Wednesday night was a cold and unpleasant, but that didn’t deter me and about a thousand other people to go show some support for one of Finland’s finest metal bands at the Murray Theater. That’s probably because me and about a thousand other people knew that Children of Bodom can make any unpleasant Wednesday look like the greatest Saturday.---
It was clear that the lineup we were about to see wanted to celebrate the diversity of metal styles with quality as a starting point. Tyr was in charge of opening the night and they were a good example of this diversity. From the Faroe Islands, Tyr plays metal anthems based on old folk songs from the countries around the North Sea, some sung in their original languages, some in English. Hymns like “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” or “Blood of Heroes” were proudly chanted by the crowd as fists pumped up in the air and the band left the stage while the crowd asked for “one more song!”
San Francisco’s Death Angel showed us since their first song what they were all about: “Left for Dead” blasted through the speakers as the band took the stage with an energy and intensity that few could resist, turning the place into a fierce mosh pit. The band started in 1982 as part of the Bay Area thrash scene, and after a 10-year hiatus resumed their career in 2001 after the Thrash of the Titans reunion show. They proved they still got it and delivered a memorable show that featured songs from their most recent album, The Dream Calls for Blood. When the band played the song that gives its name to the album, frontman Mark Osegueda spoke candidly about following your dreams and nobody else’s, and the audience absorbed and returned the good energy.
Next up was Alexi Laiho’s Children of Bodom, and Utah’s “Hate Crew”—as the band calls their fans—was ready. When you go to see a band that’s named after a lake in which kids were killed and has the Grim Reaper on most of its album covers, with album titles like Hatebreeder and Halo of Blood, the last thing you’d expect is for the show to be fun. However, that’s exactly the feeling that came from the stage.
A show by Children of Bodom is like riding a motorcycle: It’s loud, fast, thrilling and likely to result in some hearing loss. The band manages to play fret-melting, technical melodic death metal without making you feel you are studying scales. “Sixpounder,” “Living Dead Beat” and “Halo of Blood” opened the show with lightning speed, and we saw the first of the many crowd-surfers of the night.
Old-school songs like “Lake Bodom” from 1997’s Something Wild still sounded as fresh as they were 15 years ago, and new songs like “Scream for Silence” were received by the crowd as instant classics. Children of Bodom also know how to pace the show, giving us slow tempos like “Dead Man’s Hand on You” and “Angels Don’t Kill” in the middle of the show to give us a necessary break.
Keyboardist Janne Wirman was impressive, able to fill the music with dark atmospheres or mimic any ultra-fast guitar solo without effort and a big smile on his face, just like his bandmate bassist Henkka Seppala, who can slam his bass and bang his head like no one else but always has a happy expression. The fact that the musicians were having so much fun showed that audience that Children of Bodom is a band that plays some serious metal without feeling the need to take itself too seriously.