Amon Amarth, Skeletonwitch and Enslaved rock the power out in Pittsburgh

Purveyors of melodic Viking death metal Amon Amarth are out on the road in support of their newest opus, Deceiver Of The Gods. They are trekking their way across the US with fellow agents of doom Enslaved and old school thrashers Skeletonwitch. The tour made a stop in Pittsburgh at Mr. Smalls Theater and, despite a myriad of technical problems, the steel city was left in ruins.

Skeletonwitch started things off and set the bar very high by delivering a pummeling nonstop set of brutal old school thrash with authority. Every member of the band owned the stage and their nine-song set, consisting of tracks like “Burned From Bone,” “Beyond The Permafrost” and “Beneath Dead Leaves,” was extremely well received by the ferocious crowd.

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One song blurred into the next and they only stopped long enough for lead singer Chance Garnette, who looks like a combination of Charles Manson and Otis, from the Rob Zombie film “The Devil’s Rejects,” to address the frenzied crowd.

After talking to the crowd they ripped into closer “Within My Blood,” which ended up blowing out the sound system, thus ending the set prematurely, but in a very metal way.

Norwegian natives Enslaved took to the stage next and wasted no time, diving into a high energy, high-intensity set of doom-laden speed metal, with unbridled passion. When the power cut out for the second time of the night during their first song, “Death In The Eyes Of Dawn,” the band never missed a step and drummer Cato Bekkevold launched into a killer impromptu drum solo to fill the void.

The power was restored again, only to go out one song later for the third time of the evening. To make light of the frustrating situation, frontman Grutle Kjellson started making little jokes of it before each song, saying things like “We’re going to play 50% of this next one,” “Should we do, I mean try some old stuff?” and “Our next attempt is called…”

Closer, “Isa,” was prefaced by Grutle saying “Wow, we played two in a row” and garnered the biggest reception from the crowd so far, with all fans thrusting their horns high in the air and all heads bobbing in neck breaking unison. It also prompted the first decent pit of the evening and was the perfect way to draw their powerhouse set to a dramatic close.

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Up next, all the way from Tumba, Sweden, were melodic death metal pioneers Amon Amarth. The intro music faded as the band hit the stage like a 10 ton battering ram and frontman Johan Hegg took to the mic.

Judging from the overwhelming crowd response, it was quite clear that this was the band everyone had come to see and that the fans absolutely were ready for some Viking metal.

From the opening notes of “Father Of The Wolf,” the fans, that were packed in like sardines, split like the Red Sea to accomodate the moshers and endless waves of crowd surfers. Tracks like “Deceiver Of The Gods,” saw the crowd hanging on Hegg’s every word as he dictated their every move, often raising the volume by just holding his hands in the air.

When the power went out yet again, the imediate chants of “What The Fuck” began, but Hegg just made light of it, by saying “We seem to be having some power issues tonight. That’s ok, we are having fun anyway.”

The band pressed on and the fans ate it up through several more power outages to get to closer “War of the Gods,” where fans vented their power issue frustrations in a brutal pit.

The moment they left the stage, the chants for their imediate return began and they didn’t make the ravenous fans wait very long, before returning to the stage for the two-song encore of “Twilight of the Thunder God” and “The Pursuit of Vikings” during which the power went out an additional two more times.

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Rather than giving up or giving in, the band and fans continued on with pure metal conviction to deliver the last two songs, driving the diehard fans into one final act of carnal aggression.

The constant power issues were not enough to stop the Amon Amarth juggernaut and, despite it all, a good time was had by all who attended, proving that you can’t stop heavy metal or its fanbase, no matter how hard you try.

-Eric Hunker