A day for Vikings, Swedes and one of the most important female-fronted Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal bands out there. Line-ups could not have gotten bigger. Giants of Metal converge with some classics and some true veterans and it could only seem like a line up to dream of. Hypocrisy go back almost 30 years and their brutality, though melodic in nature, makes for some truly respectable Metal. Though, they're certainly the least well known of the bunch. Arch Enemy, on the other hand, feel like a house hold name way back to start the new millennium of Metal. Also, smashing out the name for Female-fronted Metal in the same days that Nightwish met their height - just with a little more Death in them. However, much like Nightwish, they also have changed their leading lady since then. Amon Amarth are the absolute giants; the kind of giant that just keeps growing. The Death Metal with that viking edge just seems to keep getting more epic. So, it is on November 30th at the Brixton O2 Academy, that these big names of Metal cross paths.
The large stage and even larger venue was instantly dwarfed by Hypocrisy. The lights, cages and stage all atmospheric but all seeming too small for the powerful performance that is Hypocrisy. Technically, the lights, the music and atmospheric smoke all seemed desperate to keep up with them, but impressively, it did. All the while Hypocrisy's precision meant for a powerful and scathing performance of exciting and brutal Metal made Melodic by the expert Swedes. Hypocrisy are veterans, they power through their set far too soon. In exciting displays of guitars and the carnage of drums, it is only the vocalist that feels slightly strained in this performance. Switching from on point brutality to the efforts of a more melodic voice, which didn't quite hold up this time around. 
Arch Enemy have a very different story. On their second album since Angela Gassow left vocal duties to Alissa White-Gluz, Arch Enemy stride the stage with full confidence to dominating the stage. Fact of the matter is that they have the charisma and long standing history with the crowd to back this up. A stage that was already feeling dwarfed, somehow had gotten smaller with them. Their approach is strong but cheesy in their own way. Alissa White-Gluz particularly stalking the stage like a great lioness and playing with the mic stand like a sword. But her ferocious vocals really hits the mark. For someone so small, it rips apart the place far too easily. There is a consistency in the epic sounds and veteran playing with the bands on tonight. Each song is played with such gusto that they impress easily. Hitting out bangers such as the old classics 'Nemesis' and 'My Apocalypse' seamlessly with the more modern 'The Eagle Flies Alone'. The thing is, such perfectly performed and polished music coming out so consistently starts to become too much of a constant high power, that it loses its sense of live and raw energy – though hard to fault this either. 
On the complete other side of things are the opening of a stage to a completely different, larger and more epic side of Metal. Back to the days of the over the top rock giants with devils, fire and fireworks. Amon Amarth somehow managed to take their Death Metal and infuse it with this grand and epic sense of cheese. It is in perfect alignment with their tongue-in-cheek fun of a performance. So should we be surprised that 'Death in Fire' featured a lot of fire, flaming through the stage? 'Shield Wall' should have Vikings fighting each other? 'Twilight of the Thunder God' saw Johan attack a large inflatable Jormagandr? 'Crack the Sky' feature a hammer with fireworks to the sky? 'Guardians of Asgaard' had two giant statues grow on stage? But the most epic, should come in the achievement of inspiring the whole crowd to take up arms with them. Drinking from horns, singing songs and the all the more but all the more on point for a band like Amon Amarth. A band, known for vikings and impressively melodic and brutal Death Metal. An entire crowd singing the melodic guitar line of “Duh. Duh-duh. Duh... DUH” along to 'Pursuit of Vikings'. This is a band, who surprisingly passed their height and produced an immense amount of cheese but kept their audience with them. This is a band at their prime and having fun with it. Smashing out songs like it's a part of them. Breathing and drinking with audiences as if they're best friends. For all of it's epic and amazing performances, dialed up to 11, it is only with the length of the set that surprisingly had moments to drag, particularly in more recent songs. But Amon Amarth have so many crowd pleasers that this easily slips through the cracks. For every moment of waiting, there is 'Runes to My Memory', 'Death in Fire', 'Prediction of Warfare' and especially 'Pursuit of Vikings' “Duh. Duh-duh. Duh... DUH”