The Great Heathen Army Tour marched through Cincinnati and Amon Amarth set the town ablaze.
Metal masters Amon Amarth have been chasing the peasants away for thirty years. They are presently on tour in support of The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade) record that came out earlier this year, and they brought along Cattle Decapitation, Obituary, and Carcass for the ride.
On their stop in Cincinnati, Ohio, they performed at the Andrew J. Brady Music Center. The venue is located immediately beside the Paycor Stadium where the Bengals play, and next to Smale Riverfront Park along the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. The Brady Center opened last year and has become a regular stop in the Midwest for heavy metal bands. The stated capacity for the center is 4,500, and it has a main floor (standing) and two large balconies. It is a great place for heavy metal shows, and all the seats and standing areas have excellent views of the stage. It is quickly becoming the go-to venue for bigger metal acts that pass through the city.
The first band on the card was San Diego’s Cattle Decapitation. They have been on my radar for years and their album Death Atlas (Metal Blade)still boggles my mind. I hadn’t seen them perform since 2019 at Heavy Montreal, so I was really looking forward to their set – in fact, they are the main reason I went to the show. They did not disappoint. Playing mainly songs from Death Atlas, they opened with “The Geocide” then “Vulturous.” The crowd disappeared into the thunderous riffs, immediately and continuously entranced. The band ended their tight six on “Bring Back The Plague.” I would have been happy to stand and hear more, but then brevity creates a fond memory and the short hard crack was a great way to start the night.
Next up was Obituary, the iconic death metal band from Florida. They have been around since the 1980s, and have created an incredible canon of music, beginning with Slowly We Rot. Obituary has a new album coming out next year, Dying Of Everything, but they stuck mostly to fan favorites for their set, including “Redneck Stomp,” “I Don’t Care,” and “I’m In Pain.” They did play one new song off that upcoming album, and also gave the crowd a tasty rendition of a Celtic Frost classic. Good show all around.
Carcass was on the bill as well, but they were in a media blackout for some reason. Photographers were sequestered during their set, so I don’t have anything to say about it. Ghost Cult Magazine did cover a Carcass show earlier in the year, so if you have a yearning to fill in the blanks, you can search the site for that article.
Sweden’s Amon Amarth is the first band that springs to mind when I think of Viking metal, although they prefer that their music be described as melodic death metal, which it is. Still, given the nature of their compositions and the subjects of the lyrics, Viking metal can’t be far off. Amon Amarth is also the first band that pops into my mind when I think of epic metal, or heroic metal, for that matter, probably because there is at least a peripheral fit and the music they make is so memorable. We all have our favorites in these veins, sure, but I don’t think I’ll get much argument when I say that Amon Amarth is among the most resilient, recognizable, and best metal bands in action.
Amon Amarth adopted their current name in 1994, and released their inaugural album as such in 1998, Once Sent from the Golden Hall. This very first album is solid, I would argue, and since then the band has honed and refined their craft to a level that is unassailable. Bassist, Ted Lundström, guitarist Olavi Mikkonen, and vocalist Johan Hegg have been with the band since the beginning, and they are only getting better with time. They are touring their twelfth album, The Great Heathen Army, and everything about the show is impressive.
The stage set brings a gasp when first you see it. Two mighty statues stand on either side of the stage and an enormous horned crown is at the center. Capable of erupting smoke and fire, the stage is visited by Loki and others during the show to enhance the experience and engage the crowd. Amon Amarth played for well over an hour, opening with the everlasting “Guardians of Asgaard.” They did play a couple of songs from the newest album, including “The Great Heathen Army” and “Get in the Ring,” both of which the crowd seemed to know and appreciate. The biggest moments for fans song-wise came from “Put Your Back Into the Oar,” which gave everyone a chance to work out a little, and the drinking anthem “Raise Your Horns.” And, of course, the show would not have been complete without the closer, “Twilight of the Thunder God.”
Amon Amarth continues the tour North America through mid-December, wrapping up on the west coast. They head abroad to bang heads with people far and wide next year, so catch them if you can now because it is a fantastic show with high production values operating at a level you just don’t get to see every day.
Buy Amon Amarth music and merch:
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY WAYNE EDWARDS