For fans of CHILDREN OF BODOM, the last twelve months have definitely been an extreme rollercoaster. After their well-received studio album “Hexed” and a highly successful European tour, the Finnish melodic death metal legends announced their sudden separation and organized a short farewell tour around their home country. A few months later, the band’s mastermind, guitarist/singer Alexi Laiho, unable to keep the original name for legal reasons, confirmed he was putting up a new band together under the moniker BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT, an obvious reference to his previous band. This renewed version of the band would include his old partner in crime Daniel Freyberg on guitars, together with bassist Mitja Toivonen (former SANTA CRUZ) and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen of PARADISE LOST fame. The current lineup is completed by session/live keyboardist Vili Itäpelto.
The band had a few summer festival shows scheduled including TUSKA OPEN AIR, and the stakes to see their debut went quite high. But sadly enough, as we all know, summer was canceled and there was a lot of uncertainty as to when we would be able to enjoy live music again. Fortunately, things are not too bad in Finland at the moment and current guidelines allow small public events to be held under certain conditions including limited capacity at the venues. This was the perfect opportunity for BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT to organize their first live dates and to get things going after existing officially for a bit over half a year. As a long-term BODOM fan who, ironically, ended up moving to Finland all the way from Chile, I was very curious to witness the new incarnation of the band that used to be one of my main influences as an angsty teenager.
The show started with the energetic “Needled 24/7,” which felt like an immediate adrenaline shot straight to the heart. It’s so weird to see songs like this performed live in front of a crowd of static fans standing in parallel rows unable to run in circles and mosh like one does at a CHILDREN OF BODOM concert. A very surreal image, for sure. Next in line was the one-two punch consisting of “Silent Night, Bodom Night” and “Bodom After Midnight”, two of the greatest songs from the early BODOM catalogue. Right from the beginning, you noticed how the band has gelled very quickly despite their short existence. Of course, Alexi and Daniel have worked together for quite a while, so the guitar work was especially impeccable but the rhythm section and keys were also spot on the whole time.
They continued with a few slower and groovier tracks such as “Sixpounder,” “Platitudes and Barren Words,” “Living Dead Beat,” and “Knuckleduster.” I have to admit that I’m a bigger fan of their rawer, faster, early stuff but these songs were highly enjoyable and allowed the audience to take a breath after such a frantic start. Going back to the classic “Angels Don’t Kill” was a personal highlight simply because those razor-sharp riffs and dark melodies are just irresistible; one of my favorite songs, period. “Hate Me!” was just as epic and brought me back to high school in the split of a second. The best was yet to come with “Deadnight Warrior,” the only nod to that glorious debut from 1997, which made everyone go bananas. “Hatebreeder” was a pleasant surprise and one of the most aggressive songs in their set, executed with surgical precision.
“Everytime I Die” and “Follow the Reaper” kept the energy flowing and the crowd responded accordingly by cheering and singing with their horns in the air. The communion between the band and the audience, together with the energy delivered by the “newcomers” was something worth underlining, showing plenty of self-confidence and charisma in the new line-up. “Downfall” used to be one of CHILDREN OF BODOM’s staples and this was no exception. This is definitely one of those songs you just can’t take off the setlist even if it has been played a million times. It is just so good. So is “Hate Crew Deathroll,” with its hypnotizing keyboard intro and contagious deadly beat. I would lie if I said I didn’t miss the great Janne Wirman at times but Vili did a great job. The show ended with two smashing hits like “Are You Dead Yet” and “In Your Face,” giving a perfect closure to 90 minutes of beautiful brutality.
All-in-all, BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT offered a highly satisfying live experience and a solid setlist full of classics delivered with great precision and energy. My possible apprehensions about the ability of this new band to recreate the atmosphere of CHILDREN OF BODOM shows vanished with the first few chords and it almost felt like watching “the real thing.” It didn’t feel like a tribute band at all, maybe because, after all, Alexi is the star of the show and the genius behind these great songs. Being an avid fan of live music, the last six months have been torture and the possibility to attend international gigs still appears very far away on the horizon. Luckily for us, the Finnish metal scene is strong enough to keep us afloat for quite a while as long as these local concerts are allowed.
Written by David Araneda
1. Needled 24/7
2. Silent Night, Bodom Night
3. Bodom After Midnight
5. Platitudes and Barren Words
6. Living Dead Beat
8. Angels Don’t Kill
9. Hate Me!
10. Deadnight Warrior
12. Everytime I Die
13. Follow the Reaper
15. Hate Crew Deathroll
16. Are You Dead Yet?
17. In Your Face
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