Viking ships invaded London's Roundhouse on Friday night and with their fellow countrymen Grand Magus and thrash legends Testament also on the bill, a night of high octane, quality Metal in three different styles by bands with seventy-seven years experience between them was expected and duly delivered.
We spoke with Amon Amarth bassist Ted Lundström before the show and with the Swedes having just been announced as Friday night headliner for Bloodstock 2017, it's interesting to note Ted's reaction to the question: "Can we expect to see you at a major UK festival next year?"
There's an old Norse Viking proverb: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing", and with the rain lashing down outside and the temperature similar to that in the Baltic, it was heartwarming to see our music brought to an iconic venue that was originally the country's largest civil engineering project when it opened in 1847.
In 1869 Gilbey's Gin took on the lease and began to use the Roundhouse as a bonded warehouse for liquor and after surviving World War II, it became a cultural and cutting-edge arts venue, opening with the legendary 1966 launch of radical underground newspaper The International Times which featured a little known band called Pink Floyd.
There's an old Swedish Viking proverb: "Only dead fish follow the stream", and Janne 'JB' Christoffersson and his colleagues, Mats 'Fox' Skinner and Ludwig 'Ludde' Witt were very much alive on the Roundhouse stage tonight, filling the arena with their own special blend of sword songs full of triumph and power, all executed with an iron will.
The band celebrate twenty years of existence this year and have certainly not been following any streams as it has taken the best part of those two decades to gain any sort of recognition and despite latest album, 'Sword Songs', not charting as high as predecessor 'Triumph And Power', they looked as though they had finally arrived tonight.
Proud and magnificent future classics including 'Varangian', 'Steel Versus Steel' and 'Iron Will' all made their mark, as well as a statement that here is a band who are destined for serious success and after the Jomsviking World Tour is completed, we're fully expecting their profile to have been significantly raised. A great band with great songs and a great future.
There's an old Norwegian Viking proverb: "One should listen when an old dog barks", and after thirty-three years, Testament are still a delight to hear. Chuck Billy was in superb form tonight, as were all of Testament, and while his colleagues are soloing away Chuck plays the finest air guitar on his customised microphone stand that you have ever seen. He clearly can play guitar for real as he hit every single note to perfection on his imaginary axe. Just have a watch when you can because it's impressive.
Testament are an extremely tight unit and this solid line-up delighted the gathered throngs with a catalogue of songs from through the years that told the whole story of how and why they have stayed at the top of the thrash Metal tree for three decades now. Highlights were opener 'Brotherhood Of The Snake', the title track of the recently released new album, 'Disciples Of The Watch' from 1988s 'The New Order', 'Dark Roots Of Earth' from 2012s album of the same name and the cracking 'Into The Pit'.
This was a completely different setlist to when we celebrated Chuck's 54th birthday in the O2's Brooklyn Bowl back in June and credit to the band for giving punters total value for money and a superb performance. Too many bands play predictable setlists but Testament do not stand still or rest on their laurels. An excellent choice of support.
There's an old Icelandic Viking proverb: "Bare is the back of a brotherless man", and the sense of unity in the Roundhouse tonight was overwhelming as Amon Amarth threw one thousand burning arrows at their Ascomanni kinspeople with an awe-inspiring performance that spoke volumes of their potent dynamism.
The Amon Amarth stage set is now majorly impressive, as you can see from the pictures here, which incidentally were taken at Saturday night's performance in Birmingham's O2 Academy, not at the Roundhouse. Starting with 'The Pursuit Of Vikings' from 2004s 'Fate Of Norns' album and 'As Loke Falls' from 'Deceiver Of The Gods' was a huge but very welcome surprise and it wasn't long before the epic material from their greatest album yet, 'Jomsviking' was pulled out of the hat and 'First Kill', 'The Way Of Vikings' and 'At Dawn's First Light' all received rapturous receptions and the huge singalong moments were scintillating.
We were treated to a live battle between the two, unnamed, main characters from the 'Jomsviking' story and it was blood for honour, death and glory all the way, it's realism only slightly tainted by the poor roadie who had to trawl the stage collecting discarded swords, shields and detached body parts while trying to avoid a marauding and rampaging Johan Hegg.
There's an old Icelandic Viking proverb: "One must howl with the wolves one is among", and Johan is a beast on stage and the birth giver to the 'Jomsviking' concept showed he is more than just a brilliant death Metal vocalist as he narrated the 'Runes To My Memory' intro with true passion and skill. Confidence is absolutey everything in a frontman and Konungr Hegg has enough to fill Mariusud, a lot of which comes from the fact that his Viking félagi, Ted Lundström, Olavi Mikkonen, Johan Söderberg and Jocke Wallgren are accomplished, gifted and total masters of their art.
As well as quenching his thirst from the biggest Viking drinking horn this side of Hedeby, Johan raised plenty of horns, as you would expect, and the berserks roared as they called to mighty Thor. Even without 'A Dream That Cannot Be' and 'Back On Northern Shores', this was an utter triumph for Amon Amarth. 'Jomsviking' hit the number one spot in the German Offizielle Top 100 album chart yet final two encores, 'Guardians Of Asgaard' and 'Twilight Of The Thunder God' showed that their sepulcher of anthems is abundant.
Hail to Odin, Thor and Frey. Hail to Vali, Sif and Heimdallr. Hail to Baldr, Bragi and Eir. Hail to Freyja, Loki and Frigg. Hail to Lin, Ifon and Mimir. Hail to Njord, Ran and Tyr. Hail to Odin's spear, Thor's hammer and the mighty fecund earth. Hail to Amon Amarth, Testament and Grand Magus.
Amon Amarth setlist:
The Pursuit Of Vikings
As Loke Falls
The Way Of Vikings
At Dawn's First Light
Cry Of The Black Birds
Deceiver Of The Gods
On A Sea Of Blood
Destroyer Of The Universe
Death In Fire
One Thousand Burning Arrows
Father Of The Wolf
Runes To My Memory
War Of The Gods
Raise Your Horns
Guardians Of Asgaard
Twilight Of The Thunder God
Brotherhood Of The Snake
The Pale King
Disciples Of The Watch
The New Order
Dark Roots Of Earth
Into The Pit
Over The Wall
The Formation Of Damnation
Grand Magus setlist:
I, The Jury
Sword Of The Ocean
Steel Versus Steel
Like The Oar Strikes The Water
Hammer Of The North
Amon Amarth tour dates:
November 6th: 013, Tilburg, Netherlands
November 7th: Casino de Paris, Paris, France
November 9th: Santana 27, Bilbao, Spain
November 10th: Coliseu do Porto, Porto, Portugal
November 11th: La Riviera, Madrid, Spain
November 12th: Razzmatazz, Barcelona, Spain
November 13th: Transbordeur, Lyon, France
November 15th: Salle Metrople, Lausanne, Switzerland
November 16th: Komplex 457, Zurich, Switzerland
November 17th: Stadthalle, Offenbach Am Main, Germany
November 18th: MHPArena, Ludwigsburg, Germany
November 19th: Zenith, Munich, Germany
November 21st: Alcatraz, Milan, Italy
November 22nd: Planet Music Gasometer, Vienna, Austria
November 23rd: Haus Auensee, Leipzig, Germany
November 25th: Forum Karlin, Prague, Czech Republic
November 26th: Eventzentrum, Geiselwind, Germany
November 27th: Columbiahalle, Berlin, Germany
November 28th: Refinery Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia
November 29th: Tvornica, Zagreb, Croatia
December 1st: Fix Factory of Sound, Thessaloníki, Greece
December 2nd: Piraeus Academy, Athina, Greece
December 3rd: Hristo Botev Hall, Sofia, Bulgaria
December 4th: Arenele Romane, Bucharest, Romania
December 6th: Barba Negra, Budapest, Hungary
December 7th: Kwadrat, Kraków, Poland
December 8th: B90, Gdansk, Poland
December 9th: Progresja, Warszawa, Poland
December 10th: Loftas, Vilnius, Lithuania
December 12th: Rock Cafe, Tallinn, Estonia
December 13th: Black Box, Helsinki, Finland
December 15th: Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway
December 16th: Liseberghallen, Gothenburg, Sweden
December 17th: Arenan, Stockholm, Sweden
December 18th: Store VEGA, København V, Denmark
March 27th: Full Metal Mountain, Graz, Austria
August 3rd: Wacken Open Air, Germany
August 4th: Przystanek Woodstock, Kostrzyn, Poland
August 11th: Bloodstock Open Air, England
August 25th: Reload Festival, Aullingen, Germany
Tickets for Bloodstock 2017 are available right here and many different packages are available at seriously good value.