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Amon Amarth, the undisputed lords of Viking Death Metal, had there eyes set on Portland as their next target while promoting their latest album, Berzerker at the iconic Roseland Theatre. Along their conquest of North America they were joined by Arch Enemy, the famed Progressive, Melodic cross-over and At the Gates, the godfathers of Gothenberg-style Melodic Death Metal.

Carrying the torch of traditional heavy metal, Grand Magus, opened up the Berserker World Tour in support. A tried and true metal act that had every one of the faithful raise their fists in the air. When every voice in a sold out venue screams "IRON WILL" in unison there's no way to remain silent.

As the night continued on, we were moments away from witnessing the reformed Melodic Death Metal legends, At the Gates. They opened with their latest burnt offering, "To Drink of the Night Itself," the title track off the album of the same name. Tomas Lindberg, considered by many as the unrivaled voice of melodic death metal, let out a ear piercing, "GO!" and unleashed the song, "Slaughter of the Soul," off their highly influential album of the same name. I could no longer just be a spectator to the chaos. I left my camera with a god sent soul at bag check and sprinted full speed into the swirling mass of flailing bodies that made up the mosh pit. Within seconds I found myself arm and arm with my brothers and sisters in metal, headbanging in unison at the alter of our heroes. They closed with "The Night Eternal," a melancholic tempest of sadness that ends with a melody that feels as if you were being led by Virgil hand in hand, forever downward into Hell itself.

But the night had just begun and Arch Enemy, the all-stars of Progressive Death Metal made their way to the stage. Wasting no time, they broke right into "The World is Yours," a song off their album Will to Power, a challenge to walk your own path toward ultimate power. The charismatic, Alissa White-Gluz, Arch Enemy's vocalist, held an ever deviant fist in the air, echoing the shade of blue in her fierce hair. The highlight for myself was being face-to-face with one of the greatest modern-day progressive metal guitarists of our day, Jeff Loomis. I found it hard to not smile ear-to-ear watching Loomis and bassist, Sharlee D'Angelo compliment each other so well on stage. Arch Enemy rounded out their set with "Nemesis," a song off their groundbreaking album, Doomsday Machine, originally sung by former vocalist, Angela Gossow. Arch Enemy's performance destroyed all expectation and was a perfect inclusion before the Viking horde took the stage.

Amon Amarth; massive, epic, victorious, stood in all their Viking glory revealing a massive war helmet with eyes of fire, which towered before the audience. The lords of Melodic Viking Death Metal have been on a steady rise in popularity since their first studio album, Once Sent from the Golden Hall, debuted back in 1998. In celebration of their latest release, Berserker, Amon Amarth began the night with their single, "Raven's Flight." The song tore through their legion of followers on darkened wings throughout the sold out venue. Johan Hegg, the band's gauntlet wearing, warrior king, led his band of Vikings through songs that echoed their latest ensemble of albums from the last decade from Jomsviking to 2006's With Oden On Our Side.

Unwilling to stand on the sidelines, I once again left my camera with a friend and ran into battle with my brothers and sisters in the pit. Metal crashed and the sound of battle rang out from the stage as two iron-clad warriors appeared with swords in hand warring for victory to the song, "The Way of Vikings." The scene in the mosh pit mirrored the same aggression on stage as fists were raised, blood was spilt; but as friends, not as enemies. Amon Amarth led the audience through a world of gods, monsters, and battles long since past through the power of Swedish Death Metal. Johan Hegg grasped his drinking horn in a clenched fist and commanded the audience to raise their horns to the sky along with him and praise Odin for this glorious night.

Flags of blue and gold were soaring high at Roseland Theatre. And with Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, At the Gates and Grand Magus leading the charge, these veterans of Swedish Metal are a force ready to set the world ablaze. The Berserker World Tour is storming venues across the U.S. Let nothing stop you from charging headfirst into battle.

Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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