A Viking Raid In Nashville: Amon Amarth Tour Rides Through, Bringing Huntress and Battlecross
Band Photo: Amon Amarth (?)
The night of August 8th was to mark the first appearance of Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom in Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works. In what was to be a night packed with unfortunate surprises, the venue ended up being changed (and subsequently downsized) to a smaller venue known as the Exit/In, which sold out completely. Adding to that, it was announced shortly before the first set of the night that Children of Bodom would not play their set, due to the hospitalization of Bodom front man Alexi Laiho.
Some of the attendees decided to take a refund and leave after the announcement had been made, clearly Bodom loyalists. Most of the audience stayed for the duration of the show, as it was also announced that Battlecross, Huntress, and Amon Amarth would be playing longer sets to make up for the absence of the co-headliners. Those who stayed were at least treated to a blistering few sets, easily making up for the price of admission. Amon Amarth prepared an especially powerful set that turned the packed venue's air into a murky soup of hot sweat.
Battlecross took the stage first, as concert-goers squeezed themselves tightly into the main level crowd area and snaked up the stairs to the balcony, which was easily two rows deep with people by the second band. Battlecross enthusiastically bludgeoned the area with sound for a straight 45 minutes, including a faithfully-performed cover of Pantera's "Fucking Hostile." They were joined by guest drummer Kevin Talley (of Dying Fetus, Feared, Six Feet Under) for the tour, who more than held his own. Between guitarists Tony Asta, with his scalloped fretboard above the 12th fret, and Hiran Deraniyagala, along with the quick-fingered bassist Don Slater, the crowd got their recommended daily dosage of shred.
Upon ending their set, Battlecross vocalist Kyle "Gumby" Gunther told us that we were about to "get our dicks ripped off" by the vixen vocalist of the next act -- Jill Janus of Huntress. True to form, she was an intense presence who elegantly strolled on stage and immediately burst into a shrieking "aaaaahhhhhhh!" Practically the spawn of Elvira and King Diamond, clad in black witch-cape, she spent most of the set motioning as if she were acting out a staged theatre show while the backing bandmates let loose a more classic metal assault than the openers. Between her impressive vocal range, goofy/scary performance, and the band's uncompromisingly heavy backing, it was easy to see why they were here -- They fit the bill perfectly.
Exciting the crowd a bit, Janus noted that the band was touring in support of their latest album, "Starbound Beast", but would be on to their third album as soon as early next year. The songs from "Spell Eater" seemed to get a bit more crowd response, but the band fared very well overall among the crowd.
At this point, the venue had started to become a sauna. Nashville had already been maintaining a daily temperature in the high-80s and high-90s, but crammed inside of a completely packed venue, that easily rose above the 100-degree mark. Luckily, the Exit/In provided free water over at the bar while their plastic cups lasted, implying that the venue would rather spend money on plastic cups and a cooler than better air conditioning. Thankfully, only one or two of the crowd had actual problems with dehydration, even if it was rumored that Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom had suffered that same condition earlier -- Nashville folks are used to the heat.
Amon Amarth entered triumphantly to "War of the Gods", kicking on into "Deceiver of the Gods." These days, the band seems to change out buzz words in song titles much like Chinese restaurants change out buzz words in their names, but still manage to differentiate them through mostly rhythmic tricks of composition. "Runes To My Memory" was a notable crowd-pleaser, while the newer "Shape Shifter" cut through the speakers like a cudgel, whipping the pit into a war zone.
"Guardians of Asgard" and "Cry of the Blackbirds" saw many hands raised in the air and fists beating up in rhythm. "The Pursuit of Vikings" was one of the more noteworthy (perhaps "horn-worthy" is the word here, given vocalist Johan Hegg's salute to us with his ale-horn) numbers of the night. The band went on to play "Asator," "Father of the Wolf," "Fate of Norns," "Victorious March," "Death In Fire," "Twilight of the Thunder God," and more on into the midnight hour before letting up.
Children of Bodom was sorely missed, but it was certainly a night to remember for Nashvillians wanting to get their kicks in the more traditional style. It is currently unknown whether or not Children of Bodom will be playing the Heavy MTL 2013 Fest in Montreal, Canada tonight, as no official statement has been made by the band. However, Amon Amarth and Huntress will be playing it. Battlecross will play at the 4th annual GwarBQ, presented by none other than Gwar on the 17th in Richmond, VA.
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