AMON AMARTH / CANNIBAL CORPSE / OBITUARY - Broad Street Bullies, 2024!

May 15, 2024, 4 weeks ago

By Mark Gromen

gallery black death amon amarth cannibal corpse obituary

Some would find no difference between the on-ice tactics of the ‘70s Philly hockey affiliate and the lyrics of these bands. The Fillmore is not a rink, but hosted the current line-up of long hairs, with bad intent, to a raucous crowd. Maybe things haven't changed all that much in this town, in almost 50 years! 

Openers Frozen Soul played this very stage, a year ago, as part of the annual Philly Metal & Beer fest. Now the Texans were back, as part of the Metal Crushes All tour. All three opening bands were stationed in front of the pre-arranged Amon Amarth equipment. Obituary decided to showcase last year's Dying Of Everything release, as only "Slow Death" (off the nearly two decades old Frozen In Time platter) was the lone non-album track. Odd to see the Floridians and not hear "Chopped In Half" or any of the initial three title tracks (or anything from those discs). 

Trevor Peres played like a man possessed, flipping his impressive length of hair, forward and back, over his face. To his left, John Tardy (with an even longer, curly mane) screamed out the lyrics, often contorting his body in obtuse angles, as he delivered the vocal malevolence. Plumes of smoke erupt, across the width of the stage, during "The Wrong Time". Yellow lights highlight "My Will To Live". The chatter of machine gun fire, along with strobes and more smoke (four flash pots shoot skyward), a fitting intro to "War". After the set closing "Dying Of Everything", John high fived his brother, drummer Donald, as Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" was quickly removed from the Fillmore speakers.

Few people in any walk of life can get away with wearing a shirt resplendent with their own image on it. Bearing his likeness, and the words "Respect The Neck" (a mantra heard emanating from the crowd, periodically), Cannibal Corpse frontman George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher is one such individual. Imposing is an understatement. Good thing he's such a soft spoken, nice guy, offstage. Hard to get a good shot of the guy's face, as his head of stringy hair is always plastered to it, or is pin-wheeling around. Is there anyone with a more violent headbang in metal than Corpsegrinder launching himself forward? In fact, he challenges those in the crowd to keep up with his (literally) breakneck pace, but as he gloats, beforehand, "You will fail miserably!" 

Red lights as the band opens with "Scourge Of Iron", each employing their own headbang technique. The singer, as above, while bassist Alex Webster prefers a slower bob that occasionally has his features visible beneath a graying head of hair. Stage left, Eric Rutan (who still employs an electric fan to billow his hair) perfects his own combination of a circular motion and back-to-front. He takes a brief, blazing solo towards the end of that cut. The singer continues barking out the lyrics to the likes of "Inhumane Harvest" and Death Walking Terror", strobes piercing the seemingly perpetual crimson display. Guys, you think ED is debilitating? How about a certain affliction Cannibal sing about? Ouch! After asking if the crowd is having fun, and the response didn't meet with Fisher's level of intensity, he admonished the crowd and gave them a second chance, with "That reaction was pathetic. Don't disappoint me." Night ends with them "sneaking in" one more, the infamous "Hammer Smashed Face".

Certain portion of the hardcore death metal audience split, but most stuck around for Amon Amarth. Orchestral intro, as two white runes rotate on the black curtain that has kept the stage from view. Tonight, it's just the horned helmet, with video screens in the eye holes and a drum kit atop (in bigger arena, there's been the full longboat set-up). The familiar bounce of blue lit "The Pursuit Of Vikings" kicks things off. Led by burly singer Johan Hegg, the guys are up on stage front risers, as a half dozen explosions of smoke fly skyward. Much like Sabaton, these Swedes have progressed beyond just music, there are bits of stage show throughout the night. Just one song in, Hegg has the crowd punching air and yelling, as some mimic the "Odin, guide our ship" chorus. Shame the pair of flag waving, costumed extras were under photographic unfriendly red lights for "Tattered Banners And Bloody Flags". 

Blue/purple bathed "Guardians Of Asgaard" is another old school choice, followed by "Raven's Flight", a bit of a surprise. It begins with some fretboard tapping from Olavi Mikkonen, as the stage is suddenly covered in theatrical fog. Who needs a Stairmaster workout when Hegg repeatedly jumps atop multiple lightbox/risers, located at various points around the stage? "Blood Eagle" is appropriately colored red, as four coordinated smoke plumes arise. Probably the biggest favorite, to this juncture, blue illuminated "Deceiver Of The Gods" is a fan lovefest, singing not just the words, but even the beginning guitar harmonies. Johan explained that the song is about "being humiliated, not fitting in, and using your wits to crush those who oppose you." Green/blue lights and a spear wielding Loke appear onstage. Moving around the stage, pestering the singer, Hegg eventually has had enough, confronts Loke and kicks him to the ground. The twin lead guitars are spotlighted in white, as the throng return to singing the rhythms. Ends with Hegg sustaining his final bellowed note. 

Loke returns, sneaking up on the man/mountain as he addresses the crowd, next break. "I fucking see you," commands Hegg, then shoves the character to the ground. Cue (somewhat appropriately entitled) "As Loke Falls". The mischief maker vanquished, its' time for more (repeated) clouds of smoke. There are stairs, either side of the helmet/riser and the singer gets on his horse, running up/down, around the stage. Pinks/purples light up "Find a Way Or Make One", but when it ends, the stage goes black, before the audience participation "Put Your Back Into The Oar", where large portions of the floor sit down and pretend to roar an imaginary galley. The lights go out again, as pre-recorded waves crash from the speakers. Next, there's Viking combatants onstage, as the musicians move to the perimeter, for "The Way Of Vikings".

20+ years after the fact, would have never imagined Swedish Viking/melodic death metal would translate to American kids that were barely (if even) born at the time. "Heidrun", an ode to a goat, is a throw away moment that has taken on a life of its own (especially for the younger set). It's another sing-along, even though a simple tune. Coming on the (cloven) heels of that kiddie ditty, aggro "War Of The Gods" (another unexpected deep cut, off Surtur Rising) feels even heavier, the stage drenched in smoke and red lights. Purple colored "Shield Wall" starts punishingly, a pair of Vikings standing guard at the corners of the drum riser. Midway through, during a subtle (almost a cappella) moment, the singer gets the audience to clap along. He's perched atop a riser, at the lip of the stage (Johan really doesn't need the upward boost). Prior to "Raise Your Horns" (double meaning: drinking ale horns, as well as two finger metal salute) a lull, during which all the guys take a drink. Befitting Johan, the servants present him with an enormous, oversize drinking vessel, which he promptly drains. Those unsure of the words can sing open "oh oh" instead. 

They'd return, for a one song encore. Thunder crackles, as Johan walks out, with giant sledge hammer on his shoulder. He raises the tool overhead as Amon Amarth launch into "Twilight Of The Thunder God", an inflatable serpent, stage left. Great song and a must in any set. The gods would be proud!

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