Photos & Words by Alan Snodgrass
Swedish death metal vikings are on the road supporting their latest release, Berserker, joined by countrymen (with a few band member exceptions) At The Gates, Arch Enemy, and Grand Magus. This past Friday night found the Swedes in front of a packed house at San Francisco’s historic Warfield.
The evening kicked off early with Grand Magus’ first ever show in San Francisco. The general admission floor was already packed, and the room was clearly pumped for the trio’s brief but raucous set. A brief set change kept the momentum going with a raging string of songs by At the Gates, in spite of the Muppet Show intro music.
Playing direct support to the might Amon Amarth is no small feat, but Arch Enemy were clearly up to the task. The San Francisco crowd has always held guitarist Jeff Loomis (formerly of Nevermore) in the highest regards, and this night was no exception, as they showed the band the utmost respect, and the the pit raged during all their songs.
A giant “Berserker” banner was draped across the front of the stage, as the crew cleared Arch Enemy’s equipment and removed the black sheets poorly disguising the giant viking helmet-shaped drum riser that had been clearly visible throughout the evening. With Iron Maiden pumping through the sound system (a little more appropriate than The Muppets), the curtain finally dropped to reveal the mighty Amon Amarth who proceeded to rip right into “Raven’s Flight” off of Berserker before the crew even had a chance to get the curtain out of the way.
Always over-the-top and never disappointing, Amon Amarth continued to pummel the San Francisco crowd. And for those who didn’t know what a Berserker looked like, they got to see one prowling the stage. But the highlight of the evening came with the encore and the truly heroic “Pursuit of Vikings” followed by the set closer, “Twilight Of The Thunder God.” Simply outstanding.