Raindrops fell lightly upon the passionate souls gathered at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville last week as two legends of metal, Ghost and Amon Amarth rolled into the music city. I for one was overjoyed that it was raining as the past few days had been overwhelmingly hot and only the people in facepaint seemed worried that the clouds didn’t look promising.
As the heavens wept, these two bands delivered a show that left the audience awe-struck and drenched in the magic of metal.
Amon Amarth took the stage first as the blaring horns of the viking echoed across Ascend. The stage was decorated with a massive viking helmet and a giant sea inflatable sea serpent. With their signature melodic death metal sound and Viking-inspired imagery, Amon Amarth brought the spirit of Norse mythology to life in Nashville.
Johan Hegg’s guttural growls and commanding stage presence were nothing short of mesmerizing, as he led the charge in songs like “Twilight of the Thunder God” and “Guardians of Asgaard.” The band’s synchronized head banging and the backdrop of stormy seas and Viking battles on the stage’s LED screens added to the immersive experience. At one point they had actors join the band on stage and a full blown sword fight took place. If you appreciate live shows with a lot of theatrics I highly recommend attending an Amon Amarth show.
This would be my second time seeing Ghost and one of the things they are known for is their elaborate stage designs and over the top black mass type performances. The photographers in the pit were actually held back for a few minutes so that a giant curtain could fall and explosives could be discharged without anyone being in the way. I found myself head banging more than taking photos during the first three songs which is a testament to how mesmerizing this band truly is. For all the criticism that this band sometimes receives from “metal purists”, I don’t think I have ever been as captivated during a set. You just can’t help but focus all of your attention into the visual masterpiece unfolding before you while they perform. The biggest downside of the night came immediately after the photographers had finished shooting the first three songs. We were all informed that we would have to walk our gear back to our cars before we could re-enter the venue. This was incredibly disheartening because the 15-minute walk to the parking lot caused all of us to miss a good 30-minutes of the set.
Highlights from Ghost’s set included the anthemic “Rats,” which had the audience chanting along in unison, and the hauntingly beautiful “He Is”, which showcased the versatility of the band’s musicianship. The rain seemed to enhance the experience, adding an extra layer of mystique to Ghost’s enigmatic presence. The highlight of the night came when the original singer of Ghost, Papa Nihil was brought out in a glass casket and given CPR on stage. When he awoke he broke into a killer saxophone solo and the crowd went absolutely nuts. Papa Emeritus IV took a few moments before the encore to talk about his appreciation for Nashville and his time recording the first Ghost albums there.
I had no idea the band had such a connection to the music city.
Overall it was an amazing night of music and for me, Ghost continued to cement their place as one of the greatest bands in music. Next time I will just have to remember to park closer so that I won’t miss as much.