Amon Amarth / Entombed A.D. / Exmortus Metropolis, Montreal QC, April 29

Amon Amarth / Entombed A.D. / Exmortus Metropolis, Montreal QC, April 29
Photo: Chris Bubinas
Montreal's Metropolis was invaded by Viking hordes last night (April 29) as the mighty Amon Amarth arrived, and brought with them American allies Exmortus and Swedish outfit Entombed A.D. to wage war with them.
Exmortus were the first band to explode onto the stage. Opening act or not, the razor-sharp technical thrash upstarts seemed hell-bent on ripping the roof off the already packed concert hall. This year seems to see the band playing bigger stages each month, as the metal collective tune into the raw power of their 2016 release Ride Forth and further their reputation as incredibly adept and high-energy live performers.
For riff aficionados, it was a six-song bombardment of jaw-dropping proportions. In what had to be a skin-of-their-teeth performance holding all the chaos together, the band performed a blistering set. Frontman Conan Gonzalez wailed on his six-string, and channelled his vocal savagery into the mic in front of him as the band tore through a tight six-song selection gleaned from their last two albums. "For the Horde," whose opening is easily a candidate for the riff of the year, really stood out, but the band nodded to their classical influences too, playing their extraordinary rendition of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata (Act 3)."
Next to storm the stage were four-piece death metal outfit Entombed A.D. Formerly known only as Entombed, the Swedish band spawned in 2014 with a lightly modified lineup and a resurgence mission in mind. Now touring in support of their well received 2016 album release Dead Dawn, the band seemed determined to celebrate their earliest roots, flex their new material and entirely disregard the ten years death'n'roll they created in between. Their set, and the reception by the crowd, suggested that this was a great strategy.
The band decimated the crowd with nine choice cuts, and some very diverse selections, culled from over 25 years of recordings. With flailing hair basked in the green and blue light of the stage, their classic death performances of "Living Dead," "Revel in Flesh" and the title track from their 1991 release, Left Hand Path, proved desolate and relentless in the best possible way. On the other hand, some of the more vibrant and in-your-face material, such as "Midas in Reverse" and "Dead Dawn," from their latest album, were delivered exceptionally well live.
Even with a history and reputation like Entombed A.D. it was the punchy and incredibly catchy "The Winner has Lost," from their newest album, that proved the standout performance of the night. The resurgence mission, it seems, is coming along nicely; the song sent the crowd into a rabid, unearthly, whirling frenzy.
As impressive as the first two bands were though, it was still abundantly clear that the crowd came mostly for one main thing: Vikings.
Five-piece melodic death metal titans Amon Amarth came wielding new sonic arsenal. Touring in support of their acclaimed 2016 concept album, Jomsviking, the band flattened their horn-throwing disciples with a relentless barrage of material, new and old. Quad windmill headbanging on stage was commonplace as the band quickly set into droves of material.
After opening with the guttural and grinding "The Pursuit of Vikings" from 2004's Fate of Norns, they leapt into the spiralling and anthemic "As Loke Falls" from their Deceiver of the Gods album. Next saw a healthy offering of material from their latest album, during which two Viking warriors flanked the stage, wielding swords and threatening the crowd with enormous bows as the band ripped through three Jomsviking tracks, including the standout "First Kill," which sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Lead singer Johan Hegg moved deftly around the set, including the elevated platform that sat perched atop a gargantuan Viking helmet that sat in the centre of the stage. The crowd thrashed and failed and sang below, as the band navigated their vast catalogue with selections like "Destroyer of the Universe," "War of the Gods" and "Runes to my Memory." Galloping guitar riffs and guttural vocals volleyed into the crowd like fiery arrows, and the audience went ballistic for possibly the heaviest song of the night, shouting "Death in fire!" in unison with the band as they played the song by that same name from 2002's breakthrough, Versus the World.
Johan Hegg was celebrating a birthday on the day, and when presented on stage with a birthday cake, he gazed intently at it before finally tossing it down into the crowd below for the circle pits to stomp upon. Then, saving the best for last, Amon Amarth closed the night with "Twilight of the Thunder God," as the 2000 fans in attendance moshed and sang below.