the doors opening at 5:30pm and the first concert I had time to do all that and still had 15-20min left before American Progressive Death Metal/Grindcore outfit CATTLE DECAPITATION hit the stage at 6:30pm sharp with their vicious sonic attack. Still promoting their 2019 album Death Atlas, the band spearheaded by frontman Travis Ryan needed less than a minute to inspire the crowd to create a massive circle pit in the middle of the floor section, and that circle pit went on and on until the very end of their concert (and of the entire night, I might say). Moreover, although their setlist was extremely short, it was solid enough to put a smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with the pulverizing Bring Back the Plague being the icing on the cake of their great performance.

Setlist
Anthropogenic: End Transmission
The Geocide
Vulturous
The Great Dying Pt. II
Finish Them
We Eat Our Young
Time’s Cruel Curtain
Bring Back the Plague

Band members
Travis Ryan – vocals
Josh Elmore – lead guitars
Belisario Dimuzio – rhythm guitars
Olivier Pinard – bass
David McGraw – drums

If you’re familiar with the laws, rules and regulations in Toronto you know that most concerts must finish by 11pm depending on the neighborhood where the venue is located, so you can imagine that with four amazing bands like the ones from last night there weren’t any huge breaks in between bands. That being said, I had time to grab a quick beer before one of the biggest Death Metal institutions of all time, the unstoppable OBITUARY, began their insane performance led by the iconic vocalist John Tardy and the crushing drums by his younger brother Donald Tardy. It was again a short but precise and infernal performance by those American death metallers, blending their old school stuff the likes of I’m in Pain with a brand new song from their upcoming 2023 album Dying of Everything, the demolishing The Wrong Time, and by the reaction of the crowd to each and every song played by Obituary we know they’ll keep moving forward no matter what for many years to come. Needless to say, I can’t wait for Dying of Everything next year.

Setlist
Snortin’ Whiskey (Pat Travers Band song)
Redneck Stomp
Sentence Day
A Lesson in Vengeance
Visions in My Head
Circle of the Tyrants (Celtic Frost cover)
The Wrong Time
I’m in Pain
Don’t Care

Band members
John Tardy – vocals
Kenny Andrews – lead guitars
Trevor Peres – rhythm guitars
Terry Butler – bass
Donald Tardy – drums

Another short break, another beer, and then it was finally time for my first ever face-to-face meeting with England’s own Melodic Death Metal/Death ‘n’ Roll trailblazers CARCASS, one of the very few bands I’ve always been a fan of but that I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing live. Still promoting their fantastic 2021 album Torn Arteries, Jeff Walker, Bill Steer, Tom Draper and Daniel Wilding put on a marvelous show for the delight of all fans at the venue, igniting some sick mosh pits to the sound of Incarnated Solvent Abuse, This Mortal Coil, Genital Grinder, and my favorite Carcass song of all time, Heartwork. Hopefully, Carcass will keep delivering amazing material such as Torn Arteries in the coming years, which means more world tours of course, because Toronto loves Carcass and we’re eager to see them again in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (Intro)
Buried Dreams
Kelly’s Meat Emporium
Incarnated Solvent Abuse
Under the Scalpel Blade
This Mortal Coil
Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No. 1 in B)
Genital Grinder
The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing
Corporal Jigsore Quandary
Heartwork
Carneous Cacoffiny (Outro)

Band members
Jeff Walker – vocals, bass
Bill Steer – guitars, backing vocals
Tom Draper – guitars
Daniel Wilding – drums

AMON AMARTH

At long last, just like what happened with Cannibal Corpse, the unparalleled Swedish Melodic Death Metal horde AMON AMARTH was finally able to return to Canada after three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the wait was beyond worth it as their concert yesterday in Toronto was superb to say the least. Those Swedish Vikings kicked some serious ass from the very first second of the classic Guardians of Asgaard (and yes, they’re starting their shows this tour already with a bang), with frontman Johan Hegg being on fire with his deep roars and a very respectful beard. All songs form their 2022 album The Great Heathen Army sounded fantastic live, in special the title-track The Great Heathen Army, adding an extra taste to their incendiary setlist full of classic songs including Destroyer of the Universe and Shield Wall.

The most memorable moment for all fans at the venue was undoubtedly when the band played their new hit Put Your Back Into the Oar, when halfway through it the whole floor section sat down and began rowing like in a Viking ship. That was amazing, really, really fun, proving Amon Amarth are one of those bands that know exactly how to captivate their audiences and interact with each and every fan in the most exciting way possible. If you’re attending one of their upcoming concerts, don’t forget to join the rowing. Their music is awesome, their stage is getting better and better with each tour, but the rowing is something so unique I think it should be mandatory for anyone who purchases a ticket to participate. I can’t wait for the next time Amon Amarth takes the city of Toronto by storm, and I’ll surely be there to put my back into the oar again! ROW! ROW! ROW!

It’s always great to enjoy a night of heavy music in Toronto, to share a few beers with your friends, and to see several familiar faces in the crowd. However, there was one of those familiar faces missing, and it was THE MOST familiar face of the Toronto metal scene. Our beloved super metal fan Walter Froeberich passed away on November 26 after trying to get help for nearly ten days for a serious abdominal pain, but he was allegedly sent home with just some antibiotics and, sadly, died at home in the end. His closest friends organized a protest in front of St. Joseph’s Hospital today demanding justice for Walter, and I really hope something is done to make sure that type of situation doesn’t ever happen again with anyone else in Toronto. I didn’t formally know Walter, but I’ve shared the pit with him many, many times and I’ll miss him in all future concerts in the city. When Amon Amarth played the excellent Raise Your Horns, I raised my horns for Walter, and I’m sure one day I’ll say hello to him in person when we meet in Valhalla again.

Setlist
Run to the Hills (Iron Maiden song)
Guardians of Asgaard
Raven’s Flight
Deceiver of the Gods
Oden Owns You All
The Pursuit of Vikings
The Great Heathen Army
Get in the Ring
Destroyer of the Universe
Put Your Back Into the Oar
Cry of the Black Birds
The Way of Vikings
First Kill
Shield Wall
Raise Your Horns

Encore:
Twilight of the Thunder God

Band members
Johan Hegg – vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – lead guitar
Johan Söderberg – rhythm guitar
Ted Lundström – bass
Jocke Wallgren – drums

Concert Review – Amon Amarth (Sound Academy, Toronto, ON, 10/10/2014)

The most powerful Swedish Viking horde in the world attacks Toronto once again, setting the city on fire on a chilly night.

OPENING ACTS: Skeletonwitch and Sabaton

Amon-Amarth-PosterAs the fans of Game Of Thrones like to say, “Winter is coming” pretty soon, which means it’s getting colder and colder here in Toronto and, of course, in the entire Canada. So why not turning up the heat with some brutality, Viking music and good beer on a Friday night at the Sound Academy? The bands chosen to make our lives a lot warmer were American Thrash/Death Metal band Skeletonwitch, Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton and the main attraction of the night, Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Amon Amarth.

Opening the night with the same energy of a stampede of raging bulls and still promoting their latest album, the insane Serpents Unleashed, the ‘Witch were absolutely awesome from start to finish, even with very limited time to deliver all their havoc. Chance Garnette’s unique devilish vocals and Dustin Boltjes killing everything on drums were the highlights of their wicked performance, with songs like I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived), Serpents Unleashed and Within My Blood being so brutal I’m pretty sure most of the people who were already at the venue during Skeletonwitch might have an “interesting” pain in their necks and bodies until today. Chance said they’re returning to Toronto in the Spring, so I guess we have enough time to recover until we break our fuckin’ necks once again with more of their demonic metal.

Setlist
1. More Cruel Than Weak
2. I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
3. From a Cloudless Sky
4. Burned from Bone
5. Beyond the Permafrost
6. Unending, Everliving
7. Stand Fight and Die
8. Serpents Unleashed
9. Within My Blood

Band members
Chance Garnette – lead vocals
Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette – guitars
Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick – guitars
Evan “Loosh” Linger – bass
Dustin Boltjes – drums

IMG_2975Having recently released their seventh studio album, entitled Heroes, Sabaton had the tough mission of entertaining a crowd extremely avid for Amon Amarth. Well, although I myself consider their music somewhat generic, they did a pretty good job and got a great reaction from the audience, especially during songs such as 40:1, Swedish Pagans and Metal Crüe. Frontman Joakim Brodén has a very limited vocal range if compared to many other Power Metal singers, but his interaction with the fans, in special his jokes about Canada always beating Sweden in ice hockey, were sufficient to avoid any negativity from the crowd and to keep everyone awake and pumped up for the main attraction. The only problem is, as aforementioned, their generic lyrics and musicality: how many other bands, and you can limit your analysis only to Sweden if you prefer, have songs with the words “pagan”, “warrior”, “fight” or “metal” in their names, and those more-than-generic galloping riffs? If they fix that, they can go a lot further in their career.

Setlist
1. Intro (The March To War)
2. Ghost Division
3. To Hell and Back
4. Carolus Rex
5. 40:1
6. Swedish Pagans
7. Resist and Bite
8. The Art of War
9. Primo Victoria
10. Metal Crüe
11. Outro (Dead Soldiers Waltz)

Band members
Joakim Brodén – vocals, keyboards
Pär Sundström – bass, backing vocals
Chris Rörland – guitar, backing vocals
Thobbe Englund – guitar, backing vocals
Hannes van Dahl – drums

AMON AMARTH

IMG_2983Perhaps one of the most stable band formations in the history of heavy music, with the same band members being together since 1998 (and three out of five since their beginnings in 1992), Swedish Viking horde Amon Amarth delivered almost everything their fans were asking for, except for their Viking ship and fireworks, which couldn’t be part of their performance due to venue limitations.

However, the absence of fireworks and other theatrical items was completely forgiven and forgotten when the band started playing their unique epic metal. It was pure brutal headbanging, fists and horns in the air, beer drinking and lots of singing throughout their whole concert, with everything getting even heavier and more fun during classics like Death in FireGuardians of Asgaard, Cry of the Black Birds, and of course the highly anticipated Viking hymns Twilight of the Thunder God (where frontman Johan Hegg entered wearing a Viking helmet and holding the Hammer of the Gods as usual) and The Pursuit of Vikings, with all fans screaming as loud as possible its famous epic chorus nonstop, for the band’s total delight. The sincere smile on Johan’s face was priceless.

IMG_2984In addition, their newer songs from their latest albums, Surtur Rising (2011) and Deceiver of the Gods (2013), also worked really well, with highlights to For Victory or Death, Father of the Wolf, Destroyer of the Universe and War of the Gods. I love metal music when it’s played as fast as the band is capable of, which was the case for all those songs. I just thought there were very few mosh pits, maybe because it was getting really late and all fans were exhausted after a long day at school or work, and after so many hours of energetic heavy music. Being a headbanger demands a lot of our bodies, especially when you have such electrifying bands like Skeletonwitch and Amon Amarth playing live in front of you, don’t you agree?

Anyway, during one of his many fun interactions with the crowd (while drinking beer from his horn), Johan Hegg also spoke about ice hockey and the NHL, which makes me wonder if this is the biggest connection between Canada and Sweden, or if Heavy Metal is indeed what makes these two cold but totally amazing countries be so close to each other. Based on the happiness and level of energy spread among all fans that attended the concert at the Sound Academy, and as a true heavy music lover, I have to go with the second option without a shadow of a doubt. And now, all that’s left for us fans is the never-ending wait for another Viking invasion of Canada.

Setlist
1. Deceiver of the Gods
2. Runes to My Memory
3. Death in Fire
4. Free Will Sacrifice
5. As Loke Falls
6. We Shall Destroy
7. For Victory or Death
8. Varyags of Miklagaard
9. 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 Black Birds
15. War of the Gods

Encore:
16. Twilight of the Thunder God
17. The Pursuit of Vikings 

Band members
Johan Hegg – lead vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Fredrik Andersson – drums

Concert Review – Nova Rock Festival 2014 (Pannonia Fields II, Nickelsdorf, Austria, 06/14/2014)

A flawless festival at one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

novarock2014

INTRODUCTION: The City of Nickelsdorf and 10 Years of Nova Rock

The town of Nickelsdorf is located in the district of Neusiedl am See in the Austrian state of Burgenland, it belonged to Hungary until 1920 (like the whole province of Burgenland) and it has a population of less than 2,000 people. Those details alone wouldn’t encourage anyone to visit this little town in the middle of nowhere in Austria, don’t you agree? However, over the past 10 years there are three very special days between the second and third weeks of June when its population increases almost 100 times and Nickelsdorf becomes the world capital of heavy music: that’s what happens when the awesome Nova Rock Festival hits the town.

It was from June 9 to June 12, 2005 when the first edition of Nova Rock brought to town names such as System of a Down, Marylin Manson, Nightwish, Audioslave and Green Day, with over 30,000 fans per day. The following year, with huge bands like Metallica, Motörhead and Guns N’ Roses, the festival received over 150,000 visitors, becoming the largest ever rock festival in Austria. Since then, names like Volbeat, The Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Rammstein, Kreator, Testament, In Flames and many other heavy music icons have helped put Nickelsdorf in the route (and in the hearts) of metalheads from all over the world during the always incredible European summer.

This year the lineup was once again more than amazing, starting on Friday, June 13 with the power of Volbeat, Slayer, Steel Panther and Sepultura; kicking fuckin’ ass on Saturday, June 14 with Epica, Trivium, Anthrax, Amon Amarth and Iron Maiden (and believe me, American actor David Hasselhoff); and topping it off with Rob Zombie, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Arch Enemy and Black Sabbath. You can take a look at the full lineup per day by clicking HERE.

As I was travelling around Austria and Eastern Europe I couldn’t attend all three days of the festival due to time and money restrictions, so this review is solely in regards to Day 2, with focus on the performances by Trivium, Anthrax, Amon Amarth and Iron Maiden. Unfortunately (or not), I couldn’t stay later to see “The Hoff” singing the hit song Du or doing whatever he was going to do there.

NOVA ROCK FESTIVAL: Where to Stay, How to Get There and Overall Organization

If you’re planning on attending Nova Rock next year for only one or two of the three days of the festival, or if you’re not a huge fan of camping sites, the two best options available are staying in the capital Vienna (about 70km from Nickelsdorf) and driving for about one hour or taking the train to the festival, or staying in the very pleasant city of Bratislava, in Slovakia, which is only 40km from Nickelsdorf (or a quick 40-minute drive). We chose to stay in Bratislava, mainly because it was our first time in Slovakia and our chance to know that amazing city, and we do not regret that at all: it’s a lot cheaper than Vienna, the food and drinks are amazing, and it is full of breathtaking views like the one of the entire city from the top of the Bratislava Castle during the sunset.

The festival itself was very well-organized, with a huge free parking lot, good camping space, lots of different options to eat, good toilets, decent prices for the merchandise available, and more important than all that, both the blue and the red stages were set up in a way you could see and listen to everything no matter where you were. There were also lots of different activities going on, keeping the fans entertained before their favorite bands hit the stages, including a huge party zone. The only issue this year was the unbearable dust that impregnated the entire festival due to the dry and sunny weather in Nickelsdorf, which was responsible for lots of people wearing bandanas to cover their faces like if they were some kind of outlaws. Anyway, it was better than a heavy storm, especially because driving back to Bratislava all covered in mud wouldn’t have been a nice experience.

TRIVIUM

IMG_1976Because I had some sightseeing to do in the morning and part of the afternoon, I was able to get to Nova Rock only at 4pm, which means I unfortunately missed Epica (and fortunately missed Ghost). However, I was there just in time for one of the best bands of the past 10 years: American Heavy Metal band Trivium started their powerful and fun concert at around 4:30pm setting the crowd on fire, especially the ones in the front row/section. The band’s sonority was better than the last time I saw them, partially thanks to drummer Mat Madiro: he seems to be an excellent replacement for Nick Augusto, helping the band sound more cohesive with him on drums.

A constant presence in previous editions of Nova Rock, the band seemed pretty happy to be back in Austria and, with heavy and technical songs such as Strife, Black, Through Blood and Dirt and Bone and Down from the Sky, Matt Heafy and his crew delivered what in my opinion was the second best show of the day, only behind Iron Maiden. Matt said numerous times the fans were kickin’ ass at Nova Rock, which is an absolute truth, leaving the doors open for more Trivium at future editions of the festivals, maybe one day as the main attraction (and they indeed deserve that opportunity).

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitars
Corey Beaulieu – guitars, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Mat Madiro – drums

ANTHRAX

IMG_1996After a short break, American Thrash Metal icons Anthrax started their energetic show at around 6pm, showing why they have their spot in the famous “Big Four”. What an amazing performance! Mixing some old mighty classics like Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time, Indians and Antisocial with songs from their latest album from 2011, Worship Music (with highlights to the fun zombie-anthem Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t), Anthrax kept a very positive energy flowing among the fans and got the recognition they deserved from everyone in the end.

Two things should be said about their performance: first of all, in regards to the band members, Joey Belladonna proved one more time why, just like Ozzy, he’s a horrible singer but an incredible frontman. The man doesn’t stop running around the stage, cheering up the fans and making the whole experience of watching Anthrax live really awesome! And Scott Ian might not be the best guitar player in the world, but he is a true Heavy Metal hero, banging his head and delivering lots of awesome heavy riffs during all songs.

And last but not least, the tribute the whole band payed to Dio (R.I.P.) and Dimebag Darrell (R.I.P.) with the banners and the song In the End, and the other tribute to Australian masters AC/DC in the form of a beautiful cover version of T.N.T., just proved how humble all members of Anthrax are and how much they love heavy music. Anthrax were not only an excellent warm-up for Iron Maiden, but a superb lesson in Thrash Metal for everybody at Nova Rock.

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums, percussion
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Jonathan Donais – lead guitar 

AMON AMARTH

IMG_1997Then came one of the most anticipated attractions of the day for me, as I love most of their albums and it was the first time I was able to see them live, but sadly it was not as powerful as I was expecting: Swedish Melodic Death Metal warriors Amon Amarth had a very competent performance, playing some great tunes such as Father of the Wolf, Guardians of Asgaard and The Pursuit of Vikings, and Johan Hegg is becoming one of the top frontman in heavy music. However, probably due to the fatigue everyone was feeling after so many electrifying attractions that day, their concert sounded a bit tiring after a while.

I don’t know if most of the fans there were not that much into their Viking theme, but I saw lots of people simply static and some even yawning during the entire show. I would say that huge festivals are not the best place for a band like Amon Amarth, because let’s face it: singing about Vikings is not considered cool by a huge part of the society, so I’ll wait until they come to Toronto this fall during their own tour to better analyze them live. I’m pretty sure it will be a lot better than their performance at Nova Rock.

Band members
Johan Hegg – lead vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass
Fredrik Andersson – drums 

IRON MAIDEN

IMG_2010And at around 9pm, guess what happened? My sixth “Maiden England” concert, which was also my second one in less than a week (and of course the second of this Maiden England Tour 2014), was once again totally awesome. Because it was a festival, which means you’ll find all types of people there and not only true Maidenmaniacs, I just felt the audience wasn’t as great as in Brno, but that doesn’t mean people didn’t go crazy with classics like Aces High, Run to the Hills, The Prisoner and The Trooper. Revelations was again one of the top moments in my opinion, and the energy people put into singing Fear of the Dark always reminds us why they keep it in the setlist even if lots of diehard fans want them to change it for something else.

I’m not sure if the band was running out of time or if they just wanted to end the show earlier to watch the World Cup match between England and Italy, but without any further explanation they simply removed Wrathchild from that night’s setlist. I bet it was because of the match, as Bruce was wearing a weird English white jumpsuit during Aces High and said a couple of times that we all had to get back to our tents to see England beat Italy 10-0. Well, I guess Mick Jagger is not the only jinx around.

Apart from that minor upset (I’m talking about Wrathchild, not about England losing to Italy, of course), all fans were able to witness another memorable performance from the most influential Heavy Metal band of all time, which was corroborated by everybody happily singing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life when the concert was over. Now I really hope “Maiden England” is over (after three years) and they come back with a new album, because although I’m 100% passionate about all those classics, I also love when Bruce, Steve & Co. provide us some fresh compositions. Let’s hope they deliver us something as good as The Final Frontier, and that they keep on rockin’ all over the world with their unique and marvelous tours.

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, backing vocals
Dave Murray – guitars
Adrian Smith – guitars, backing vocals
Janick Gers – guitars
Nicko McBrain – drums

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