Amon Amarth @ Irving Plaza

NEW YORK, NY—As a soon-to-be college grad I’ve been having severe withdrawal from loud noises. The never-ending shushing in libraries and even in my own house from roommates with papers and projects has left me craving loud, fast-paced, head banging music. The mishmash of hip-hop and rap blaring at the bars hasn’t come close to being enough. I needed metal.

Knowing this, I couldn’t help but get a bit nervous as I watched the line outside of Irving grow. Not the line to get in but the line of people who didn’t have tickets. I watched as one by one people who were hoping to just drop in had to be turned away. Will Call didn’t let me down this time, tragedy averted.

For Amon Amarth it’s the first time back in the U.S. since last year. They did some 30-plus shows in Europe since then. On this tour Holy Grail and Eluveitie have been the openers.

Inside, I got the loud, fast-paced music I wanted but there was also a nice progression from band to band. Everyone there played different subsets of metal; Holy Grail, a five-piece band from California played very old school metal. I wasn’t old enough to go out and enjoy bands like Iron Maiden live, but these guys gave me a small taste of what it would have been like.

James Paul Luna had vocals you could understand while still sounding loud—that’s hard to find nowadays— normally it starts to sound more and more distorted as the singing becomes more screaming.

The harmony in the shredding that went down had a vintage sound. There were some long solos in there too. I definitely watched in appreciation at a style of music that’s almost gone extinct. I think a lot of us there had the same feeling about it. And, although they sound like they’re old, they only have one EP out, Improper Burial 7”, that’s less than six months old.

After them was Eluveitie, an eight-piece group that is self-described as a folk metal band. Until last year I had never heard of the genre. The only other band that I know of in the genre sounds nothing like them. Eluveitie is a weird kind of metal; a good weird. Rather than sticking solely to the traditional instruments used to conceive metal, they created this dark, ominous sound heavy in content with some unusual tools. They powered through their set using a bagpipe, flute, crank accordion, and violin. Chrigel Glanzmann, their lead singer had a solid 30-second solo with his flute, thumbing right into a deep cry. When thinking about it now, it seems as if it would sound completely ridiculous, but it worked. Oddly enough some of their songs were pretty good drinking songs too, even for those who might not appreciate metal.

Having gone from a more traditional band to this folk metal band, it was time for Amon Amarth. Over the years I’ve tried to label them as Viking metal, but I don’t think those two words can summarize what these guys manage to create on stage and in there albums. They inspire fans to headbang, to mosh, to scream, to drink, and despite the gruesomeness of their lyrics they inspire fans to have fun.

You can’t help but to get lost in some of their epic tales. Standing there live you start to feel a part of them; having seen Amon a handful of times before, I will say it was unfortunate to see Johan Hegg come out without his usual elephant tusk in hand. I used to see that as a relic, so things felt a little out of place without it.

As for what they came to play, some favorites, like “Death In Fire,” “Asator,” “Vaulhail Awaits Me,” “Cry Of The Black Birds,” and of course “Pursuit Of Vikings.” They did play three or four new songs off of Twilight Of The Thunder God; “Guardians Of Asgaard,” “Twilight Of The Thunder God,” and “Live For The Kill.”

For anyone there at Irving looking to get their fix like me, I’m sure they didn’t leave disappointed. It’s been months since my last metal show, and it took this one to remind me why I loved going in the first place.