Photos of Swedish Viking metal/melodic death metal act Amon Amarth? Sure! The band has been carving a path across North America since mid-November on their Great Heathen Tour in support of the band’s latest release, The Great Heathen Army. The Swedes are accompanied by Britain’s Carcass, as well as American acts Obituary and Cattle Decapitation. We caught the tour in its second full week as it came to play one of Boston’s newest venues, MGM Music Hall at Fenway.
With a venue half-full of fans decked out in Viking attire, the night’s festivities started with a blisteringly fast-paced set from deathgrind legends Cattle Decapitation. I’ve never had the chance to catch these guys live, so it was a real treat to hear so many tracks off of their latest release, 2019’s Death Atlas, including “The Geocide,” “Finish Them,” and tongue-in-cheek set closer, “Bring Back the Plague.” The crowd was also treated to a new song from their forthcoming (early 2023) record entitled “We Eat Our Young.” Frontman Travis Ryan sounded incredible, be it low gutturals, high shrieks, or his signature “goblin” style vocals.
Up next, Tampa death metallers Obituary continued the night of mayhem and metal with a neck pain-inducing set of hits, leading off with instrumental “Redneck Stomp” and continuing into the thrashy “Sentence Day” from their 2017 self-titled record. The lineup on this tour is such that it gives you so many flavors of extreme metal, each with something to love.
While the pace may have slowed for Obituary’s set, John Tardy’s signature long, airy growls and the crunchy, shreddy riffage from guitarists Trevor Peres and Ken Andrews were enthralling. Obituary closed their performance with “I’m in Pain” from 1992’s The End Complete and “Don’t Care” from 1994’s World Demise.
Goregrind masters Carcass were an excellent choice as direct support—really taking the night to further levels of heaviness, starting with “Buried Dreams” from 1993’s Heartwork, and continuing with “Kelly’s Meat Emporium” from their latest, 2021’s Torn Arteries. It was impossible not to headbang along to the blast beats and harmonized guitars in the latter track.
There are few bands I’ve seen that are as tight and precise live and as fun to watch as Carcass; it was so cool to get to finally see material from the latest album, which included “Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp & Circumstance March No. 1 in B)” and “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing.” Here’s hoping for a headlining tour in 2023 to hear even more!
The crowd seemed to eat up every minute of it, pushing and spinning around the pit to each track. It wasn’t lost on the band—at one point, frontman Jeff Walker told the audience that they made them feel like they were home in England.
At last, it was time for Amon Amarth—but not before a bit of a lengthy set change! Obscured behind a curtain, the stage was transformed into a fantastical Norse set, with towering Viking statues with glowing eyes and a giant helm complete with horns and LED-screen eyes that served as the drum riser. The band emerged, cloaked in stage fog, to kick right into several hits, starting with the anthemic “Guardians of Asgaard.”
Frontman Johan Hegg, a drinking horn on his hip, bounded around the stage, roaring out every word in his signature deep growl as the ~2500 or so fans in attendance went nuts. The set would go on to feature a cameo by a very evil-looking Loki during “Deceiver of the Gods,” who even briefly did battle with Hegg! It was fantastic to see them playing old fan-favorites like “The Pursuit of Vikings” alongside new tracks like “Find a Way or Make One.”
The set design was so well done as to make the audience feel fully immersed in their performance and in Norse mythology, so it was no surprise when, as on other nights of the tour, several hundred audience members partook in a “row pit” during “Put Your Back Into The Oar,” all sitting down and rowing in unison to the beat! Hegg noted that this was the most significant row pit by far on this tour!
The night closed out with a rousing crowd singalong of the mega-hit “Twilight of the Thunder God.” If you have not seen Amon Amarth yet on this run, now is your chance—they don’t come stateside that often! The tour continues through mid-December, with a slew of dates in major cities like NYC, Toronto, Denver, and more—the remaining dates are below.
Remaining Tour Dates:
11/30 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
12/1 – New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
12/2 – Toronto, ON @ History
12/3 – Laval, QC @ Place Bell
12/5 – Madison, WI @ The Sylvee
12/6 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Fillmore
12/7 – Kansas City, MO @ Uptown
12/9 – Denver, CO @ The Fillmore
12/10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
12/12 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
12/13 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
12/15 – Wheatland, CA @ Hard Rock Live
12/16 – San Diego, CA @ SOMA
12/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Kia Forum