The wind in Laval was blowing hard. Seriously hard, walking up to Place Bell, I had to help a diminutive woman because the wind was blowing her backwards on the sidewalk. The kind of weather you love to set sail in if you’re going raiding. By the looks of the crowd when I got in, I’d located the raiding party. If you’ve got a beard fetish, this was the right place for you.
But let us start with the show. First up on the list of openers with illegible font backgrounds was Cattle Decapitation. This band’s sound is what I picture when I see Nekrogoblikon. This band, full of, ironically, vegetarians, is full of surprises. It was early, but the crowd was still here in big numbers and rocking out.
Metal veterans Obituary were up next. This is a band I’ve seen a few times in a festival setting; remember Heavy MTL? I must say that the arena setting is much better for them. They had a huge sound and came across flawlessly, really filling the room.
After we’ve decapitated the cattle, read its obituary, it’s time to deal with the Carcass. I’m a dad, I’m allowed to make these jokes.
Carcass was loud. They screamed a lot. The crowd screamed a lot. Good times were had by all. These guys have been doing it since 1986, they know how to deliver, and this night was no different. The mosh pit started kicking into high gear.
And then it was time. Runes were projected onto a black curtain as the violins of “Intro” played. That’s actually the name of the song; confusing, I know. As the curtain dropped, the scene revealed a giant Thor and Loki on either side of the stage, the drum was set up atop a giant Viking war helmet with flaming eyes, and there were enough fire columns, I’m sure it was visible from Valhalla. As Amon Amarth ripped into “Guardians of Asgaard,” the floor went ballistic. During the chants, fists were pumping in unison.
After the song, they took a breath and said hello, pumping the crowd up. It seemed that they were readying them for war. Before “The Great Heathen Army,” they asked who was joining on the raid. Now, if you’re trying to raise a marauding horde to pillage Anglo-Saxons, Laval is definitely a great place to start. I saw people beating their chests to the rhythm and screaming at the sky.
As much as this band is a lot of bravado and theatre, they also know how to have fun. Frontman Johan Hegg always has a smile, is great with the crowd and genuinely made me laugh as he’s doing a rowing dance during “Put Your Back Into the Oar.” The theatre also takes a turn for the comical as a guy in a Loki suit taunts the crowd for “Deceiver of the Gods,” and we got intermittent battles on stage that had very little choreography.
By the time we got to the encore, the epic “Twilight of the Thunder God,” the crowd were officially Vikings. Their drinking horns were empty, and they seemed ripe for a raid. I checked the news the next day for any mention of the pillaging of Laval, but there was nothing, so I assume the raid never materialized.
And just a note to Amon Amarth, if you like money, put drinking horns in your merch booth!
Review – Richard Brunette
Photos – Kieron Yates