Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

15.12.29 WHEEL & CHILDREN OF BODOM @ JÄÄHALLI, HELSINKI

Growing up as a teenager in Chile in the early 2000s, CHILDREN OF BODOM were one of my absolute favorite bands. Their first three albums opened a new world to me: it was the perfect blend of aggression, technique, and attitude. Although after “Hate Crew Deathroll” I lost a bit my interest in them for many reasons (not all related to the band), I rediscovered them when I moved to Finland and realized how important they are to the local scene. “Hexed” was arguably their best studio effort in many years, so the announcement of their separation came to me as a surprise, as I guess it was the situation for most people. So, I couldn’t miss the chance to see them live one last time.

I must confess I was a bit surprised when they announced the band invited to open their last-ever concert. WHEEL is an awesome young prog metal act that has received quite a lot of attention lately, with only one LP and two EPs. I really dig their music, but I couldn’t see the connection between their style and the crowd who follows Bodom, so I was curious to see their reaction. Luckily, the audience was very respectful and reacted in a positive way in what was, according to themselves, their biggest local gig so far. The Finnish/British four-piece made great use of the 45 minutes they were given and played most of their excellent album “Moving Backwards”, released earlier this year.

As usual, their stage setup was very minimalistic, with dim lights and all band members hiding their identities with hoodies. They began their show with “Lacking”, a long and dense track featuring strong work by new bassist Aki Virta. “Vultures” is always one of the highlights of their gigs, it’s just so contagious and precise. I’m glad they also included some material from “The Divide EP”: the excellent “Please” was the chosen one and added some extra flavor to the mix. “Tyrant” and “Where the Pieces Lie” helped to keep the energy flowing, but it wouldn’t be a WHEEL concert without the homonymous track “Wheel”, a ten-minute sonic trip to infinity … and beyond. Always a pleasure to see them live.

By the time CHILDREN OF BODOM hit the stage, Jäähalli was fully packed, and you could feel the temperature rising as it got closer to showtime. They opened their final set with an energic one-two punch of the finest tracks from “Hexed”, the catchy and melodic “Under Grass and Clover” and “Platitudes and Barren Words”. Alexi Laiho addressed the audience in Finnish and thanked them for joining them one last time after so many years of unconditional support. They proceeded to deliver two fast and furious songs like “In Your Face” and “Shovel Knockout”, unleashing the first mosh pits of the evening, only to continue with classics such as the danceable “Bodom Beach Terror” and the murky “Everytime I Die”.

As someone pointed out, they made sure to include at least one song from each of their ten albums in the setlist, so title-tracks “Halo of Blood”, “Are You Dead Yet?”, “Blooddrunk” and “I Worship Chaos” were the chosen ones to embody their respective albums. Each one of these tracks is representative of the evolution of the band throughout the years, although they all have in common the rawness and aggressiveness that gave them world fame. Even if we know that things between the members of the band are not so great, their mood during the show seemed quite relaxed, with Alexi Laiho and Janne Wirman dropping some jokes and getting close to each other at points.

The last third of their 90-minute set was all about old-school classics: from the soothing “Angels Don’t Kill” to the overly melodic “Follow The Reaper”, they jumped all the way to the start with the timeless “Deadnight Warrior”, which brought me back to high school. Trademark songs like “Needled 24/7″, “Hate Me!” and “Hate Crew Deathroll” couldn’t be absent either, but it was only during “Lake Bodom” and “Downfall” that I realized this was actually the end of the band as we know it. After a long ovation by the crowd, the band took some pictures and left the stage without making any speeches, except for drummer Jaska Ratikainen, who dedicated some words to their loyal fans and thanked them for all these years.

CHILDREN OF BODOM’s last gig was an unforgettable concert experience from the musical point of view and because of the special setlist they put together, which differed quite a bit from what they’ve been playing lately. Of course, we were not expecting a telenovela ending from one of the wildest bands that ever saw the face of the earth, but a little bit more of interaction with the fans would also have been welcomed. They say that all good (and bad) things come to an end, but I guess no one expected this to be so soon and sudden. I guess we’ll be mourning for good old Bodom until we see what Alexi and Daniel Freyberg have in mind to keep the legacy of the band alive.

Article written by David Araneda
Photos by Laureline Tilkin

SETLIST

  1. Under Grass and Clover
  2. Platitudes and Barren Words
  3. In Your Face
  4. Shovel Knockout
  5. Bodom Beach Terror
  6. Everytime I Die
  7. Halo of Blood
  8. Are You Dead Yet?
  9. Blooddrunk
  10. I Worship Chaos
  11. Angels Don’t Kill
  12. Follow the Reaper
  13. Deadnight Warrior
  14. Needled 24/7
  15. Hate Me!
  16. Hate Crew Deathroll
  17. Lake Bodom
  18. Downfall

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