Finnish quintet performs to rabid crowd’s delight
Children of Bodom and Amon Amarth might just be the saviors of metal.
At the very least, they were the saviors of Monday night’s concert at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, which also featured North Carolina’s Sanctity and the French quartet Gojira.
The crazy dudes from Scandinavia in the Viking-metal outfit Amon Amarth and extreme-metal group Children of Bodom delivered, saving the show from the near ruin of the openers. Of course, they destroyed everything in sight in the process – not the least of which were everyone’s eardrums.
Headliner Children of Bodom performed an utterly raucous show, complete with a sophisticated stage light setup to complement the stunning virtuosity of guitarist Alexi Laiho and keyboardist Janne Warman. The band, rounded out by guitarist Roope Latvala, bassist Henkka Seppala and drummer Jaska Raatikainen, executed every last note with razor-sharp precision. The Finns made the show undeniably exciting with double bass drumming that rearranged internal organs and guitar riffs that make the Indy 500 seem like a snail race.
Amon Amarth did a fine job warming up the crowd, as the Swedes delivered some of metal’s finest Viking-influenced anthems as fists pumped through the hazy air and the flowing locks of metalheads flailed about unabated. The headbangs and sing-a-longs to staples such as “Death in Fire,” “Fate of Norns” and “Runes to My Memory” were obviously long-awaited, as the crowd hardly collectively flinched during the two opening sets.
It’s not that Gojira lacks talented musicians or a decisively unique sound. But the Frenchmen’s tunes unfortunately plod along at a rather tepid pace, with the chugging riffs merely meandering and going seemingly nowhere.
The same can be said for Sanctity, who is certainly a capable group of musicians. But the melodic thrash outfit simply comes across as generic in a genre teeming with wannabes. Plus, a few songs just smack of Metallica worship (let’s leave that to the boys in Trivium, hm?). Couple that with a vocalist who sounds like a dog that just overdosed on kibbles, and you’ve got a band with little in the way of staying power.
But the Finns. Oh, the Finns. Children of Bodom were a much different story.
What’s remarkable about Laiho and company’s performance is that every song sounds legions better live than it does on disc. Maybe it’s the seizure-inducing strobes that spell “COB” when lighted; maybe it’s the larger-than-life sound they create by cranking the volume to “max.” Whatever it is, it worked.
Laiho’s fretwork is nothing short of amazing, his fingers effortlessly sliding up and down his axe for solo after solo. Keyboardist Warman demonstrated similar aptitude, giving even the greatest of classical composers a run for their money.
More incredible still is the quintet’s flexibility on stage. It was easy to notice an extra solo was thrown in here and there, or a typical solo tweaked a bit. Laiho and Warman could often be seen conversing mid-song, no doubt plotting their next aural assault. The fact that they can take their music to a new level on a whim proves their place as staples in the world of metal.
There was admittedly something to be desired in the song selection, as far too much of the material came off the group’s latest studio work, “Are You Dead Yet?” Most other songs came from the band’s 2003 release, “Hate Crew Deathroll.” But it’s hard to deny the fist-pumping catchiness of tunes like “In Your Face” – a ditty Laiho dedicated to “everyone you hate.”
Classics like “Warheart” from 1999’s “Hatebreeder” were sadly omitted, but a few songs from that album and 2001’s “Follow the Reaper” more than made up for that.
And when push comes to shove, that’s just nitpicking. The bottom line is that Children of Bodom can perform any song to near-perfection – thus making the song selection a rather moot point.