Children of Bodom/Trivium/Amon Amarth
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The Croatian Cultural Centre
Vancouver, BC Canada
**Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
After several visits to Vancouver in 2003 and 2004 opening for other bands, Children of Bodom finally moved to the big leagues and got their first headlining tour of North America buoyed by their new release, ARE YOU DEAD YET?. The odd pairing of CoB with American metalcore poster-boys, Trivium, and Swedish Viking metallers, Amon Amarth, provided an eclectic blend to say the least and surprisingly, all three bands got the sold-out crowd going nuts! With this being an all-ages show, a lot of kids were probably attending their first metal concert and since Alexi Laiho and Matt Heafy stand a good chance of being known as that generation’s guitar gods, this show could be to a 15-year old kid what an Iron Maiden/Judas Priest double bill would be to someone twenty years older.
Before the show, Children of Bodom took over Vancouver’s Scrape Records for an in-store meet & greet with about 150 fans showing up to get things signed and win a cool, one-of-a-kind door prize made up of a CoB coffin that housed the new CD and other goodies. Alexi Laiho asked the million-dollar question, “Which CoB band members are having a conversation with each other in their cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Oops, I Did It Again’?” and one lucky winner got the booty. While chatting with Laiho, I asked him what the status was on a new album from his other band, Sinergy, and with bass and drums completed and vocals and guitars nearly finished, he said a 2006 release is probable. This will come as great news to fans awaiting SINS OF OUR PAST, the much-delayed follow-up to 2002’s SUICIDE BY MY SIDE.
On to the show…
Sweden’s reigning masters of Viking metal, Amon Amarth, pillaged Vancouver on their first visit and a surprisingly high number of fans showed up early to catch their half-hour set. Besides “Releasing Surtur’s Fire,” all songs came from last year’s FATE OF NORNS and 2002’s VERSUS THE WORLD releases. A particularly crushing version of “Death In Fire” closed out Amon Amarth’s set but “Fate of Norns,” “The Pursuit of Vikings” and “For The Stabwounds In Our Backs” levelled the crowd as vocalist Johann Hegg hoisted an actual horn of mead strapped to his hip between songs. Windmill headbanging from guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg got the crowd whipped up and as Hegg stated “Death In Fire” would be their last song of the night, a collective groan panned across the crowd. To say that Amon Amarth got one of the largest turn-outs for an opening band at an early show (they went on an 7:30PM) and best responses from a crowd I have ever seen is an understatement. The next time Amon Amarth comes through Vancouver, it is absolutely essential that they play higher up on the bill because not only did the crowd want more but the band members seemed a bit taken aback by the response, as well.
AMON AMARTH SETLIST
An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm
The Pursuit of Vikings
Releasing Surtur’s Fire
Fate of Norns
For The Stabwounds In Our Backs
Death In Fire
Many metalheads would scream injustice that Florida’s Trivium secured a longer set (40 minutes) than Amon Amarth but like it or not, metalcore is the name of the game these days and Trivium plays that game very well. Led by 19-year old vocalist and guitar virtuoso, Matt Heafy, Trivium plays catchy-as-all-get-out metalcore that is easy enough on the ears for mass consumption but still has enough edge to appeal to someone looking for a little dust-up in the moshpit. I prefer Heafy’s other, much heavier band, Capharnaum, but that’s just my own personal tastes. Heafy’s propensity for using “fuck” for what seemed like every other word got old pretty fast but the crowd was going insane throughout the band’s set, singing along to all the great choruses and just plain having a good ol’ time. Many people would know Trivium’s drummer, Travis Smith, as the artist behind most of Opeth’s album covers more than for his work behind the kit. Guitarist Corey Beaulieu (celebrating his 22nd birthday here with about 500 close friends) overlapped an abundance of melodic riffs with Heafy and several of the songs really stuck in my head. “Rain,” “Like Light To The Flies” and “Pull Harder On The Heart Strings of Your Martyr” were chorus-driven slices of catchiness that everyone seemed to know the words much to Heafy’s delight. The vocalist told the crowd to “headbang so hard you can’t stand up tomorrow” before set-closer “…Martyr” and announced that “No one is too cool to jump at a Trivium show. If so, go outside!” No one left and they all, indeed, jumped. The band’s second album, 2005’s ASCENDANCY, got the full treatment here with eight of its twelve tracks played, while 2003’s EMBERS TO INFERNO was strangely ignored. Having never heard their debut, I can’t say why but ASCENDANCY launched Trivium to stardom and earned them a spot on Ozzfest’s second stage this summer, so they must have done something right. Trivium aren’t really my cup of tea but they do what they do well and have generated a tremendous fanbase as a result. Heafy also announced that Trivium would be back in January with In Flames and Devildriver and with the success of those two bands, that show should be just as insane as this one.
Drowned and Torn Asunder
Like Light To The Flies
A Gunshot To The Head of Trepidation
Pull Harder On The Heartstrings of Your Martyr
After several visits to Vancouver playing an almost identical setlist, it was refreshing to finally hear some new—and different—material from Finnish power thrashers, Children of Bodom. Their brand-new album, ARE YOU DEAD YET?, follows the path that 2003’s HATE CREW DEATHROLL laid out, as the band has begun to move away from the neo-classical influences and blindingly-fast keyboard solos of their first two albums in favour of a more melodic, guitar-oriented album. The new songs also have a slight commercial edge to them that has left many old fans unhappy but the near-sold-out crowd at The Croatian Cultural Centre were more than happy to get rowdy for Children of Bodom’s first headlining tour of North America. This headlining trek afforded the band more stage time (90 minutes) which allowed them to play more material but also slip in the ultimate of live indulgences—the extended solo. And not just a guitar solo, but TWO guitar solos, a keyboard solo AND a drum solo! While some people—myself included—may argue that the band should be filling this time with more songs, the classically-trained talent of frontman Alexi Laiho and keyboardist Janne Warman cannot be denied. The band wisely kept these ego-strokes short, as Laiho took his own turn in the spotlight before exchanging wanks with Warman after “Needled 24/7.” Even Jaska Raatikanen’s drum solo after “Angels Don’t Kill” was kept in check. However, it is not wise to start an encore with a solo as Roope Latvala did! The snazzy new lightshow also showed that Children of Bodom’s “blue book” value has increased, bathing the band in a mesh of strobes and a sea of blue, green, red and yellow—not coincidentally, the hue of each of their albums. Laiho, a classic frontman that oozes charisma along with talent, possesses all the signature moves as well as the chops to elevate him to the status of Slash, Zakk Wylde and Randy Rhoads for this generation. Laiho is poised for guitar god status and his appeal also translates to the ladies’, who were not ashamed to throw a bra on stage that eventually found its way on to the front of Warman’s keyboard. Laiho’s clichéd stage banter provided plenty of time for Latvala to power smoke between songs, too. The addition of new tracks as well as older material like “Downfall,” “Bodom After Midnight” and “Silent Night, Bodom Night” kept the energy up provided by set staples like “Hate Me,” “Everytime I Die,” “Sixpounder” and “Needled 24/7.” “Living Dead Beat” and the title track from the new CD are definitely geared towards permanent inclusion in the Children of Bodom setlist but a long-time favourite—“Touch Like Angel of Death”—was curiously absent this time around. Still, hearing “Angels Don’t Kill” and “Follow The Reaper” were a real treat.
CHILDREN OF BODOM SETLIST
Intro (Twist & Shout)
Living Dead Beat
Silent Night, Bodom Night
We’re Not Gonna Fall
Angels Don’t Kill
Bodom After Midnight/Bodom Beach Terror
Follow The Reaper
Punch Me I Bleed
Hate Crew Deathroll
Are You Dead Yet?
Everytime I Die
Outro (Fight For Your Right To Party)
What could have been a train-wreck of a show ended up being a sold-out night of boundless energy and excited fans all around. Amon Amarth conquered Vancouver and, quite frankly, surprised me the most out of all three bands. Trivium won over the young audience and propelled many to seek out ASCENDANCY and come back for the In Flames/Devildriver tour in the winter. But the night was definitely owned by Children of Bodom, riding high on a new album and excitement they have never experienced on these shores. Look for 2006 to be Children of Bodom’s breakout year in North America with a rumored spot on Ozzfest and the momentum of the new CD building, as well.