Posted by: Staff | 10.24.2008

Death Metal (or, That Elf-Viking Rocks a Mean Faux-Hawk)

CONNOR MADIGAN ’11

If you have ever wondered what a death metal concert looks like, wonder no more.

Picture four or five men bellowing unintelligible words into deafening sound systems. I had no idea what to expect when my cousin Curtis asked me to go. He explained something about death metal: most of the people in the genre have either been to prison or an asylum. My cousin, only slightly younger than me, smiled as if this was a good thing.

I came to learn that most death metal bands are from the Netherlands because the lack of sun plays tricks with the musicians’ minds. For this reason Curtis had begun to learn Norwegian when not trying to convince his parents to let him grow his hair or dye it black. I had watched Curtis change from a hyperactive child to thinking he was the greatest ‘gangsta’ rapper ever born. He has now accepted that he is the stereotypical white kid , but he insists on being the weirdest white kid of all time.

“Vikings,” Curtis said. I asked what these guys were all about. He repeated it. The band was Amon Amarth, which apparently means “Mount Doom” in Sindarin, the language of the elves in J.R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

“They mostly scream about burning villages and sailing up fjords in wooden boats.” I was still hung up on what he had said before.

“Elves?” It just didn’t add up. I couldn’t help imagining the Keebler elves frolicking in a field of daisies, then getting on stage to sing about Vikings.

“Oh, yeah. And Connor, they dress up in leather armor and helmets, with battle axes and sometimes swords.” At this point I grew reflective, wondering about the mess I have gotten myself into.

The theater was the Palladium in Worcester. Beyond that, the details are hard to pick out. The crowd was one big mosh pit, something designed for the participants to inflict as much damage as possible to the people surrounding them, and we were swept away in it. The lyrics were either incomprehensible or violent and psychotic. I just went with it, knowing there was no escape for me. At the end of the night I walked away with more bruises then an old peach, but I loved every minute of it anyway.

Amon Amarth is playing again at the Palladium, along with Ensiferum, Belphegor, and The Absence. I will be there. Curtis is coming as well, going to show off the beard he’s been growing; if he only had a tattoo of a skull and a criminal record, he would be perfect on stage. If there is a moral to this story it is this: try to give the abnormal things in life a chance and never, under any circumstances, go clothes shopping with a Viking.

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