Since the 13th century, King John’s castle stands tall on the banks of the river Shannon, but long before that, it was a Viking stronghold; Inis Sibhtonn, Kings Island. 1000 years later, the Vikings ‘Amon Amarth’ have returned to reclaim it, with Polish black metal titans ‘Behemoth’ by their side. This is an iconic show for the Irish metal community, made possible by DME Promotions, Dolans, and Bad Reputation Ireland.
As the crowds gathered outside the castle there was no doubt this was going to be something special, and despite some grumblings from a local councillor that the concert should be banned due to ‘Polish Satanists,’ there were no protesters in sight. The organisation of the event was fantastic. Queues of metal fans filtered through security with ease, entered the castle grounds, stocked up on merch, beer, and waited in anticipation for the spectacle that was about to unfold.
The eerie intro of ‘Solve’ signalled Behemoth’s entrance to the stage, each member receiving their own cheer as the quartet took position. As the intro faded, they ripped into ‘Wolves of Siberia.’ The sound was phenomenal, enhanced by flames that engulfed the masked figures that stood before us.
A well-paced ‘Ora Pro Nobis’ followed, along with some stand out tracks including ‘Bartzabel,’ and ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel.’ Nergal had obviously been following the local councillor ramblings, stating; “No political faction, sect or religion can stop us from being who we are: freethinking, music worshipping mother fuckers!” and leading into “Conquer All.”
‘Lucifer’ introduced the encore, which was a welcome addition to the set, as I personally haven’t heard it live in the last half dozen times seeing the band. As the final track ‘We are the next 1000 years’ ended, the band drifted off to the wings; only to return cloaked, masked, each with their own drum as the outro closed a fantastic performance.
A thirty-minute changeover soon revealed the enormous Amon Amarth stage show. A Viking helmet formed the drum riser, and giant runes stood either side. “The Pursuit of Vikings” kicked off and the stage was on fire, literally! It was an amazing experience; huge riffing guitars, a chanting crowd, pyro like I have never seen, all against a backdrop of an ancient castle … fantastic!
By this point, the Irish fans were completely on board, and hung off every word bellowed out by frontman Johan Hegg. ‘First Kill’ proved to be a winner, and on command, the crowd were jumping to “Crack The Sky’ from the band’s latest album ‘Beserker.’
Amon Amarth proved to be a worthy headliner to this iconic show as the tracks continued to rumble through the castle grounds. ‘Legend of a Banished Man’ was a highlight, and the chanting ‘Shield Wall’ continued to keep the fans enthralled. The theatrics of Viking Beserkers battling on stage, even more pyro as the runes caught fire, and finally, a huge dragon entering from stage right showed this was a full-on Amon Amarth show! ‘Raven’s Flight’ and ‘Raise your Horns’ were next before the 90 min set climaxed with ‘Twilight of the Thunder God,’ under a rain of sparkles and explosions.
The show was an amazing experience, and it was a privilege to be there. Credit to all involved in making the event happen, and I hope it’s not the last time we see extreme metal in such a setting.
Review & Photography: Kerri Clarke
Exposing Shadows Photography // https://www.facebook.com/exposingshadows/