Amon Amarth, Eluveitie, Holy Grail Hollywood Show Review
Honoring the gods, or the pagan ancestors, can only be appropriately embraced by passionate music, and last nights sold out show at the House of Blues in Hollywood, with Holy Grail, Eluveitie, and legendary Viking metallers, Amon Amarth, evoked the ancients, and a legion of metal heads in Los Angeles got a taste of myth. Driving up to the venue, we noticed the line all the way down sunset, and we knew we had better hurry and park. An ocean of T-shirts with Thors Hammers, scruffy beards, and a few scattered Viking helmets lined the Sunset strip in front of the House of Blues nervously jittering with anticipation. We finally parked across the street, slammed the rest of a bottle of wine, and jaywalked across Sunset. After much, "sold out show increased security”, We finally got our tickets and the photo pass for Missie Bullets to take pictures for The Gauntlet.com, just in time to hear Holy Grail begin their set.
Holy Grail is clearly a talented power metal band, and it's refreshing to see a diverse bill. At times I was having trouble telling if Holy Grail was a true power metal outfit, or blatant cock-rock. If it weren't for all the "sword” talk, it would be difficult to categorize them any other way. There were a few moments when the drummer was completely off, and barely avoided a complete dive bomb, but the guitar work, and the vocalist is clearly what holds Holy Grail together. Brilliant chops, and jumping up and down on top of that; pretty fucking kick ass. But like a good opening band always should do, they kept it short, and warmed the crowd up for some great bands.
The crowd started getting rowdy even before Eluveitie started playing. The sound techs we're getting applause as they hauled every manner of strange instrumentation on stage. "They're a folk metal band taking it to a whole other plane” Said Josh Miller, who discovered Eluveitie on a compilation disc entitled "Pagan Fire” a few years ago. ‘”They're Fantastic. It's another perspective on the music, and it shows what metal can possess. They have bagpipes, flute, and the hurdy gurdy; it's completely awesome. It makes the music and the show so enjoyable.” Eluveitie was a horde of a band. It was hard to tell where the band and crowd ended. There we so many people on stage, and bodies were flying around the House of Blues so much, I felt like we were setting sail on a Viking ship being rocked by a pagan metal storm. "I read a sign in here that said "No Moshing Allowed”. Said vocalist Chrigel Glanzmann to the crowd. "What about circle pits?” He chided to screams and a subsequent ocean of bodies swirling in front of the stage. It was such a pleasure to see Eluveitie in a venue where I could actually hear all their instruments. Truth be known, the band is truly a horde of instrumentation. The vocalist hops between mandolin, flute, screaming and singing. Other members swap bagpipes for whistles, and flutes if they're not singing backing vocals for choruses. Eluveitie is a metal band, this is true, but they know how to play traditional music as good as anything thing I've ever heard. The Swiss folk songs are so catchy; I had to clap my hands with everyone else at several points. It's the kind of music that makes you want to dance on tables, forget your worries, and swig a pint or ten. Watching Eluveitie, I thought for a moment what a trip it was to see a guy playing a mandolin and screaming death growls in a microphone, but in this case, it just works.
Enter Amon Amarth. Something about Amon Amarth evokes magic, but not just the "Lord of the Rings” kind of magic, this magic is real, and it boils in our blood and in our past. "I would like to dedicate this one to our ancestors,” says vocalist Johan Hegg as he dedicates "Varyags of Miklagaard". Amon Amarth sound fucking massive, and tight as ever despite bassist Ted Lundström absent from the crew. "Ted, would love to be here tonight, but yesterday, he just became a father.” Said Johan to the crowd as they roared as if they were all extended family. "Now were going to play a calmer song” he says, as they sludge into "Under a Northern Star”, as the song is warming up, Johan walks to the edge of the stage and grabs a drinking horn and throws it into the crowd.
Amon Amarth didn't change the formula one bit. One of the most brilliant things about them in their sheer simplicity. What else do you need? Two guitars, and little chorus and delay on the solo parts, and a Viking doing vocals; considered the gods honored. They played every hit song in their catalog, from "Pursuit of Vikings” to "Runes to my Memory”, and if I were to offer one criticism, it would be that they haven't put anything out since "Twilight of the Thunder God” in 2008.
But that didn't stop Amon Amarth and Eluveitie from selling out the House of Blues on the first night of their U.S. tour. The most magical thing about both of these bands isn't only the fantastic music they play, but what's behind that music. There is such a sense of history and legend that people connect with; every one feels connected to the pantheon. The gods and ancestors were honored, but so was Los Angeles.