Courtesy: Metal Blade Records
Over the course of the past 25 years, veteran metal band Amon Amarth has become one of the most respected and unique bands in the metal community. That is because of its music and its live performances. From its debut 1996 EP Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds to its most recent full-length studio recording, 2016’s Jomsviking, the band has stuck to what it knows, writing songs about Vikings. It’s not the only band that rose to fame in taking this path, but has become even more famous than its contemporaries in taking that path. The band’s live shows have been just as key in making the band so well-known and respected, as they have included the standard Viking ship on stage, and at times, even Viking battle re-enactments. Of course while the band has become one of the metal community preeminent acts today, its road to worldwide stardom was not the easiest. That story is presented in the documentary included in the band’s forthcoming documentary/live recording package, The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm, and it is a story that is certain to create a new appreciation for the band. It is just one part of what the package – set for release Nov. 16 via Metal Blade Records – that makes it a worthwhile addition to any Amon Amarth fan’s collection. The live material included in the package is just as important to note as the documentary. It will be discussed a little later. Its pricing rounds out its most important elements, and will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm. All things considered, they make the recording a collection that, again, will appeal especially to the band’s most devoted fan base.
Amon Amarth’s forthcoming documentary/live bundle The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm is a strong new offering from the veteran metal outfit. It is a work that is certain to appeal to the band’s most devout fan base, and even to new audiences who might be less familiar to the band. That is due in no small part to the documentary included in the bundle. The doc, which clocks in sans end credits at a little more than 90 minutes (1 hour, 39 minutes to be exact), serves as an interesting introduction to the band for those noted new audiences, and an equally welcome re-introduction to the band’s more seasoned fans. It takes audiences from the band’s earliest days, struggling to balance their blue-collar lives with trying to make it in the music business to its current state atop the metal community. That back story in itself is a sort of rags to riches story, so to speak because it presents the band as a group that worked its way to the top. It was not given the world. It had to work to earn it. The band’s fron man, Johan Hegg, discusses that work ethic at one point late in the documentary, explaining the clear role that it has played in the band’s success. Along with that, some audiences might be surprised to learn that there was a chance early on in the band’s career that it might not even have been around if not for the success of one record. That story will be saved for those who have not yet had the pleasure of taking in this retrospective. It is another one of those anecdotes that adds to the appreciation that the doc presents. As if everything noted here is not enough, audiences will be just as interested to take in the discussions on the band’s decision to go forward with focusing so much on Viking mythology in its albums despite the apparent belief of some that it has to certain groups. There is an equally interesting discussion that goes along with that talk, in which the band talks frankly about steering away from the standard death metal fare, and why it opted not to go that route. That discussion is one of the most powerful, as brief as it might be. It joins with everything else presented over the course of the documentary’s run to make this story one that is certain to make audiences new and old see Amon Amarth in a whole new and certainly positive light. To that end, the documentary featured in this new presentation is a strong addition to the whole of the presentation, and is not the only positive to the set. The live material included in the set adds even more enjoyment to the package.
The live material featured in The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm is so important because of everything that goes into that presentation, from the set lists to the band’s performance thereof and the production values. The two set lists – taken from the band’s Aug. 16 & 17 Summer Breeze Festival performance – pull songs from nine of the band’s current 10 albums. In other words, it is safe to say that this is a career-spanning two-night performance. The only album not represented in the recording is the band’s 2001 album The Crusher. The band’s debut 1996 EP Sorrow Through The Nine Worlds also is not included in the set list, but the band can easily be forgiven for that. Over the course of the 30-song set, the band pulls most liberally from its 2006 album With Oden on Our Side and its follow-up, 2008’s Twilight of the Thunder God, with each album getting six nods. Jomsviking is next with five songs, and then Versus The World (2002) with four, Deceiver of the Gods (2013) with three, Surtur Rising (2011) and Fate of Norns (2014) with two each and then The Avenger (1999) and Once Sent From The Golden Hall (1998) each with just one song representing them respectively. To say that the set list is extensive would be an understatement. As with the documentary, such an extensive set list serves as a solid representation of Amon Amarth’s career to this point. Simply put, this makes the set list another excellent introduction to the band for fans less familiar with the band’s work and an equally welcome presentation for those more seasoned audiences.
The extensive set list featured in the band’s Summer Breeze 2017 performance is just part of what makes that performance welcome. The band’s performance thereof adds even more of a positive touch to the recording. From start to finish, the band gives its all for its audiences on both nights of the festival, letting the music do the majority of the talking. It serves to display that work ethic that Hegg talked about in the documentary, making for even more appreciation for the band. The same can be said of Hegg’s interactions with the audience between songs. From the casual discussion about the band donating its now famous on-stage Viking boat to Hegg’s encouragement of the audience to do its own “Viking row” to the general mid-performance banter, Hegg proves to be an entertaining front man. His band mates meanwhile do just as much to entertain audiences throughout each song, that they are giving 110 percent and more. It’s just one more way in which the live material stands out so strongly here.
The recording’s production values are just as worth noting in examining the recording as the band’s performance and the recording’s set list. The work that went into balancing the sound and capturing the concert both during and in post production paid off, giving audiences at home the best seat in the house. The sound is everything that a home viewer should expect from audio mixing while the camera work offers its own entertainment. Audiences are taken on stage, into the crowd and high above throughout. What’s interesting to note here is that the shooting actually at times has a little bit of a guerilla look. Luckily that feeling is not overpowering at any given moment. Rather, it is just enough that when coupled with the more spit-shined shots, the combination of those clearer and more raw shots makes for its own interesting experience. The end result of the attention paid to every detail makes this performance just as enjoyable for its production work as for the set list and the band’s performance. In other words, everyone behind the boards and cameras is fully deserving of praise for their work. That effort and time was well worth it. Now keeping all of this in mind, the last important element of this set to note is its pricing.
Looking through the nation’s biggest retailers – Target, Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart — finding this new recording was a bit of a craps shoot. That is both because The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm is available on so many platforms and because right now, some of the retailers do not have it listed. Target has the vinyl presentation listed while Best Buy has three of its separate platforms listed at coordinated prices. The problem is that Best Buy’s listings do not specify which price is with which platform. Walmart does not even list the recording, and Amazon lists the pricing for the CD/2 DVD and Blu-ray platforms. Of course, Metal Blade lists each of the platforms and their respective prices. Keeping all of this in mind, and that most people will likely buy either the Blu-ray or CD/2DVD set, finding an average price point at the time of this posting is next to impossible. However, comparing Amazon’s current pricing to that of Metal Blade, it can be said that even with shipping, fans will find it less expensive to purchase the Blu-ray and the CD/2DVD set direct from Metal Blade’s official store. That is always open to change, of course, but for now Metal Blade’s official store is offering a more affordable price for each platform, even with shipping & handling. When this is considered along with everything else noted here, it goes without saying that The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm is a relatively affordable presentation that audiences new and old alike will happily welcome in their own music libraries.
Amon Amarth’s forthcoming documentary/live recording bundle The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm is a strong new offering from the veteran Swedish metal band. It is a presentation that is certain to appeal to the band’s most seasoned fans just as much as it will to those less familiar with the band and its body of work. That is proven in part through the extensive documentary that takes audiences through the band’s story from its earliest days pre-Amon Amarth up to its current point. It paints a rich picture of the band’s past, present and future. The equally extensive 30-song set does just as much to illustrate the band’s history. The whole thing proves relatively affordable especially considering the amount and type of content presented in the Blu-ray platform. Keeping all of this in mind, it can be said with ease that The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm is a work whose appeal is far-reaching, and in turn proves to be one of this year’s top new live Blu-rays and DVDs. It will be available Nov. 16 via Metal Blade Records, and can be pre-ordered now via Metal Blade’s online store. More information on The Pursuit of Vikings: 25 Years in the Eye of the Storm is available now online along with all of Amon Amarth’s latest news and more at:
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