Amon Amarth / Finntroll / Octavia Sperati
18 April 2007
Islington Academy, London

I hadn`t realised Octavia Sperati had been added to the bill until earlier in the day and having never heard them before I approached them with an open mind. The Norwegian six piece consist of five ladies and one man, though you might not know about him as he seems to be missing from the bands promo shots and was in darkness through the band`s set. Obviously the band seem to want to push the girl band angle. This is all very well but for the fact that they are as boring as hell. There`s little on stage movement and the songs are dreary uninspiring gothic metal. A really odd fit on tonight`s bill, my lasting thought was that I should have stayed for one more in the pub beforehand.

Octavia Sperati set list:
Lifelines Of Depths / Icebound / …And Then The World Froze / Moonlit / Guilty I Am

Finntroll led the charge of Finnish folk influenced metal with Ensiferum and Turisas following in their wake. Catching the band live for the first time at Sweden Rock in 2003, their boisterous performance was one of the highlights of the weekend. Things have changed since then, with vocalist Wilska ousted from the band to be replaced by the rather un-troll like skinny Vreth. Sensing perhaps and end to the shelf life of umpah-metal, new album Ur Jordens Djup ploughs a darker path. This seems to have carried over into the band`s live performance, with a much more serious vibe, sucking much of the fun out of proceedings.

Where Wilska bounded around the stage, Vreth stays stuck firm to centre spot, with the band hardly mobile around him. At the back on the keyboards, Trollhorn frankly looked bored. It didn`t help that for much of the set the soundman neglected to turn up the guitars, hence we`re confronted by an overriding clatter of drums. Vreth tried to get the crowd chanting during opener Sång, but it`s when the umpah is restored for Korpens Saga that he gets a response.

Tellingly, the place goes nuts when Trollhammaren is dragged out, but the band on stage no longer portray the attitude of the shambolic video for this song. Elsewhere the crowd response was muted, especially compared to the band that followed. Having seen blistering sets from Finntroll`s contemporaries, Turisas and Ensiferum this year, Finntroll appear to have been left behind.

Finntroll set list:
Gryning (intro) / Sång / Korpens Saga / Jaktens Tid / Fiskarens Fiende / Kitteldags / Ormhäxan / Nattfödd / Blodnatt / Nedgång / Trollhammaren / Slaget Vid Blodsälv / Svartberg / En Mäktig Här / Det Iskalla Trollblodet / Försvinn Du Som Lyser / Segersång

Amon Amarth gigs seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment and the band never disappoint. As the band`s intro tape ends the familiar drums of Fredrik Andersson sound and the band are off to battle with Valhall Awaits Me. I`ve raved about Andersson`s drumming before and that won`t change here. His use of tom`s and fills is so distinctive that if the guitars were taken away you could probably still recognise which song he was playing. This is fortunate as the sound man is up to tricks again with the guitar levels and it takes a few songs before things even out.

Runes To My Memory follows with Johan Hegg announcing at it`s conclusion that it was good to be back in London and we`re we ready for some metal? Of course we were and Death In Fire flattens any doubters. From here on it`s a relentless assault. As ever, the band line up like a battle ready frontline with constant flailing blonde hair, and beards in Hegg`s case. Amon Amarth`s roadwork must be punishing, but it pays off as this well oiled machine fires out Asator and crushes with The Sound Of Eight Hooves.

With a few teaks to the setlist, this performance differs little to the band`s visit last November. It`s brutal, to the point and unyielding, with Amon Amarth seemingly holding the crowd in their palm. The band`s consistency is a key strength and has won over many a convert in the live environment. Fittingly a Victorious March leads us to the brink, with this crowd won over and bound to continue to be In Pursuit Of Vikings.

Amon Amarth set list:
Intro / Valhall Awaits Me / Runes to My Memory / Death in Fire / With Odin on Our Side / Asator / The Sound of Eight Hooves / Bleed for Ancient Gods / The Fate of Norns / Where Silent Gods Stand Guard / An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm / Cry of the Blackbirds / Victorious March / In Pursuit of Vikings

Amon Amarth
Octavia Sperati