February 17, 2014 Amon Amarth, Enslaved, & Skeletonwitch defy the elements at The Paramount Huntington, NY 2-5-14
The day after another snow storm walloped the northeast, the Viking ship of the Deceivers of The Gods Tour docked on the shores of Long Island, NY for an evening of relentless metal. When the tour was first announced back in September 2013, the line-up led by Amon Amarth, Enslaved, and Skeletonwitch had fans boasting this was going to be an epic event of all killer and no filler. Having played a packed Irving Plaza in NYC the night prior, many may have wondered if the tour would sustain another show within such close proximity of the city that never sleeps, especially now that the weather came into play. That worry was quickly put to rest with a tremendous showing of diverse metalheads lining up outside The Paramount in Huntington, NY.
First to summon the metal gods were Athens, Ohio’s Skeletonwitch. Establishing themselves as a well recognized name within the death metal scene, Skeletonwitch recently celebrated their 10th anniversary together in 2013 with the release of their fifth studio album Serpents Unleashed. Having not performed on Long Island in a long time, a large group of followers among the audience were present in support of Skeletonwitch, and it was clear things were going to get wild in a hurry.
Opening the set with the furious fast beat track “This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)”, a circle pit broke out immediately with hair-whipping headbanging. Each song thereafter was so powerful that the wall of sound shook the floor. The drumming of Dustin Boltjes was rapid fire, and the combination of Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette and Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick’s thick guitar riffing culminated the intensity. Chance Garnette (vocalist) was a force to be reckoned with, and while his voice may be deep and scratchy, you can still hear every word articulated clearly. This blackened thrashing continued through a series of new tracks including “Burned From Bone” and “From a Cloudless Sky”.Garnette thanked the audience for making the trip out to the show in the bad weather and closed out with “Within My Blood”. Skeletonwitch made a strong impression and showed that they can certainly hold their own as a headliner in a venue of this capacity in the future.
Providing diversity to the evening, next up were Enslaved, hailing from Bergen, Norway. Established over 2 decades ago by friends Grutle Kjellson (lead vocals, bass) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitars/backing vocals), while the two were still teenagers, Enslaved has progressed from their early black metal roots into a dynamic metal band with progressive elements difficult to categorize. Sustaining numerous line-up changes in the early 2000’s, the current line-up of Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitar), Cato Bekkevold (drums), and Herbrand Larsen (keyboards) has accompanied the core of the band for 10 years. Finding stability, Enslaved have made great strides in success with regular touring of North America, resulting in growing popularity in the metal scene.
As the band took to the stage, they opened with the epic “Death In The Eyes Of Dawn”. The song filled The Paramount with a distinct atmosphere of gloom and doom. The audience, hypnotize by the ambiance, swayed back and forth. With plenty of vocal variations ranging from the evil growls of Kjellson to the soothing clean vocals of Larsen, the 8 plus minute opening wowed all observers. The set then went into the melodic tension build of “Runn”, which resulted in some not familiar with Enslaved, comparing the guitar work of Bjørnson and Ice Dale to Tool. The cold dark vibe became most intense with “Ethica Odini” ,where the looks on the faces of those in the crowd were simply awe struck by the force Enslaved projected.
Only three songs deep into their performance, it was hard to believe the set was half way complete, but Enslaved does not write your average three and a half minute composition. They continued along with the title track off their most recent album Rittir (2012), keeping the ferocity through “Allfaðr Oðinn” and closing with “Isa”. Overall, Enslaved gave everyone a balanced mix of some of their best material off their past five albums. It is difficult to recapture the soundscape a band like Enslaved possesses, but these seasoned musicians pulled it off with flying colors in their first ever performance on Long Island.
Revved up, the horde of metalheads at The Paramount were ready for Sweden’s Viking metal masters Amon Amarth. Having made their first appearance in North America back in 2002, a great deal has happened in that time. Constant touring and the steady release of one quality album after another has helped the band conquer these shores. Coming off the success of their opening spot on the main stage of Mayhem Festival 2013, fans yearned to see a full set from the band to absorb in all that Deceiver of The Gods (2013) brings.
Calling upon the Swedes with enthusiasm, the audience was granted their wish with the opening of “Father of the Wolf”. Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen’s guitar tones were enormous as melodies echoed the halls of the venue. Chanting along, word for word, everyone had their fists in the air. The adrenaline rush continued through “Deceiver of The Gods”, “Death in Fire”, and “Live for the Kill”. Fans reacted with the first episode of crowd surfing all night and the most vigorous headbanging yet.
After blasting through an assault of metal, Johan Hegg (vocalist) thanked everyone for coming out to the show to see them in the snow and proceeded to say “You’re not a real Viking until you battle all of nature’s elements, a real Viking goes out in the fucking snow”, which was received with a resounding roar from the crowd. Proceeding to move on, Amon Amarth played an assortment of songs from Deceiver of The Gods and Twilight of the Thunder God (2008). By the time “Guardians Of Asgaard” began, Hegg swore it was one of the hardest party songs he had ever written. Receiving words of encouragement from Hegg earlier on, the floor of The Paramount was immersed in circle pits with more crowd-surfing than ever before. Combined with the energy flowing on the stage, this was an amazing scene to witness.
There was no let up in the pounding Amon Amarth provided as they played on with an array of tracks from With Oden on Our Side (2006) and Surtur Rising (2011). With noise levels in the red, this was perhaps one of the loudest concerts ever at The Paramount. Amon Amarth dominated, having full power over the crowd, all the way through their encore which closed out with one of their most contagious songs “The Pursuit Of Vikings”. Their assault of melodic death metal, laced with Viking mythology, proved to reach beyond your prototypical metal fan with the diverse mix of people spotted throughout the attendance. While some may have seen Amon Amarth before, for others this was their first live experience, and regardless of who you were or where you came from, it was well worth the trek through the elements for this unforgettable show.