Photos by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
Story by Andrew Link, Reporter
An army full of black T-shirts, beards and metal horns descended on the Granada in Lawrence, Kansas, Friday for a night full of blistering guitars, relentless drums and a Viking warrior duel. Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth was in town on their Jomsviking World Tour with support from Entombed A.D. and Exmortus.
Promising up-and-comers Exmortus hit the stage with a sonic explosion of devastating guitar riffs and merciless drum work. The crowd was put on its heels at first, but quickly started pumping fists and moshing to the California-based band. The most surprising part of their set was a metal cover of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” The composition and delivery were breathtaking. Both guitarists worked the crowd into a flurry with intricately honed artistry that would leave Beethoven slack-jawed at the masterpiece.
Swedish metal band Entombed A.D. followed Exmortus to the stage, maintaining the momentum and revving the crowd even more. As pioneers of the metal scene and veterans of almost 30 years, Entombed A.D. wasted no time jumping into their signature rock-inspired “death ‘n’ roll” style. Vocalist Lars-Göran Petrov could hardly complete a single sentence between tracks without the crowd erupting into a cacophony of cheers as the band plunged from one song into the next.
Amon Amarth brought the roof down as soon as they hit the stage. Wasting no time with introductions, the band dove directly into the fan-favorite “Pursuit of Vikings.” The band’s members let loose a torrent of headbanging and long-haired windmilling along with the sea of singing fans. Vocalist Johann Hegg was ever-conscious of what the crowd was doing, high-fiving metal enthusiasts and leading them in chants. “We want you to sing along with us, even if you don’t know the lyrics,” Hegg urged the crowd. “It’s death metal! No one will know the difference!”
Amon Amarth is known for making each of their 10 albums an auditory odyssey, weaving sagas of Viking mythology and Scandinavian culture into almost every song. The set list was likewise designed to tell a complete story as warriors in full Viking regalia raised banners and clashed swords. Due to the smaller size of the venue, tour manager Chris Parschau said the band didn’t have room to play from its signature longship on stage. Instead, fans were treated to billowing smoke and thematically changing backdrops and lighting as the band thundered from a raised dais, lifting drinking horns and spirits high.
The band took a short departure to cries for an encore. Hegg investigated, poking his head back on stage and jokingly asking, “Oh? You guys are still here?” The group heeded the calls of the crowd and returned to the stage, fittingly concluding the tale they’d woven so far with “Twilight of the Thunder God,” a song about Ragnarök – the end of the world in Viking myth.