Enslaved (more by Greg Cristman)


The first thing I did when I woke up Monday morning was check my email. The second thing I did was check my calendar to make sure I hadn't slept in a time-tunnel straight to 2007, because the first email I read announced a tour headlined by Amon Amarth with support from Enslaved and Skeletonwitch.

In 2007, this would have been the tour of the year. Amon Amarth, fresh off the triumph of their career high water mark, With Oden On Our Side, presiding over a bill filled out by an Enslaved in the midst of their transformation from black metal to Viking-prog, plus a hungry and — try hard to remember this — buzzy Skeletonwitch. You can probably picture the Decibel cover that might have been — Johan Hegg, Grutle and Chance Garnette mean-muggin', all beards and teeth and size-72-font announcing the impending Viking plunder. The shows, it should go without saying, would have ruled.

But this is not 2007. It's 2013, and those dudes have had more to drink and less to say every year in the interim. By the time the shows start in early 2014, Amon Amarth's sets will consist of two albums' worth of bland melodeath plod, peppered with key tracks from before the unfortunate turning point of Surtur Rising. Enslaved will likely play for 40 minutes, which is enough time to get through, oh, three of their recent bloated Pink Floyd-esque numbers. Skeletonwitch will open the shows as veterans, imploring audiences to drink beer, smoke weed and eat pussy like they have every night for the past decade. (It is worth noting that the band's new record, Serpents Unleashed, is apparently their best; I haven't heard it yet.)

I'm sure many of these dates will sell out. These three bands are impervious to metal's ever-shifting zeitgeist, and their fanbases have supported them through plenty of tumult. Perhaps this tour signifies that the idea of relevance has long been a completely beside-the-point construct for metal bands. A show featuring Amon Amarth, Enslaved and Skeletonwitch is supposed to hit people the same exact way whether it's 2014 or 2007 or, for that matter, 2025 — provided none of their members die in a raid before then. Ever the consummate showmen, Hegg, Grutle and Garnette will deliver the experiences that their fans expect of them.

For me, though, this type of bill veers a bit too close to serving up unearned nostalgia at premium prices. As someone who doesn't dig the newer material by these acts, the heyday of "Runes to My Memory," "Fusion of Sense and Earth," and "Upon Wings of Black" dominating the satellite radio waves doesn't feel far enough in the rearview mirror to justify shelling out the inevitable $40 per ticket before beer and merch. I know, too, that my abstinence won't make these shows any less perfect to the people who choose to go. C'est la vie.

What do you think of this tour? Manufactured nostalgia or fuck-you funtime? Let us know in the comments.

— Brad Sanders


Full dates

Friday, January 17 – Las Vegas, NV @ House Of Blues
Saturday, January 18 – Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red
Monday, January 20 – San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live
Tuesday, January 21 – Dallas, TX @ House Of Blues
Wednesday, January 22 – Houston, TX @ House Of Blues
Friday, January 24 – Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage
Saturday, January 25 – Tampa, FL @ The Ritz
Sunday, January 26 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution

Monday, January 27 – Orlando, FL @ House Of Blues (*no Skeletonwitch)
Wednesday, January 29 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
Thursday, January 30 – Norfolk, VA @ The NorVA
Friday, January 31 – Silver Springs, MD @ The Fillmore
Saturday, February 1 – Boston, MA @ House Of Blues

Monday, February 3 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA
Tuesday, February 4 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
Wednesday, February 5 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
Friday, February 7 – Chicago, IL @ House Of Blues

Saturday, February 8 – Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights

Sunday, February 9 – Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre

Tuesday, February 11 – Denver, CO @ Summit Theatre

Wednesday, February 12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Murray Theater

Friday, February 14 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency

Saturday, February 15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern

Sunday, February 16 – San Diego, CA @ House Of Blues (* No Enslaved)