Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Live Review: Amon Amarth / Huntress / Savage Messiah, Manchester Academy 2, 25th January 2015

As I approached the venue for the nights gig, there were two huge queues that trailed down Oxford Road. Towards the back as I joined, it became apparent that someone called Jessie Ware was playing at the venue next door; the more smartly attired concert goer merged with the hordes of unkempt beards and vast array of metal shirts from all corners of metal's wide spanning genre spectrum. 
With myself firmly in the correct venue, Savage Messiah took the stage to the strains of ‘Iconocaust’ from 2014’s ‘The Fateful Dark’. In fact, the entire set that the band tore through was made up of songs from their third full length player. To some that might seem like an audacious move, but the songs on ‘The Fateful Dark’ are so much more honed. ‘Scavengers of Mercy’ and ‘Minority of One’ are both huge highlights as part of a short, thrashy and tight thirty minute set. It is always a pleasure to see Savage Messiah live.

With England’s finest thrash bands set in the books, the anticipation for Huntress’ set built admirably during the changeover. Taking to the stage with one of, if not their best track; the band sliced through ‘Spell Eater’. With Jill Janus stalking the stage like a fiendish evil witch, Huntress have the musical nous to change tempos and styles throughout their set. One of the obvious highlights is the colourfully titled Lemmy collaboration; ‘I Want to F*** You To Death.’ There is something a little strange about a predominantly male audience singing these words back to the irresistible Janus; but it is most definitely one of the bands party pieces

As Savage Messiah and Huntress both slay with their sets, any mention of the concerts headliners from the support bands are met with rapturous cheers and applause. It’s clear that everyone’s focus is the Swedish legends! Amon Amarth has carved a clandestine reputation throughout their near twenty five year career. A slew of awesome melodic death metal albums have cemented their reputation on disc, however as a live proposition, the band are a different class.

Johan Hegg is a towering tower of a man as the bands vocalist, and the band were as tight as ever as they shredded their way through a set that took in many points across the bands back catalogue. Opening with ‘Father of the Wolf’ from 2013’s Deceiver of the Gods, Amon Amarth immediately set out their stall to crush the frenzied Mancunian crowd. The band followed with the title track of their last album, before jumping back to ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ with ‘Live For The Kill’.

As the set moved along, ‘Guardians of Asgaard’ was as impressive of ever with the crowd lapping up every riff and word to sing back as the band held court over the sold out throngs. The band finished their main set with ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ before a fervent crowd ensured the band returned for an encore of ‘The Pursuit of Vikings’.

With the tour still having plenty of dates to go, Amon Amarth showed that they are one of the most passionate, hardworking and damn good bands on the touring circuit. Their energy and ability is amazing; hopefully 2015 will bring new material and another chance to catch one of metal’s finest acts.
Words by: Dominic Walsh