Many metal acts have graced the stage at Pensacola’s Vinyl Music Hall, but none have had quite the impact that Amon Amarth and Goatwhore delivered to our many local metalheads. Since 2012, I have seen just about every metal act that has rolled through the venue—Killswitch Engage, the Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse, and the mighty Gwar. These bands have graced us with immensely powerful shows time and time again.
But I was completely overwhelmed by Amon Amarth and Goatwhore. This was the first sold out metal show I have ever seen at the Vinyl Music Hall, and it was on a Monday.
Once I walked in through those doors, a familiar feeling hit me, something that was missing for a while. It was a sense of community that surrounded me, an energy that is unmistakable. I frequent many concerts in the area, but nothing feels more like home than a metal show.
Known for being at the forefront of the blackened death metal subgenre, New Orleans’ Goatwhore has developed a cult following, bringing with them a unique sound that many bands today still try to emulate, including lyrical topics such as the occult, Satanism, witchcraft, and Armageddon. Presenting many of their best songs—“Apocalyptic Havoc,” “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed,” “Unraveling Paradise,” and “FBS”—Goatwhore’s sheer power was an amazing feat to witness. I was especially impressed with touring bassist Rob Coleman, who provided much interaction with the audience.
On drums, Zack Simmons demonstrated some very groovy rhythms alongside the traditional heavy, blasting drums that are signature to black metal and death metal. Louis Benjamin Falgoust II’s voice was impeccable, with growls and harsh screams reminiscent of a wild animal on the hunt. After some onstage shenanigans between Louis and lead guitarist (and absolute riff lord) Sammy Duet, Goatwhore unleashed a brand new song (“Vengeful Ascension”) and album announcement on us.
The anticipation I had for Amon Amarth was intense. I was engaged in total fanboy mode for a band that I had been following for almost 10 years. Known for their amazing lead guitar, crushing basslines, pulse-pounding drumming, and amazing lyricism (Norse mythology and legends), it was easy to see why this band became a favorite among metal fans. It’s because they’re actual Vikings.
With my mjolnir amulet around my neck, I was ecstatic and extremely exhausted. Up until that point, I was in the mosh pit with my fellow metalheads. I thought I was about to throw in the towel for the night and just enjoy the show like a responsible adult, but all of that was thrown away once Amon Amarth began took the stage. I was yelling and chanting for a band that I had admired since childhood.
The Stockholm band opened with a fan favorite, “The Pursuit of Vikings,” and the entire place erupted. More moshing broke out, everyone is jumped to the music, and we were all pushed toward the front in a massive rush to the stage. The setlist contained Amon Amarth’s best-known songs, including “Cry of the Blackbirds,” “Guardians of Asgaard,” “Free Will Sacrifice,” “War of the Gods,” “Destroyer of the Universe,” “Father of the Wolf,” “The Way of Vikings,” “Raise Your Horns” and “Death in Fire.”
Johan Hegg stood tall among his band of Vikings, delivering some of the most brutal vocals known to the metal world, demanding us to release our inner berserker. Jocke Wallgren, the band’s drummer and newest member, performed all of the driving, pounding percussion rhythms to absolute perfection. He also showed us his technical prowess behind the kit during a blistering drum solo, which is something more concerts need.
Guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg were incredible masters of shreddings, whether it was through heavy riffage or monstrous solos and dual harmonies. On bass, Ted Lundström provided the growly low-end carnage needed to seal together the sounds for one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.
Once the show was finished, the crowd began to chant for one more song. Any fan of this band knew that there was one song missing from the set, and forgetting it would be a complete travesty. Post-tease, Amon Amarth marched back on stage and played their breakout song “Twilight of the Thunder God,” an epic ode to Thor.
The concert was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
– Marcus DeGagne
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