Amon Amarth w/ Arch Enemy, At The Gates, and Grand Magus at the PNE Vancouver

The last Saturday in September was the second weekend in a row that the PNE played host to some Swedish metal.  After last weeks theatrical show from Ghost, this week it was a far darker, but no less entertaining show from four Swedish heavyweights.

Opening the evening events were Grand Magus. The trio from Stockholm were an instant hit with the crowd, I think it may have been their first visit to the city, but they were greeted like old friends, and had the audience in the hands right from the start. It is unfortunate that they only played for about 30 mins, as with 20 years of music they had a lot to choose from. In the end they chose songs most from the Iron Will and Hammer of the North albums. The sizeable crowd really got behind them, and hopefully this will give them the motivation to head back soon.

Next up were Gothenburg death metal favourites, At the Gates. The band, which have had a on again, -off again history, were certainly on again for the show.  Despite a gap of 19 years between Slaughter of the Soul, and 2014’s At War with Reality, the band have made up for lost time be releasing To Drink from the Night Itself in 2018. It was the title tracks from these three albums that opened the night and started the train of crowd surfing bodies heading over the security barrier.

The band played a well-paced set, and even thought it was a relatively short set, they managed to work in an interlude, before returning for Blinded by Fear and ending off the show by leaving the stage one by one for The Night Eternal.

Arch Enemy added a Canadian twist to the evening, with charismatic Montreal born vocalist Alissa White-Gluz providing vocals for the band. The brainchild of Michael Amott , and Johan Liiva ( no longer with the band ), Arch Enemy have been around for almost 25 years, and with 10 albums to their name they have amassed a solid fan base over the years. Amott is rumoured to be working on some new ideas, but the band had not released any new music since 2017’ Will to Power.  Sometimes this can be a good thing though as it means that fans at the show will generally know all the songs, and tonight was no exception. The crowd was “enthusiastic”, with not only beer, hats and bodies flying around, but even a few shoes (????).

Opening the set with The World is Yours from Will To Power, they then took us all the way back to Ravenous, from Wages of Sin, before diving into crowd favourite War Eternal, from the album of the same name. The and were a pleasure to photograph , with great light, and endless energy, add to that White-Gluz’s striking outfit and hair and you cannot go wrong.

Headliners for the evening took us into a very different dimension. Amon Amarth are well known for their Norse themes and having even been coined Viking Metal. The Viking theme was certainly prevalent throughout the arena.  From the Viking Horn drinking cups at the merch booth, to the helmets in the crowd, and this was before the curtain dropped on the stage.

The band are well known for their over the top stage set, and in the past have had full on Viking battles, a Viking ship, and even fire breathing dragons on stage.  Whilst the venue tonight may have been a little small for some of these things, we were still in for a treat though.

We were left in no doubt about the band’s latest offering, and the title BERSERKER was front and centre across the curtain before the start of the show. After a couple of Iron Maiden tracks to warm up the crowd the curtain dropped and revealed a massive Viking helmet drum riser. The band headed onto the stage with vocalist Johan Hegg looking ever inch the Norse god, and broke into Ravens Flight, from the latest album. Berserker has been well received by fans, and the band were more than happy to share songs from it, with the awesome Crack the Sky, Fafner’s Gold Mjölner, Hammer of Thor, and the latest single Shield Wall all featuring in the set.

The remainder of the set was culled from across the catalogue with the band closing out with the seminal The Pursuit of Vikings and Twilight of the Thunder God.

Whilst we may not have gotten the full Viking ship treatment, we were still treated to a Viking battle to the death between two warriors during The Way of the Vikings

All in, it was a great end to night from some of Sweden’s best, and everyone I am sure went home happy…and I hope whoever threw the shoes found them before they went home 😊