Another melodic death metal night was scheduled at Tavastia on 10 December 2019. We would be one of the lucky few to see one of the last live gigs of national melodic death metal heroes CHILDREN OF BODOM before their announced parting of ways. I was also really looking forward to seeing support acts BRYMIR and BLOODRED HOURGLASS, so this would be the perfect opportunity to watch them perform live. The gig was entirely sold-out, with many fans already queueing up outside when we got there, visibly excited to get in early.
There was quite the turnout for opener BLOODRED HOURGLASS. The Mikkeli-based band is definitely on the rise since their debut album “Lifebound” back in 2012, and got another well-deserved popularity boost since their latest release “Godsend”. With a style quite similar to the headlining act, they were sure to get the audience in the mood. Soon, Jarkko Koukonen’s growls thundered through the venue, beckoning me from the back towards the front of the venue. The whole performance was very dynamic yet somehow quite intimate, with lots of crowd interaction and fan appreciation. Even though they didn’t have the whole stage space to perform on, the band made great use of every inch of space they did have. They were clearly enjoying the performance, and this positive energy could be felt throughout the whole venue, infectious to those around them and calling newcomers to join the party.
Highlights from their latest effort “Godsend”, like the demonically catchy “Waves of Black” and “Alysia”, made those fists fly up in the air. That said, their setlist turned out to be a delightful anthology of their studio repertoire, with “Castle Ashtray” from incredibly well-received “Lifebound”, aggressive “Six Feet Savior” and “Quiet Complaint” from “Heal”, and “Where the Sinners Crawl” from “Where the Oceans Burn” as kick-ass closer. With these great song choices for a well-balanced mix of old and new, BLOODRED HOURGLASS set Tavastia on fire with their blazing ball of sheer power. Mark my words, this band is going places, check them out and you’ll see what I mean.
Next up, Finnish Epic Metal band BRYMIR. Getting to know them through their latest studio album “Wings Of Fire”, I consider myself very late to the party. Nevertheless, I took a journey back in time to get to know some of their earlier work, and realised how much the band has grown since they were founded back in 2006. This would be the first time seeing them live, and I was very curious to see how the beautiful orchestrations the band is known for would translate on stage. BRYMIR unleashed hell upon Tavastia with the epic “Gloria In Regum”, which has the perfect build-up to open the show with a bang. By now, the whole venue is filled with enthusiastic metalheads, and the band gets a very warm welcome.
Aside from warming things up with pinnacles from their latest effort “Wings Of Fire”, including the heroic “Ride On, Spirit” and “Chasing The Skyline”, charismatic frontman Viktor Gullichsen paused a couple of times to interact with the crowd, which was very much appreciated. He owned the stage with fierce energy, all the while totally acing his signature unclean vocals. His voice has matured a lot through the years and creates an overwhelming atmosphere accompanied by tight, melodic riffs by outstanding guitarists Sean Haslam, and session member Antti Nieminen, who fills in for Joona Björkröth while he is off touring with BATTLE BEAST. The orchestrations add yet another different dimension to the show, elevating the band’s live sound to glorious symphonic heights. Other headbanger’s favourites were the beautiful “For Those Who Died”, and – of course – fast-paced “Wings Of Fire”. The band tore through them all, leaving nothing to be desired. Ending with “Ragnarök” was a great choice, it made it seem like the whole show was an epic journey that now came to a fitting and emotionally charged close. Very impressive!
The last people in the audience filled up Tavastia to the brink for the band we all came to see: CHILDREN OF BODOM. Active since 1993, and with ten full studio albums under their belt, the band has forged themselves into legends by hard work and dedication. Bursting on stage with all-time classic “Are You Dead Yet?”, the kick-off couldn’t have been more perfect. The crowd immediately lost it, unchained like a pack of rabid dogs. Moreover, during the entire show, the audience was insane. The energy never faltered, and the mosh pit was never empty. As one of Finland’s best selling artists of all-time, it comes as no surprise that the audience was quite international, and many fans followed their favorite Finns home.
Even more than usual, there was a clear emphasis on performance, with the band playing as smoothly and tightly as ever. Alexi Laiho was his old self, with the signature ESP flying V in a couple of different shapes and colors for the occasion. It has always amazed me how his fingers fly across the frets effortlessly, while he bellows out the lyrics from the top of his lungs, disproving the ridiculous rumor that men can’t multitask. He took the time to bond with his Helsinki Hate Crew, keeping them engaged, even putting on a witches’ hat someone threw on stage during “Hecate’s Nightmare”. That said, equal praise is due to the other band members, each one of them excellent musicians. The way Janne Wirman worked his magic on the keyboards for some impressive solos to add the final touch to CHILDREN OF BODOM’s signature sound, left me awestruck.
CHILDREN OF BODOM powered through a setlist of old and new gems, the songs from their latest release “Hexed” skilfully intertwined with iconic songs like “Everytime I Die” and “Hate Me!”, catapulting me right back to the past. The crushing riffs, chest thumping drums, and eerie keyboards left old and new fans ecstatic, calling out for more. The most memorable moment for me was the closer, “Downfall”, where effortless skills meet true nostalgia in the unforgettable guitar/keyboard solo, marking the end of an era. Along with quality support acts BLOODRED HOURGLASS and BRYMIR, the evening was one of brutal finesse and high standards.
1. Are You Dead Yet?
2. Under Grass and Clover
3. In Your Face
4. Platitudes and Barren Words
5. Shovel Knockout
6. Bodom Beach Terror
7. This Road
8. Hate Me!
9. Everytime I Die
10. Deadnight Warrior
11. Hecate’s Nightmare
12. I Worship Chaos
13. Angels Don’t Kill
14. Follow the Reaper (Encore)
15. Hate Crew Deathroll (Encore)
16. Downfall (Encore)