This past Thursday, October 10th was another Scandinavian metal night for me. More specifically, it was a night full of top-notch Swedish Metal bands. It was the first of two sold-out nights at MTelus, beloved venue formally and still referred to as Metropolis by fans, on their “Berserker World Tour ‘19.”
It was an early show and the first of four bands started promptly at 19h00. Grand Magus of Stockholm Sweden, is a three-piece heavy metal band who have been playing under that name since 1999. Members are Janne “JB” Christoffersson on guitars/lead vocals, Mats “Fox” Skinner on bass/backing vocals and Ludwig “Ludde” Witt on drums. They have nine studio albums and their latest one, Wolf God, came out earlier this year.
I arrived a few minutes after they started and caught the end of their track, “I, the Jury.” The first thing I noticed about them was how clear their playing and vocals are and oh man can Christoffersson carry a note. It was a short set at only 20 minutes but it was certainly a quality one. They mentioned it was their first time playing in Montreal and I think they were really stoked for the turn-out and the audience response. Their last track was “Hammer of the North” from their 2010 album of the same name and it was also an impressive track.
In between sets when the house lights came on just a bit, I started to notice more of the crowd. Lots of people dressed as Vikings, or sporting Viking-esque accessories like horned helmets (although I’ve heard the whole horned helmet thing is a myth) and horn drinking vessels which people were pouring their beers into. There was lots of long hair, puffy chests and testosterone but a friendly crowd it was indeed.
Next up, and starting right on schedule, was At the Gates from Gothenburg, Sweden. Members are Tomas Lindberg as vocals, Adrian Erlandsson on drums, Jonas Björler on bass, Martin Larsson on rhythm guitar and Jonas Stålhammar on lead guitar. They formed in 1990 and have six studio albums, the latest of which was the self-titled track they opened with, “To Drink from the Night Itself.” They are a nice mesh of death and melodic metal which you can hear is almost every track. Their set was longer than the first at about 35 minutes. It was fast, heavy and their vocals are more on the death metal end. A couple of tracks that stood out for me were, “The Colours of the Beast,” “Cold” and their last track of the set “The Eternal Night.”
After only a brief interlude, Arch Enemy from Halmstad, Sweden began their set. They have been around since 1995, have 10 studio albums and are a five-piece band with current members Michael Amott on guitars/backing vocals, Daniel Erlandsson on drums, Sharlee D’Angelo on bass, Alissa White-Gluz as lead vocals and Jeff Loomis on guitars/backing vocals. They opened with “The World is Yours” and they also struck me as a band that employs elements of both death and melodic metal. The set was perhaps a little more theatrical than the previous ones with lights and costumes, lead vocalist White-Gluz seemed to be wearing batwings. I found her vocals to be deceiving in that they are deep and course, I would have not guessed it was a female vocalist, this is not a critique, merely an observation. An interesting fact is that she’s from Montreal and the founding member of the band Agonist. A few tracks that I really liked were “My Apocalypse,” “First Day in Hell” and their last one “Nemesis.”
And finally the most theatrical of the night and the band that brought out all the Vikings was Amon Amarth. Formed in 1992 in Tumba Sweden, they’re a five-piece band with 11 studio albums, the latest being Berserker from earlier this year. Current members are Olavi Mikkonen on lead guitar, Johan Hegg as vocals, Ted Lundström on bass, Johan Söderberg on rhythm guitar and Jocke Wallgren on drums. If you’re a Tolkien nerd like me you may have recognized the band’s name, it’s the Sindarin name for “Mount Doom” in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. And like Middle-earth, the band’s stage has a lot going on. The drum kit sits atop a massive helmeted skull with fire, lights and visuals in its eyes. People in full Viking garb seemingly battling it out for who will be king of the stage. According to their Wikipedia page, the band has “been linked with Viking metal, although the band themselves prefer to be referred to as melodic death metal.” I think their stage presence says otherwise. They opened with “Raven’s Flight” which is from the new album. Other tracks of mention were “First Kill,” “Crack the Sky,” “Shield Wall” and “Raise Your Horns.” The first encore had the crowd singing along with “The Pursuit of Vikings” and they ended with what was arguably their breakthrough 2008 track from the album of the same name, “Twilight of the Thunder God.” And while they were playing, one of their on-stage Viking performers was vanquishing a giant inflatable dragon right of the stage using Thor’s hammer. Having been rescued, along with the audience, the band said a final farewell and welcomed those who would be returning for a second round the following night.
Written by Joey Beaudin
Photography by Marc-Antoine Morin
*edited by Mike Milito