Review by By David Khan Photo Credit – Rob Trendiak Trendi Creative - Photography & Hairstyling From November 2014 Vandala Magazine READ MORE ARTICLES Read our Interview with Sabaton HERE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE
On October 4th Calgary was ablaze with a full-speed, melodic metal onslaught of Europe’s finest (with one US band paying homage to the style). Never did I think I’d be at a posh venue like Flames Central watching long-haired, bearded veterans of metal dishing out face-melting riffs in rapid succession. Yes, I’m talking about the experience that was seeing Amon Amarth live with the likes of Skeletonwitch and Sabaton.
Skeletonwitch kicked off the night at around 9:15 with their blend of high-speed densely chorded guitar riffs with spitting, raspy vocals on top. The experience was akin to eating a maple-bacon dish where two very different flavours are blended together in a way that is confusing to the senses at first but then sinks in as something palatable. Many of the Calgarian horde out that night were specifically there to see Skeletonwitch. Hundreds of t-shirts were worn that blatantly boasted the words SKELETONWITCH with some macabre artistry abound. Skeletonwitch played a 45 minute set of non-stop onslaught before politely surrendering to a troop of Swedes.
Vancouver, BC Show - Photo Credit – Rob Trendiak FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE
Sabaton stormed the stage like a panzer battalion and kicked it off with one of their strongest numbers, Ghost Division. Joakim was moving back and forth pumping his fist with coordinated body motions. The crowd could not help but join in and try to sing along (whether they knew the words or not!). Sabaton stuck mostly to their well-known and loved older numbers with only two tracks off the new record thrown in. I was loving the Western-vibe in “To Hell and Back” and so were the other founded Calgarians who were getting a rare taste of perfectly-executed-sing-along metal. That’s right, every Sabaton song played was a singable anthem that left everyone feeling like they could fearlessly sing at the top of their lungs. Though most of the song themes dealt with war, death and pain, Sabaton managed to end on a very light-hearted note by closing with “Metal Crue”; a track that seamlessly works about a hundred classic metal band names into a power metal track. My only complaint about these guys is that they didn’t play for 6 more hours!
Before Amon Amarth hit the stage, I only had one thought in my head: “Twilight of the Thunder Gods”. They managed to tease me all night with relentless, pummelings of tracks off of Deceiver of the Gods, Surtur Rising, With Oden on Our Side and a few off Twlight of the Thunder Gods – but the title track was missing! That’s because Johan Hegg knew he had the crowd wrapped around his giant viking-sized finger. They were going to make the crowd mosh themselves into the abyss for two hours straight. It was not possible that a crowd would have energy left, but like a great frontman, Johan left the most desired song to the end so that the crowd would unexpectedly find a mysterious second wind. I’m pretty sure the security at Flames Central were mighty nervous seeing the way the crowd pummel each other in the mosh pit. Surprisingly, no body parts were left behind! The reason for such unusual outpour of ferocity can be attributed to Amon Amarth’s insanely fast drumming matched with a band that kept up with razor-sharp accuracy delivering a very high calibre of devastating onslaught.
This was one of those nights where I left the venue completely disoriented with ears ringing for the next week. I knew I had just witnessed one of the best possible metal spectacles on tour these days and loved every second of it. Overall, the brutality of Skeletonwitch and Amon Amarth worked well with the epic, anthem-like qualities of Sabaton. The word ‘masterful’ comes to mind in seeing the latter two bands. Skeletonwitch was great, but Sabaton and Amon Amarth deliver world-class metal and Calgary either knew it or else learned it that night…