Review by Greg Maki
With four bands from four different countries, Children of Bodom’s “I Worship Chaos” tour was an international affair. Even better, each act brought a very different sound to the stage, making for a pleasantly diverse night of metal in Baltimore.
The progressive metal stylings of Oni, from Canada, kicked off the evening. This is an interesting, talented band that hasn’t quite put it all together yet, but it was fun watching them as they’re figuring out how the pieces fit. Guitarists Martin Andres and Brandon White each can shred with the best of them, and the band’s secret weapon is John “D” on the xylosynth, a sort of electric xylophone that hasn’t been used in metal before. Vocalist Jake Oni’s clean singing complemented the music better than his barks and growls, but this definitely is a band to keep an eye on as it matures.
The most entertaining set of the night came from band number two—Exmortus, from California. Playing a set of old-school-style thrash mixed with classical influences, these guys made me wish I had hair long enough for headbanging. Most of their songs dealt with battles and war, but fists probably would have been in the air even if vocalist/guitarist Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez had been shouting his grocery list. The guitar wizardry of Gonzalez and David Rivera was something to see, and I did not want it to end.
Abbath, formerly of Immortal, now fronting his own eponymous band and star of many a meme, changed the mood significantly. On a stage shrouded in fog and with constant, near-blinding strobe lights, the Norwegian black metal monster clearly was the main attraction for many in attendance. (He definitely won the award for best merch of the night. Who wouldn’t want an Abbath bobblehead or snow globe?) Black metal won’t ever be my thing, but I was surprised by the amount of groove Abbath’s songs had.
Fittingly, the night’s headliner, Finnish metal maniacs Children of Bodom, incorporated elements of the styles of all three openers in a sound it has honed over the course of 20 years and nine studio albums. Sometimes veering a little closer to one style or another, the band’s output has been remarkably consistent during that time, as evidenced by this set spanning its entire career. Though small in stature, vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho has a big, nasty guitar tone that the superb mix kept from drowning out the other fine players in the band, especially keyboardist Janne Wirman. The best moments of any Bodom show are when Laiho steps to the back of the stage to trade solos with Wirman in what always seems like a game of whose fingers can move faster.
Children of Bodom set list: “Needled 24/7,” “Follow the Reaper,” “Living Dead Beat,” “Trashed, Lost & Strungout,” “Morrigan,” “In Your Face,” “My Bodom (I am the Only One),” “Everytime I Die,” “Bodom After Midnight,” “Silent Night, Bodom Night,” “I Worship Chaos,” “Angels Don’t Kill,” “Lake Bodom,” “Children of Decadence,” (encore) “Hate Me!,” “Downfall”