Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth

It was nearly two decades ago when an unlikely collective from Tumba, Sweden affectionately known as Scum reared its callow head upon an unsuspecting underground. Initially a death/grind group made of jagged riffs, dark atmospheres, untethered vitriol and copious amounts of mead, Scum prowled the burgeoning Stockholm metal scene unnoticed before enlisting vocalist Johan Hegg to their ranks in 1992. Little did the young warriors know that Hegg's imposing stature, Thor-like growl and treasure-trove of Viking-related lyrical themes would inevitably help shape the very core of their sound.

The band later changed their name to Amon Amarth — "mount doom" in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium — and unleashed the five-song Thor Arise demo. Though raw and uneven in sound and execution — it was their first demo, after all — their infectious brand of epic-sounding brutality and unadorned conviction caught the attention of vigilant metallers searching for a new variety of extreme. Amon Amarth continued to sharpen their warring death metal skills with The Arrival Of The Fimbul Winter demo and subsequent Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds EP and by 1997 found themselves on Metal Blade Records, where they remain to this day.

A compelling fusion of buzzsaw riff work, melodic harmonies and soul-crushing rhythms punctuated by Hegg's callous black/death roar and accounts of Norse battles and treachery, Amon Amarth's 1998 Metal Blade debut, Once Sent From The Golden Hall, earned the band international accolades by critics and fans alike. For the next ten years and an astounding six full-lengths, Amon Amarth marched on, longswords in hand, pillaging their way through countless tours and festival appearances stateside and abroad. With each passing recording came a discernable growth in musicianship and a deeper connection with the Nordic myths that make their already brutalic sound all the more absorbing.

A record Metal Hammer called "the biggest and most powerful" the band had ever recorded, 2008's heroic Twilight Of The Thunder God was applauded around the globe. The record landed at position #6 in the official German album Charts as well as #10 in Finland, #11 in Sweden, #14 in Austria, #21 in Switzerland, and #48 in the difficult to crack US. Time Out New York commended the Swedes for playing "some of the most unabashedly epic metal you're likely to find these days," while The Village Voice agreed stating, "the Viking war metal Of Amon Amarth is limitless." Twilight Of The Thunder God earned the #7 position in Revolver Magazine's Top 20 Albums that year and was met with numerous European tours/fest appearances as well as a victorious North American headlining tour in October 2008. In 2009 the band returned to the states for another successful stretch of headline dates with Goatwhore, Skeleton Witch and Lazarus AD and again in 2010 with Holy Grail and Eluveitie! In addition, Amon Amarth was crowned "Best Breakthrough Act" at Metal Hammer's prestigious Golden Gods Awards and earned a support slot on the European leg of the Unholy Alliance Chapter III tour featuring Slayer. The band even made their way to India for the first time, headlining the Deccan Rock Festival in Bangalore as well as tours in China and Taiwan!

Released in 2011, the eighth long-player in Amon Amarth's winding discography, Surtur Rising offered ten tracks of fist-raising, peck-flexing, hyper climactic fight anthems led by the fiery lungs of Hegg, searing rhythms and a volatile twin riff assault with a courser, more organic-sounding production to add more depth to their already consuming tone. PopMatters.com exclaimed "Surtur Rising is just the latest step of Amon Amarth's quest for legendary status, and it's a big step in the right direction, too. Packed with technical riffs, mind-blowing solos, and enough Viking imagery to burn a small village, Surtur Rising raises the bar once again" while major UK music magazine Kerrang stated that "every moment is charged with the perfect balance of power, melody and muscle." The album landed the #34 spot on the Billboard Top 200, #6 on the Billboard Top Independent Album, #1 on the Billboard Top Hard Music Albums and #10 on the Indy/Small Chain Core Store Chart. The record entered Austria's Top 40 Chart at #12 and Switzerland's Top 100 at #20. In Germany, Surtur Rising sold over 14,000 units, entered the Top 100 Chart at #8 and is in the official Media Mark charts at #14 in its second week. In addition, Surtur Rising came in at #19 on Canada's Top 200 Chart, #5 on the Independent Charts and #2 on Hard Charts. The record is #1 in Canada on Itunes' Top Metal albums, and also charted on the following: #16 Top 200, #3 Top Rock and #1 Top Metal. In the U.S., the record ranked in at #2 on iTunes' Rock Album chart and #20 in the Top 200 (overallalbum chart).

In support of Surtur Rising, Amon Amarth decided to play a US tour on their own giving fans what they had been screaming for—An Evening with Amon Amarth—and it was so successful the band returned to the states to do it a second time around. Each tour featured double sets from the band who played Surtur Rising in its entirety followed by a second set that was a "Best Of" the band's catalog.

The band is currently preparing for the release of their ninth full-length album, which will be out this June as the band tours across the United States with the likes of Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon, and Behemoth, just to name a few, on 2013's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.

Enslaved is a progressive black metal band formed in June 1991 in Sveio, Norway, and currently based out of Bergen, Norway by Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson (also known as Kjell Grutle) when they were 13 and 17 years old, respectively. The band name was inspired by an Immortal demo track, "Enslaved in Rot".[2] After many line-up changes throughout their career, Bjørnson and Kjellson are the only remaining original members. By 2004 the line-up solidified with guitarist Arve "Ice Dale" Isdal, drummer Cato Bekkevold, and keyboardist/vocalist Herbrand Larsen.
Bjørnson and Kjellson had been playing in a death metal band called Phobia, but like many in the burgeoning black metal movement, they were looking for new sources of inspiration and expression. Though Enslaved began as a prototypical Norwegian black metal band, they always incorporated song structures unusual for the genre, with several of their early songs expanding past the ten-minute mark. The album Eld (1997) is often considered to be the beginning of the band's shift towards progressive metal. The band's shift toward progressive viking metal was rendered complete with Mardraum (2000), which contained several multi-part epics such as "Større enn tid - Tyngre enn natt" and "Entrance - Escape"; from that point onward, the band's influence from progressive rock became stronger on each successive record, with several tracks (most prominently, "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" from Below the Lights) even using mellotron.[3] Mardraum, Monumension (2001), and Below the Lights (2003) can be regarded as having somewhat similar styles, although there is a clear progression of sound between the albums regardless; however, Isa (2004) and Ruun (2006) show a marked departure from previous sounds, most notably, with inclusion of sharp dynamic shifts.
Although the band has used mainly English lyrics since Monumension, their albums before that were mostly recorded in Norwegian except on their first full-length album, where three songs had Icelandic lyrics, while the lyrics on Heimdallr was an Old Norse excerpt from Gylfaginning by Snorri Sturluson. Most of their lyrics relate to Norse mythology.
In 2007-2008 Bjørnson, Kjellson, and Isdal collaborated with the Norwegian noise duo Fe-Mail, under the name Trinacria. Enslaved released the album Vertebrae in September 2008. On this particular album, many of their techniques, particularly harmonies, have been compared to Pink Floyd. After touring Europe extensively, Enslaved embarked on a North American tour with the progressive death metal band Opeth in May 2009.[4] Enslaved released their eleventh studio album, Axioma Ethica Odini, on September 27, 2010 in Europe and the following day in North America

In 2003, when American teenagers were raiding the makeup sections of their local Halloween shops to paint up like their favorite black metal bands… there was Skeletonwitch.

In 2005, when every burnout who sold enough weed bought an Orange amp and tuned their guitar down to “C”… there was Skeletonwitch.

In 2007, when kids with pricey haircuts and freshly inked full-sleeves learned two At The Gates riffs and simplified them with breakdowns… there was Skeletonwitch.

In 2010, when sweep-picking Guitar Center employees decided to eschew songwriting and showcase their “chops” in soulless robotic fashion… there was Skeletonwitch.

Today, in a landscape that finds them surrounded by a) bands begging their own fans for money,

b) vest-wearing, by-the-numbers “retro” rock nostalgia and c) heavy labels blindly signing bands based on breast implants… there, still, is Skeletonwitch, a band that has successfully carved its own left-hand path with an unwavering quality of metal and old-fashioned hard work.

This organic approach has garnered legions of fans and an undeniable level of respect in the worldwide metal community from both sides of the stage.

As SKELETONWITCH celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, it’s fitting to reflect on some notable numbers from the band’s first decade of destruction:

4: Number of full-length releases (with #5 due on Oct. 29)

2: Number of those full-lengths to crack the Billboard Top 200

1 each: Number of times they’ve appeared on the covers of Decibel and Terrorizer magazines

7: European tours including performances at the metal’s largest and most respected festivals such as Wacken, Summer Breeze, Graspop, Tuska, Bloodstock and more

500,000+: Number of miles the band has traveled across North America

0: Number of those miles driven by someone other than guitarist Nate Garnette

Countless: cans of beer consumed, high fives given and good times had

Since signing with Prosthetic seven years ago, a new SKELETONWITCH album has materialized like clockwork every other October. First, there was the group’s sophomore breakthrough, “Beyond The Permafrost.” Produced by late GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot and featuring iconic artwork by John Baizley (Baroness, Kylesa, Kvelertak), the album – and subsequent tours with the likes of Danzig, Dimmu Borgir and Amon Amarth – told the world what the rest of Ohio already knew: that SKELETONWITCH was a metal force to be reckoned with. That album’s “Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery” would eventually be featured in the video game “Brutal Legend,” placing the band in excellent company with digitized versions of Rob Halford, Ozzy and Lemmy.

Then came 2009′s “Breathing The Fire,” produced by the legendary Jack Endino (Nirvana, High

On Fire, 3 Inches of Blood). Supported by tours with Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom and Ozzfest, the album – the band’s first featuring bassist Evan Linger, and also their first to crack the Billboard Top 200 – caught the attention of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, who invited the group to film a zombie-themed video for the song “Bringers of Death” that the band members still haven’t stopped hearing about.

In 2011, “Forever Abomination” – produced by Grammy-winner Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones) – saw the arrival of drummer Dustin Boltjes (ex-Demiricous), as well as a return visit to the Billboard Top 200. On the road, the group toured alongside Arch Enemy, Kvelertak, The Black Dahlia Murder and Nile before embarking on their most ambitious trek to date: a 63-shows-in-65-days test of endurance that they passed with flying colors.

2013 brings us to “Serpents Unleashed,” the group’s fifth and latest release. Recorded with Kurt Ballou (Converge, High On Fire, Isis) in Salem, Mass. (insert bad “witch” joke here), the album – which features artwork by Baizley, who returns to the fold for the first time in six years – is another blistering helping of two-and-a-half minute blasts of blackened metal amalgamation.

This time around, the band also shows off a few new tricks – note the Scandinavian doom-vibe in the opening of “Unending, Everliving” and the devil’s swing of “This Evil Embrace” – but does so without compromising the frosty/fiery/abominable metal spirit or blue-collar humility that has endeared them to so many over the past decade. Ultimately, it’s both a fitting testament

to what they’ve accomplished to date, and an exciting nod toward what the future has in store.

As for that future, in 2020, when pedal-steel rasta-metal will be all the rage, there will be

SKELETONWITCH, still doing what they – and, most importantly, their fans – love, trends be damned.

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Amon Amarth with Enslaved, SKELETONWITCH

Saturday, January 18 · 7:00 PM at Club Red

Off Sale