Sat. Mar 6th, 2021

9.12.2019 Hypocrisy, Arch Enemy & Amon Amarth @ Jäähalli, Helsinki

I traveled all the way from cold and dreary Belgium to equally cold and dreary Finland during a period filled with metal concerts, one of the first stops being AMON AMARTH‘s Berserker Tour. The Swedish Vikings were accompanied by fellow nationals and big names HYPOCRISY and ARCH ENEMY, which obviously made fans flock to Jäähalli. We got there what we thought to be early, but found that there was already a long queue of eager fans, not afraid to face the elements for a good spot in the crowd. The gig was entirely sold-out, so I was happy that the security procedures went very smoothly once the doors opened, and I quickly found myself standing in front of the stage.

The legendary Swedish death metal act HYPOCRISY opened the evening in style. The band doesn’t tour frequently, and their last release “End Of Disclosure” dates back from 2013, which might explain why the Swedish melodic death metal act had quite a great turnout as most of the audience already had filled up the Ice Hall. The band got the crowd revved up with classics from their 30+ year repertoire, like “Fire in the Sky”, “Warpath”, “Eraser”, and “Roswell 47”. Even though the sound was at times murky, the band pushed through and played us a dynamic set. Frontman Peter Tägtgren dominated the stage with his charismatic presence and gave us the brutal yet deeply emotional vocals fans know and love him for. Sadly, Mikael Hedlund couldn’t make it on tour, but the crowd nevertheless embraced guest bassist André “Gandalf” Skaug (CLAWFINGER) as one of their own. The band made the absolute best of 40 minutes of playtime, leaving me fired up and wanting more.

I have known ARCH ENEMY since back when Angela Gossow and Johan Liiva still rocked the stage, but I always missed my chance to catch a live show. I have to admit I somewhat lost track of them since the line-up swap, but that changed with their most recent release “Covered in Blood”, that drew my attention back to them. Needless to say, I was curious about what the band had in store for us and ended up being very pleasantly surprised.

Jeff Loomis and Mickael Amott fed us melodic guitar riff after riff, accompanied by a headbanging, tireless Alissa White-Gluz. I watched in awe as she strutted across the stage, owning it with her dynamic presence. It was difficult to keep my eyes off her, like a true front-woman she rocked every song in a way that always pulled my attention back towards her. Her energy worked its infectious magic, stirring up the crowd into jumping along to the blast beats, and eventually unleashing a pretty decent circle pit. Alissa’s vocals were flawlessly powerful, burning through every song like wildfire, and I finally got a long-overdue shot at screaming along to “Nemesis”.

After the final notes of ARCH ENEMY’s infectious fury, the anticipated army of Vikings started to form a wall in front of the stage. AMON AMARTH is a band that I did faithfully keep following throughout the years, right up until latest record “Berserker”. And so, the black curtain drops after a brief intro of IRON MAIDEN’s “Run To The Hills”, revealing a true feast for the eyes.

First of all, it has to be said that the stage setting was simply breathtaking. An impressive drum riser in the form of a horned helmet, Viking warriors pounding their shields in the background, and at one point even golden confetti falling from the skies; it all made the Valkyrie heart in me beat faster. The Swedish warrior quintet didn’t actually need the countless pyros and explosions that accompanied every song to get the crowd in the mood for battle, but I have to say it did enhance the whole experience.

Many crowd’s favorites were met with cheers and singalongs, including “Deceiver Of The Gods” and “Guardians Of Asgaard”. The band rallied on, only briefly interrupting their siege to wish us a nice Finnish Independence Day and share a horn of mead to our health. Bearded lead singer Johann Hegg at some point announced he was suffering from a cold, something I wouldn’t have noticed at all if he hadn’t mentioned it since he was all smiles and – as usual – completely at ease on stage. He clearly wasn’t worried about the whole venue catching fire because of the many explosive props. As a bonus, there were some golden oldies surprises that took me right back to my teenage years, such as “Runes To My Memory” and “Prediction Of Warfare”. The fans definitely seemed to appreciate this throwback, but equally eagerly raised their fists in the air for the latest tracks of “Berserker”. An epic victory for the Viking horde!

The heroic Swedish troupe definitely delivered, giving us nothing less than top quality from start to finish. Three Melodic Death Metal icons with 30 years worth of incredible music make for one great evening, and will probably leave my neck quite sore in the morning. I enjoyed every second of it, and would gladly brave the dark Finnish winter in the future to watch them take over Jäähalli again.

Setlist

  1. Raven’s Flight
  2. Runes To My Memory
  3. Death In Fire
  4. Deceiver Of The Gods
  5. First Kill
  6. Fafner’s Gold
  7. Crack The Sky
  8. The Way Of Vikings
  9. Prediction Of Warfare
  10. Shield Wall
  11. Guardians Of Asgaard
  12. Raise Your Horn
  13. The Pursuit Of Vikings (Encore)
  14. Twilight Of The Thunder God (Encore)

Article by Jana De Boeck
Photos by Laureline Tilkin

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