with Carcass, Obituary, Cattle Decapitation
Reserved Seating Available
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Please note that artist merchandise sales are separate and may still accept cash.
From pole to pole and sea to sea, AMON AMARTH are undisputed kings of Viking heavy metal. Formed in Tumba, Sweden, in 1992, they have forged an extraordinary legacy over three decades of thunderous, anthemic metal, all rich in the magical imagery of Viking history, folklore and culture.
From their underground smash debut Once Sent From The Golden Hall (1998) onwards, Amon Amarth have been an unstoppable creative force. With a unique and unmistakable sound that combines the best of several epic strains of metal, the quintet have become renowned for their ageless anthems and explosive, theatrical live shows. Albums like 2008’s widely acclaimed Twilight Of The Thunder God and 2016’s conceptual triumph Jomsviking, the Swedes have been consistent standard bearers for heavy metal as a life-affirming and communal experience, armed with a seemingly endless stream of instant classic songs.
Now reaping the rewards of all those years of hard work, Amon Amarth are now regarded as one of the metal world’s most vital and imperious live acts. From headlining festivals across Europe to claiming a place on Slayer’s final tour of the US in 2019, they have honoured the adventurous ethos of their Viking forebears by taking their music anywhere and everywhere.
Unfortunately, as the world ground to a halt early in 2020, Amon Amarth were in the midst of a wildly successful world tour in support of their most recent album, Berserker. Disappointed but unbowed, the band decided instead to forge a new creative path, resulting in their most crushing and heroic full-length album to date, The Great Heathen Army.
“Basically, we were in South America when the shit hit the fan, so we had to cancel the last couple of shows and head home,” recalls vocalist Johan Hegg. “At first we thought we’d just see how it played out, and maybe book a couple of tours, but fairly soon we realised it was going to be a long hiatus. When it was getting close to being a year, we thought, fuck it, there’s no point in going back out on the road with an old album, so let’s just start working on new stuff instead. So that’s what we did.”
One of the best-loved metal bands in the world, Amon Amarth are firmly dedicated to aiming high when they hit the studio. Recorded with esteemed studio guru Andy Sneap at the controls, The Great Heathen Army represents another bold leap forward for the band, as their trademark sound undergoes yet another skilful, evolutionary overhaul, both lyrically and musically. From the noisily rabble-rousing Find A Way Or Make One and the pummelling, pugilistic Get In The Ring, to the evocative fury of Saxons & Vikings and the cinematic squall of the title track, The Great Heathen Army encapsulates the essence of this legendary band, while still allowing acres of space for new ideas.
“Again, The Great Heathen Army is not a concept album like Jomsviking, but I’m taking inspiration from some of the same historical elements,” says Hegg. “There were also some really cool and different ideas I wanted to explore, and they came very much from my wife, Maria, who has been tapping into the more esoteric aspects of Viking lifestyle and culture. Musically, I would say there are a couple of surprises on there, a little bit of uncharted territory for Amon Amarth. Overall it’s one of the heavier albums we’ve made. There are some dark and heavy songs that are really powerful and in-your-face, but we obviously have some trademark Amon Amarth songs on there as well, and a few surprises. It’s a really well-balanced album. It sounds great. Andy Sneap is awesome. It was great to be able to work with him again.”
Buoyed by the most dynamic and destructive set of songs Amon Amarth have written in a long time, The Great Heathen Army is an album fuelled by inspirational stories. While still rooted in times past, these tales of bravery, brutality and dogged determination have very obvious resonances amid the troubled times we live in today.
“That’s kind of what the song Find A Way Or Make One is about,” Hegg notes. “You might be facing obstacles, whether it’s the pandemic or something else, and there are no ways around it, so you have to make a way. That’s what the Vikings did. You can’t stop fighting just because there is something in your way. I often use mythology and history as a backdrop for other things I want to discuss. I’ve always done that. The Great Heathen Army is about when the invading Viking fleet arrived in England in 865 AD. The Vikings had been raiding England for a long time, but this army was something else. It was an invasion army and deadly effective against the British. It’s a massive historical event. It’s fascinating. Somehow, the English won and they defeated the heathen army, so anything is possible!”
Armed with their 12th and arguably finest album to date, Amon Amarth are poised to return to full action with a bloody, broadsword-wielding vengeance. The release of The Great Heathen Army will kick-start another relentless global campaign, commencing with a co-headlining tour of Europe alongside Machine Head and fellow countrymen The Halo Effect. Still ruthlessly devoted to the ways of the warrior, Amon Amarth have Odin’s wind in their sails like never before.
“We’ve always had the mindset to always outdo ourselves and write a stronger album than the previous one,” Hegg concludes. “We always try to do something special with each album, too. Song by song, I think this might be one of the strongest albums we’ve ever made. It was really difficult to agree on the singles for the videos, because everyone had such different opinions. I think that’s a good sign!”
Ferocious and uncompromising in their execution, CARCASS’s ability to intricately dissect the innards of death metal, and display them for us to sonically understand has been their point of excellence for over three decades. Last December (2019) the band released their first single in over 5 years “Under The Scalpel Blade,” followed by a 4 song EP entitled Despicable (October 2020), setting a potent precedent for the full length album to come in 2021: TORN ARTERIES. With the album title itself referencing an old demo created by original drummer Ken Own back in the 80’s, TORN ARTERIES sits as a bookend on the modern side of the CARCASS discography, connecting directly back to where everything began over 30 years ago.
The album artwork also rings reminiscent of the grotesque photography that appears on classic CARCASS album covers like Reek Of Putrefaction of Symphonies of Sickness. Artist Zbigniew Bielak traveled outside his normal wheelhouse to bring forth a time lapsed set of photos showing vegetables shaped like a heart, rotting over time upon a white plate. This form of artwork was influenced by Japanese Kusôzu, meaning: ‘painting of the nine stages of a decaying corpse.’
“It’s very clean, white, which we’ve never done before,” explains Vocalist and Bassist Jeff Walker, “it doesn’t look evil, or typically death metal, but I like how clean it is; almost like a coffee table book.” This new album presents images, lyrics, and sounds that so distinctly scream CARCASS, but ferry us into a new era of production, songwriting, and art all together.
“I think as our 7th album, it does stand out from the others both sonically and stylistically,” explains Walker. “You can definitely tell that it’s CARCASS; when you drop that needle on the vinyl, when you hear that guitar tone, you can tell it’s Bill Steer, but each album is always a product of its time.”
The general approach to writing hasn’t changed much over the years for CARCASS. “There’s no real designed method,” analyzes Walker, “no one’s writing a song, coming in the room, and saying: ‘this is how the song goes.’ A lot of these songs are written around a rhythm, or an idea: have we ever had a song with this type of intro? Have we ever had a song with this type of drumming? If we didn’t care, we’d do the same generic, verse-chorus song writing bullshit, but we don’t want to repeat ourselves. We’re always trying to remain creative and have a valid purpose in what we’re doing.”
With TORN ARTERIES, each track stands unique from the rest in its approach to guitar, bass, vocals and drumming, along with all the finer details. Filthy and dominating guitar work creates thick layers of tone and melody, piling on top of each other like the weight of dead flesh in tracks like “Kelly’s Meat Emporium.”
“The working title for Kelly’s was originally ‘Stock Carcass,’” laughs Walker “we knew that one was a real meat and potatoes track for the album.” Meanwhile the elevated speed and catchy beat in “Dance of Ixtab” tell a robust and airier story, one that is certain to get a reaction from live crowds. “We built this song around the beat,” explains Walker, “we had an approach to each song that was a definite idea. It’s all about ‘what haven’t we done before?’”
Curious about the lyrics? CARCASS bets you are, but don’t expect them to be an easy puzzle to solve. Over the years metalheads the world over have referenced CARCASS’s complex, bizarre, and gore filled lyrics with affection, humor, and fascination. This time around will require fans to actually purchase the physical album, and closely examine the artwork in order to place the lyrics in their proper order. “I’d rather people spend time actually going through the record, listening to it, taking the words out as they hear them, and from there try to draw their own conclusions of what the lyrics are, instead of delivering them on a plate,” chuckles Walker.
Recording and Production for TORN ARTERIES wasn’t as simple as sitting down for a few weeks and knocking it all out, but rather spread out over the course of approximately 1 year bouncing back and forth between England and Sweden. Initially, drummer Daniel Wilding did session work in Sweden at Studio Gröndahl with David Castillo while guitars were recorded at The Stationhouse with James Atkinson in Leeds, England. Eventually needing some form of residential location to finalize vocals, bass, and other guitarwork, the band headed back to studio Gröndahl in Sweden to continue work in a very relaxed atmosphere with Castillo. “There was no real big plan to do it this way, the process just organically grew on its own,” says Walker.
Most will find that the only real struggle when indulging in TORN ARTERIES is fighting the desire to start it over the second it finishes. It covers substantial new ground for a band with such a reputation, while still retaining that addictive, time honoured CARCASS sound that has come to represent the face of true death metal.
Cattle Decapitation have never shied away from confronting the awfulness wrought upon the natural world by the human race, and Death Atlas is their bleakest offering to date. The cover art says it all, a stooped, skeletal Grim Reaper carrying the burnt-out husk of our planet on his back. “The core concept of this record is humanity’s insignificance despite what we’ve convinced ourselves,” explains vocalist Travis Ryan. “That’s kind of why this album cover takes place in space, to remind you that ‘the universe always finds a way to purge’. In the grand scheme of things, our species is merely a fleeting thought.” Backing this up with a ferocious soundtrack, it’s one of the most shocking and unflinching records of 2019, demanding an emotional response, and forcing people to think about their own contributions to the devastation of the planet.