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Live Concert Report: 2021 Metal Aid (Night One) Amager Bio

“Many, many years ago on a distant shore
Men did gather secretly beyond a hidden door
They travelled long and travelled far
Dark into the night
Yes, this is the place they've chosen
To build the metal site”

No, Metal Church was not one of the bands at Metal Aid 2021. But their lyrics, above, summed up this event for this photographer and reviewer.

Maybe it hasn’t been “many, many years”, but my last live metal show was 2019 Brutal Assault which is more than 22 months ago—certainly the longest drought for me in the past 40 years (when I went to my first concert). I know my situation is not unique.

Travelling long and travelling far was certainly the case as I flew about 6,000 miles combined between three flights and 20+ hours. When I showed my Covid-19 vaccine certificate to security at the door, the guy next to me said something like, “Wow, you came all the way from the USA for this?” I told him I am dedicated.

Capacity at Amager Bio was reduced from over 1,000 standing individuals to a few hundred sitting metalheads. Most would have preferred the former, but with three compression fractures in my spine, I was more than happy to sit for most of the four and a half hours of music.

Night one consisted of Svartsot, Heidra, Ethereal Kingdoms, and Lotan. Svartsot is the only band I had heard of before this mini festival was announced as Svartsot was scheduled to play at Copenhell 2020 and 2021, both of which were cancelled.

Lotan kicked things off. Again, I wasn’t very familiar with the first three bands and didn’t have high expectations based on minimal listenings beforehand, but all three exceeded expectations. I heard some grumblings about Lotan’s performance from some audience members, and maybe the long interval between shows for me reduced my critical ear, but I enjoyed their short set more than I thought I would.

Ethereal Kingdoms were next. They aren’t in my favorite genre of metal (think Nightwish or Within Temptation, although sometimes heavier with very occasional death metalish vocals/growls). Some sort of story seemed to be unfolding during their set. A bloody heart emerged near the end, but the front row was spared any sort of GWAR or Watain blood bath.

A neighbor at the show told me I would really like Heidra as they would feature more of the Scandinavian spirit. He was correct. Heidra was excellent in their presentation and delivery. Combine Amon Amarth, Finntroll, and Alestorm in your head and out pops something similar to Heidra.

Finishing off night one was Svartsot. Like the rest, Svartsot was way better live than I was anticipating. My seat was particularly amusing as I was right in front of Hans-Jørgen Martinus Hansen who alternated between Irish whistles, the mandolin, bagpipes, and his beer throughout the set.

The sound at Amager Bio was perfect. I wandered around the edges and sat in the front row, and the mix sounded great in all locations which isn’t normally the case—especially at indoor venues.

I do have high expectations for night two as seeing Artillery and Slægt were my main reasons for buying a ticket for Metal Aid. A few tickets remain for tonight, but they may be gone before showtime. The other bands tonight are Withering Surface and Demolizer.

Night Two report

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