In the true spirit of showing metal is indeed international tonight sees Sweden’s Amon Amarth and the UK’s Savage Messiah form the European bread around the meat that is the USA’s Huntress. All of this tasty treat is being served up in Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms tucked around the back of its famous big brother, Rock City. Even on a cold and damp Monday night Amon Amarth and co have sold out this compact but perfectly formed venue.
First up are London-based Savage Messiah who have a brief thirty minutes to impress an already well packed venue. They don’t disappoint. Big riffs, octopus drumming and a prominent bass add up to one of the best early opening acts I’ve seen in a long while. It’s interesting that Savage Messiah capture the essence of heavy metal but have brought it right up to date without the need for gimmicks. Tonight in thirty short minutes we’ve heard proof that authentic metal still beats with a heart of steel.
Huntress are no slouches when it comes to horn throwing credibility either. Twin guitars sing like blackened angels while the engine room of bass and drums kicks out unearthly rhythms. Up front the focus is on Jill Janus and her quite unique voice. You can hear the classical training in the notes and how she controls the vocal delivery. It’s the blending in of witchy cackles that gets the hair standing on the back of the neck though, that’s something very special to hear in the flesh. Huntress might still be fairly low on many people’s music radar in the UK but they’re sending out the kind of shock waves that are seismic. Ignore them at your peril.
Johan Hegg had to take the unprecedented step of pulling out of a gig a couple of nights prior to this one after losing his voice. The band to their credit played a makeshift gig with Hegg and Huntress’ Jill Janus forming a hammer waving vocal alliance between insrumentals. Tonight there’s no sign of the Swedish frontman’s temporary loss of power, he and his band are magnificent. Even a slightly muted sound can’t diminish just how good Amon Amarth are. They are egged on by a fantastically volatile Nottingham crowd in the perfect symbiotic band /fan relationship. The so-called Viking metal has a kind of earthy honesty to it which sweeps even the most immovable of bystanders off their feet and dumps them at the finale in a sweaty heap. It’s been a great performance from the affable Swedes, one that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Shoe-horning a formidable line up into a moderately sized venue on an unpopular night of the week can often lead to all sorts of issues. A poor turn out can embarrass, an over zealous crowd can lead to safety issues. Tonight has been perfect with the sell out audience playing their part by being well up for it without going over the top and ruining something special. The bands gave it their all with some members mixing happily with fans post gig.
This has been one of those nights that will be cherished by many for a very long time. Lets hope we get to see plenty more in the future.