AMON AMARTH - The Pursuit Of Vikings... Live At Summer Breeze
December 21, 2018, a month ago
BraveWords was in the house, both nights, in August 2017, when the Viking Swedes played back-to-back gigs at Summer Breeze. The smaller, initial show featured a lot of deep cuts, the next night, more of the hits. Now, the entire event is showcased in a double CD, with companion DVD, which includes a career spanning documentary. Viewed as an entire package, it's 30 songs (no repeats!), storming out of the gates with brutal (yet tuneful) “Twilight Of The Thunder God”, Johan Hegg bellowing for the adoring throng to sing along, just minutes into the show. The gentle giant had the crowd in his hand and offers a little commentary/introduction between most tracks. Whether a casual fan or “trve” diehard, there's plenty to like. Some gripe about the gruff/guttural vocals, but the heavy rhythms are so damn infectious, detractors might not even recognize the voice, just another instrument in the mix.
“With Oden On Our Side” is dedicated to Michael Trengert, former Summer Breeze organizer and early Amon Amarth supporter, who died of cancer and the initial Wednesday performance was dedicated to his memory (as were all the bands that night, part of the festival's 20th anniversary). The mid-tempo, rarely unearthed “The Last With Pagan Blood” rides on a thick carpet of spiraling guitars. As any fan knows, their catalog is filled with dramatic changes in dynamics. It's not all speed and bashing. This onstage compilations demonstrates the fact so beautifully. Witness the piped in violin solo during “Live For The Kill”. For every “Gods Of War Arise” or speedy “Asator” there’s a more laidback “Under The Northern Star”. If you haven't seen it online, the visual counterpart captures “Varyags Of Miklagaard”, where the crowd, spurred by Hegg's suggestion, sits down and imitates a massive rowing crew! Probably the first aerobic workout many had participated in, in a while. Great scene though! Rousing aforementioned “Live For The Kill” segues into omnipresent “Victorious March” to close out the first night.
The second show begins with symphonic strings introduced title track, then a few nods to the (then) new Jomsviking disc, including galloping “First Kill”. Throughout the evening, Hegg is less talkative, more a “usual” gig than the emotional set the night before. Truly picks up about six songs in, with six-string vortex called “Cry Of The Blackbirds”. Fans sing the opening guitar harmonies to “Deceiver Of The Gods”. The fast clickety-clack “Destroyer of The Universe” leads into “Death In Fire”, which is quite the pyromaniac display, on DVD. Virtually lives up to its name! Glad to see/hear about half of the With Oden On Our Side disc represented live (sometimes forgotten on this side of the pond), including spoken word introduced “Runes To My Memory”. The concluding sequence was designed for big festival/casual fans, with drinking horn anthem “Raise Your Horns”, a guest appearance by Doro Pesch (for “A Dream That Cannot Be”) to reprise her duet on the Jomsviking album, before ending with the well-known Twilight Of The Thunder God title track.