All-Destroying Metal: Amon Amarth & Goatwhore bring US Tour to Louisville KY

By Rosie Walker
(photos by Brian Wyner)

Johan Hegg – Amon Amarth

May 20th 2017, Mercury Ballroom, Louisville KY: It might surprise you how many treasures there are in the historic business district of Louisville, Kentucky. It’s on 4th street where you’ll find the magnetizing Mercury Ballroom. The seasoned building is a bright light for Louisville’s downtown with its key role in the South’s story. Built in 1928 for a Bourbon distribution company, you can really feel the history when you walk through its doors. This Kentucky gem now hosts some of the best heavy metal tours in the US. It was vacant for many years till Live Nation snatched up and reopened it as a venue in 2014. This piece of the past and its now first-class stage, is an ideal place to host the almighty Amon Amarth.

The hot, rainy weather did not deter the loyal metalheads from forming a line that wrapped around the building. Eager and gung-ho to get their spots inside, cheers were heard when the doors finally opened. They didn’t have to wait too since the show promptly started at 8 PM. As the soft, blue lights of the venue dimmed to black, the opening act, Goatwhore, took the stage. This sold out show had the excited crowd snuggled in close when they took the band venue by storm. These extreme, groove metal veterans from New Orleans unleashed a dramatic fury that instantly sparked a fire of fierce ferocity.

Playing their first three songs without pausing, Goatwhore gripped and surprised the audience and caused intrigue. Their uninhibited energy was contagious and had everyone floating off to clouds full of brutality and metal. Frontman Ben Falgoust firmly presented his art with animation and deliberation. The band made full use of the stage and banged their heads to match the chaos and severity of their sound. Goatwhore has been around for 20 years and awarded the crowd with a variety from their catalog. A highlight was their deliverance of ‘Vengeful Ascension’, the title song of their new album coming out June 23rd via Metal Blade. Ben asked the crowd how many hadn’t heard of them before and most of the audience raised their hands. It was a special thing to witness a band make so many new fans in one night. Goatwhore had the audience raising their horns and enchanted them with their assortment of sounds. Decked in studs and leather, this group clearly loves what they do. With their slightly old-school vibe joining their extreme, fast-paced groove sound makes them worthy of being equivalent to the modern-day Slayer. They had no backing tracks and guitarist Sammy Duet plays from an old, beat up Randall amp. When you hear his uniquely aggressive tone, it makes sense. Their dedication to their craft is admirable and inspiring. They triumphantly ended their 45-minute set with ‘Apocalyptic Havoc’, giving the audience something to really chew on. With their consistent, exclusive, unbridled sound, Goatwhore is a band that leaves a lasting impression.

Goatwhore photos:

Ben Falgoust – Goatwhore

Goatwhore set list:
01. The All-Destroying
02. An End to Nothing
03. Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult
04. Vengeful Ascension
05. Externalize This Hidden Savagery
06. Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh
07. Baring Teeth For Revolt
08. Schadenfreude
09. FBS
10. In Deathless Tradition
11. Apocalyptic Havoc

The 30-minute long changeover gave time for the crowd to recoup and allow their feet to touch the ground once again. Excitement began to ripple through the venue as the time got closer for the legendary Swedish metal act Amon Amarth to hit the stage. A clamor and upheaval struck the room when the lights dimmed and Amon Amarth’s intro music bellowed through the speakers. The 25-year old band instantly owned the stage with their distinctive, powerful presence. The fans were immediately transported by the band’s stories of the Viking Age when Norsemen explored and plundered. Even their magical numbers about mythology moved the audience. A blur of beards and long hair whirled about as each member sauntered around stage. The howls and growls of frontman Johan Hegg pierced the thickest of skins. His performance was real, chilling, and lovely. He paused a moment and greeted the crowd in his iconic, deep, rumbling voice by saying, “Good Evening, Louisville” and the audience went insane. It’s an uncommon experience to witness someone who has such command and effect over a group of people. The band continued to blast the crowd with such an intentional efficiency and riotous elegance. The solos of guitarists Johan Söderburg and Olavi Mikkonen sang and roar with flare. Each member took the time to look directly in the eyes of their devotees. Stoic, yet present and ever passionate. It was evident all five musicians embrace the love from their fans. Their set had such a variety and vitality that an hour felt like a minute. They played a good chunk from their newest album ‘Jomsviking’, while whipping out some old favorites. Much to the delight of their fans, they presented such goodies like, ‘Cry of the Blackbirds’ and ‘Under a Northern Star’.

As their hour-and-a-half set was coming to a close, the boys brought out props. With drinking horns in hand, Amon Amarth saluted the crowd and genuinely thanked them for their participation. For the last song of the evening, ‘Twilight of the Thundergod’, Johan produced an oversized replica of Thor’s hammer, ending the night with theatrical jubilation. Gifted in strength, wrapped in glory, they gave the crowd what they wanted and what they needed. Everyone so engaged and enthralled during the set that you felt the power of how heavy metal brings people together. Each song’s brilliant structure grasped at and penetrated souls. Amon Amarth’s seamless performance, with its delicious setlist made for an outstanding show. It was a special evening that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

If you like what you’ve read/seen, buy a shirt and help keep Metal Assault running full time!

If you live in the LA area, come to one of our Metal Assault Nights at the Viper Room, and/or the Metal Assault Matinee events at the Silverlake Lounge!

Amon Amarth photos:

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth set list:
01. The Pursuit of Vikings
02. As Loke Falls
03. First Kill
04. The Way of Vikings
05. At Dawn’s First Light
06. Cry of the Black Birds
07. Deceiver of the Gods
08. Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags
09. Destroyer of the Universe
10. Death in Fire
11. Under the Northern Star
12. Father of the Wolf
13. Live for the Kill
14. War of the Gods
15. Raise Your Horns
16. Guardians of Asgaard
17. Twilight of the Thunder God