So I've been pretty lazy and I just got around to typing a review... here you go!
Over my years of listening to metal Children of Bodom has been very important to me. As one of the first bands in the genre that I actually got into, I hold their music closer to me than other artists. I remember the first time I listened to their album Hate Crew Deathroll; I loved the music, but I couldn’t get past the harsh vocals. Despite that, I continued to listen to it and in time I got used to those vocals, eventually ending up loving them. It was at that time that I was able to get into more extreme metal and branch out to other genres.
Now about five years from my initial introduction to the band I still listen to them consistently, although I have plenty of other bands to choose from these days. When this tour was announced I knew I needed to attend. This would be my third time seeing them, and although I was looking forward to it, I was not expecting very much. It pains me to say that they’ve been slowly decaying as time goes on. This process started years before I got into them, but I was lucky enough to see them play plenty of old material the first time I saw them live. They are no longer the band you see in that low budget music video for “Deadnight Warrior”. They are no longer the band you hear on the live album Tokyo Warhearts. Alexi’s vision of the band began to change and he no longer cared for writing melodic riffs and shredding solos, instead turning to a more riff oriented style, dropping nearly all the aspects of their music that made them so unique. Looking back now, I wish I was introduced to them earlier. I feel like I was deprived of their music and missed out on great opportunities to see them perform songs live that have become rarities these days. I knew their set would focus on new material, but I wanted to go anyway. Part of the reason was to see one song in particular, and the other was purely nostalgia.
Upon arrival at 6:30 pm there was a pretty lengthy line around the venue. In my other visits to the House of Blues in Hollywood the line before weekend shows usually ends up around the corner at the shops along Sunset Blvd., but that’s were I ended up standing when I got there. By the time the doors opened the line stretched all the way to the end of the block. I was surprised to see that the group of kids in front of me were wearing Morbid Angel, Obituary, and Death shirts, while the kid behind me was sporting his Children of Bodom shirt with his hair in pig tails and a pink hair band with a bow to top it off. This was probably one of the most diverse crowds I’ve seen at a metal show, even including a few bros in flat brim hats.
After a bit of a wait the line finally began to move. The doors were scheduled to open at 7:00, but they ended up opening nearly a half hour later than that. I was rather annoyed, but I’ve come to expect that at the House of Blues. I can’t remember the last time the doors opened on time there. By the time I got inside SepticFlesh was already finishing up the second song in their set. Upon opening the doors I heard what appeared to be the last second of “Communion”. Honestly, as much as I enjoy SepticFlesh on record, they are an extremely disappointing live band. It’s not because of their performance, but because they lack a keyboard player. Anyone who is familiar with the band knows how keyboard driven their newer music is, so it’s very awkward watching them on stage playing to backing tracks. I was also extremely disappointed in their choice of songs. I was hoping they would at least play one song from my favorite album of theirs, Sumerian Daemons, but they completely ignored it. I suppose I was lucky to see them play “Unbeliever” on their last North American tour with Behemoth, but I’m disappointed that I may never have the chance to hear “Infernal Sun” or “The Watchers” live. I spent most of their set focusing on the drummer, who I thought put on a great performance. Not many drummers actually get into the music live; in fact, a lot of drummers look incredibly sterile and bored on stage. That is not the case with Fotis though, he has impressed me both times I’ve seen the band now.
After SepticFlesh finished up Obscura began to set up their equipment. I admit that I have had a hard time getting into Obscura’s albums, despite being a fan of Necrophagist. There are some mind blowing solos in their songs, but the music itself has never really hooked me in the way it has for so many technical death metal fans. That being said, I was still looking forward to seeing them, and I was pleasantly surprised. I actually enjoyed them a lot more than I thought I would. They sounded incredible live and watching both guitarists nail those complex solos was truly a sight. I can’t say I’ve been converted into a fan, but after seeing them perform I have a lot more respect for them and perhaps I will find myself listening to them from time to time.
Now for the third band, Devin Townsend Project. I really did not know what to expect from Devin live, having only listened to few songs of his. He was hilarious on stage and interacted with the crowd throughout the set, but the music left me a bit confused. I just don’t understand the draw to it. To me it was just a wall of sounds and it did not help that they played to backing tracks just as SepticFlesh did. The crowd was very receptive though, even chanting “Devin” after the set was over, but I remained unimpressed.
And then it was time for the band I came for, Children of Bodom. It seemed to take forever for the band to sound check, but eventually they were ready. They opened with a new song and then revisited Hate Crew Deathroll with “Bodom Beach Terror” and “Needled 24/7″. The crowd was the most intense I have seen at a Children of Bodom show, with constant crowd surfing and a good pit throughout the set. It was not until about halfway through the set that they played “Children of Bodom”, a song I did not think I would ever hear live (and it was a big part of why I came to the show). Hearing that opening riff sent chills down my spine. It reminded me of all the time I spent obsessing over Hatebreeder before I had ever seen the band live. After the solo they went into “Hate Me!”, a song I wish they would switch out for something else off of Follow the Reaper. I do enjoy the song a lot, but it just can’t compare to “Mask of Sanity” or “Kissing the Shadows”. It was not long before they were playing the classic “Downfall” and then heading off stage before returning for the encore. After playing “Was It Worth It?” Alexi motioned something to the rest of the band and I got excited thinking they might pull out “Kissing the Shadows”, but alas they did not. Despite my disappointment in their set list I did in fact enjoy the show, and I know this won’t be the last time I see them. Perhaps their next time around they will bring back some more old material; seeing as they pulled out “Lake Bodom” the last time I saw them, there is still hope in me that I might one day see “Deadnight Warrior” or “Touch Like Angel of Death” performed. One can dream, right?
Ride the wings of death.