Amon Amarth, Enslaved & Skeletonwitch Kick Off North American Tour In Las Vegas

By Andrew Bansal

January 17 2014, House Of Blues, Las Vegas NV: After slaying the masses last summer on the Mayhem Festival, Swedish melodic death metal giants Amon Amarth announced their first US headline tour since the release of their latest album ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’, with support acts Norwegian progressive extreme metal band Enslaved and Ohio blackened thrashers Skeletonwitch. With a lineup as enticing as this, it promised to be one of the greatest metal tours America has seen in a long time, and it all began at the House Of Blues in Las Vegas last night. The fans gathered in large numbers at the entrance of the venue, located alongside the casino section of the lovely Mandalay Bay hotel. The doors opened at 7:30, and these people rushed inside, in anticipation of a great show.

The evening was kickstarted by the world premiere of Amon Amarth’s ‘Father Of The Wolf’ video, as it was shown to fans in attendance here on a projection screen. It turned out to be much more than a mere music video, almost like a mini-movie in itself, with production values at a level as epic as the band’s music. You can watch it below:

The live music began promptly at 8 with Skeletonwitch came out all guns blazing, hitting the audience hard with an onslaught of material from their killer latest album ‘Serpents Unleashed’, as well as some choice selections and fan favorites from the ‘Beyond The Permafrost’ and ‘Breathing The Fire’ albums. They’ve conquered stages and audiences of all kinds and sizes in recent years, and their crushing live show has been the biggest reason for their success, as was evident from their typically fierce and efficient performance last night. The set list was well chosen both in terms of the content and order of songs. Amon Amarth fans who’ve never heard of Skeletonwitch should be able to appreciate the band’s music, and one would expect the Ohio metal heroes to tap into this Amon Amarth fan base and broaden their own by the end of this tour. “We will be back! Until then, eat some fucking pussy’ were the famous parting words by vocalist Chance Garnette, as Skeletonwitch ended their 30-minute song with the ever-amazing ‘Within My Blood’ and departed the stage.

Related: Interview With Skeletonwitch Vocalist Chance Garnette

Visit Skeletonwitch on the web: 

Set List:
01. Serpents Unleashed
02. I Am Of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
03. Burned From Bone
04. Sacrifice For The Slaughtergod
05. Beyond The Permafrost
06. From A Cloudless Sky
07. Crushed Beyond Dust
08. Beneath Dead Leaves
09. Within My Blood

It was only a 15-minute changeover after which Enslaved took the stage with their signature brand of progressive extreme metal, in a 45-minute set decorated with material ranging from newest album Riitiir all the way back to the 1992 Yggdrasil demo. Ever since they started incorporating progressive elements into their music, Enslaved’s live shows have turned out to be spellbinding for audiences everywhere, and last night’s performance was perhaps a few notches above what they did in America in the recent past, even though the set duration seemed much too short for Enslaved fans in this audience. Frontman Grutle Kjellson and keyboardist Herbrand Larsen both did a fantastic job delivering their parts, and the rest of the band, the seasoned professionals that they are, put on an excellent show as well. Quite a number of progressive metal bands tend of lose their sense of musical direction and end up turning into something they never were to begin with, but Enslaved is a glorious exception to the norm as they continue to strike the perfect balance between skull-crushing extreme metal and mind-bending prog.

Visit Enslaved on the web:

Set List:
01. Death In The Eyes Of Dawn
02. Ruun
03. Ethica Odini
04. Riitiir
05. Allfaðr Oðinn
06. Isa

This show moved along swiftly, and before anyone even realized it, the clock struck 10 and it was time for headliners Amon Amarth to take this stage with their melodic death metal mastery and beer-fueled windmill headbanging. As expected, the focus was on the new material. As many as six songs in the set were off of Deceiver Of The Gods, but even the rest of the set mostly consisted of songs from recent albums such as With Oden On Our Side, Twilight Of The Thunder God and Surtur Rising, which this audience didn’t really seem to mind as this is what they’ve perhaps come to expect from present-day Amon Amarth. With that said, the fans’ response was decidedly better for the pre-Deceiver material, specially the three Surtur Rising songs which sounded just as powerful as they did when the band toured in support of that album three years ago. The set had a good, solid beginning and had some great moments in the middle, but from ‘Destroyer Of The Universe’ through to the final song ‘The Pursuit Of Vikings’, the set had an extremely strong end to it and fans loved every moment of it.

As for the Deceiver material, it certainly sounded richer, heavier and more dynamic than it does on the studio version of the album. It’s almost as if the audience hears more things when they play it live, and elements that get lost in the studio mix are brought to the forefront to a much greater degree in the live setting. ‘As Loke Falls’ and ‘We Shall Destroy’ were the best among the six Deceiver tunes played last night. But vocalist Johan Hegg was in his element, bringing his ultra-powerful personality onto that stage, and as always, he had this audience at his command. He dedicated ‘Warriors Of The North’ to Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel, who was in attendance for this show. There was no shortage of humor in Johan Hegg’s banter as he brought out the drinking horn and took a tasteful sip from it, jokingly described ‘Guardians Of Asgaard’ as a party song, and engaged the crowd in a very well orchestrated and high-volume sing-along for The Pursuit Of Vikings.

This Las Vegas crowd was not overly indulgent in moshing, crowd-surfing and other such behaviors, but was rather contented with watching the bands, singing along and headbanging. It was a different atmosphere compared to a typical Los Angeles metal show, but certainly good in its own way and everyone seemed to be having a great time. After Amon Amarth departed the stage, the ‘Father Of The Wolf’ video was played one more time for anyone who might have missed it at the start of the show. With that, this epic metal night came to an end and all attendees walked away with satisfied smiles on their faces. If this tour is coming to your town or a town near you, it’s an absolute must-see.

Visit Amon Amarth on the web: 

Set List:
01. Father Of The Wolf
02. Deceiver Of The Gods
03. Death In Fire
04. Free Will Sacrifice
05. As Loke Falls
06. We Shall Destroy
07. Runes To My Memory
08. Varyags Of Miklagaard
09. Last Stand Of Frej
10. Guardians Of Asgaard
11. Blood Eagle
12. Warriors Of The North
13. Destroyer Of The Universe
14. Cry Of The Black Birds
15. War Of The Gods
16. Twilight Of The Thunder God
17. The Pursuit Of Vikings

Remaining tour dates:
01/18 – Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red
01/20 – San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live
01/21 – Dallas, TX @ House Of Blues
01/22 – Houston, TX @ House Of Blues
01/24 – Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage
01/25 – Tampa, FL @ The Ritz
01/26 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
01/27 – Orlando, FL @ House Of Blues (*no Skeletonwitch)
01/29 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
01/30 – Norfolk, VA @ The NorVA
01/31 – Silver Springs, MD @ The Fillmore
02/01 – Boston, MA @ House Of Blues
02/03 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA
02/04 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
02/07 – Chicago, IL @ House Of Blues
02/08 – Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights
02/09 – Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
02/11 – Denver, CO @ Summit Theatre
02/12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Murray Theater
02/14 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency
02/15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
02/16 – San Diego, CA @ House Of Blues (* No Enslaved)