Children of Bodom
and Amon Amarth
Sunday December 17, 2006
New York City, NY
* Live review and photos by Shaq
It’s hard to believe that just three years ago, we were still dreaming of the day when Children of Bodom would make their way to North America. Finally the time came, and they haven’t really left ever since. If my count is correct, since then they have done four tours as an opening band, a one-off premiere headlining show, and now their third headlining tour. Needless to say, the band has really gained quite a fan base over here, deservedly so, which only continues to grow. The last time they came to New York City, just a year ago with almost the same tour package, they sold out Irving Plaza, a venue with the capacity of about 1000 people. This time they were playing the more upscale Nokia Theater, boasting a capacity of slightly more than 2000. In case you were wondering, this show sold out too. This is a real testament to their growing success in the region. And now, onto the show!
The last time these vikings pillaged through was a year ago, opening for Children of Bodom. However, this time around they have moved up a slot in the lineup, providing direct support for the Finns, and were granted the time to perform an extra few songs. This marked my third time seeing Amon, and I can say without a doubt that this was the best performance I’ve seen out of them. This was only enhanced by the fact that their new album is simply put some of their best material to date, which says a lot.
They took the stage to an energetic crowd, proving that they have a growing fan base here as well. As expected, Johan strolled out with his mighty beer horn affixed to his side. I can also confirm that this horn was not just for show, as I could see beer spilling from it as he ran around the stage.
This time around they decided to stick with newer material, not going any further back than VERSUS THE WORLD, and even from that they only did “Death in Fire.” However, this being my favorite song from the Norsemen, I could not complain. Their set began with back to back cuts from their new album WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE, “Valhall Awaits Me” and “Runes to My Memory,” which sent the crowd into a frenzy. It became obvious very quickly that the new album has gone over very well with Amon Amarth fans, and I’d go so far as to say it has gotten them many new fans in the process. This was further demonstrated during the final song of their set, “The Pursuit of Vikings.” Johan instructed the audience to sing along with the chorus, during which he would actually stop and allow the crowd to take over. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as this isn’t something you typically see for a death metal show, but I was taken aback by the outcome. Seemingly the entire floor was singing along with every word, so much that Johan didn’t even really need to sing himself.
Unfortunately, being in an opening slot doesn’t leave them nearly enough time to play everything you want to hear, but anyone who walked away without having been blown away by Amon Amarth’s performance that night is clearly out of their mind.
Valhall Awaits Me
Runes to My Memory
Death in Fire
Fate of Norns
An Ancient Sign of a Coming Storm
The Pursuit of Vikings
And now for the main act of the night. Children of Bodom has always been a band that puts on a phenomenal live show, which always made up for the lack of variety in the setlists from tour to tour. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw them last year that ARE YOU DEAD YET? clicked with me, and I love the album now, despite having listed it among my various disappointments for last year. However, this time around Bodom decided to mix in a few classics they’ve never played on any North American tour before, which was a welcome breath of fresh air.
Newcomers to the Bodom setlist included “Children of Decadence”, “Mask of Sanity,” and “Children of Bodom.” The sold out crowd at Nokia Theater seemed eager to see these rarities in lieu of the regulars heard on every tour. One other thing worth noting about the crowd is the demographic, which is significantly shifted from where it would have been three years ago. The show itself allowed for ages 16 and up, and from what I could tell many of those in attendance barely made the cutoff. Whether this is a good or bad thing can be argued endlessly, but it certainly leaves some questions to be answered. Is Children of Bodom “popular”? Are they the new fad in mainstream metal?
Before I get too off track with demographic analysis, let me get back to the show. I’ve always said that Children of Bodom puts out one of the best shows you’ll ever see, and is what has kept me coming back tour after tour. Unfortunately, watching them this time around left me somewhat unsatisfied. It wasn’t that they put on a bad show per se, because that certainly was not the case. Furthermore, Bodom on a bad day (possible song title?) far surpasses many bands on their best. However, even though I couldn’t put my finger on it, I felt that something was missing from enjoying it to the extent I always have in the past. Perhaps they’re starting to get burnt out after the relentless touring of the same places time and time again, they could answer that better than I. I’ve always preferred quality over quantity, and this is certainly no exception.
Before I start getting hate mail from the Hate Crew soldiers, let me clarify some things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying their performance was bad. As a matter of fact, it was a good performance. It just so happens that “good” falls short of the “phenomenal I’d classify their previous performances as, which is all I meant by my previous assessment. For any fan of the band, I’d still highly recommend you going to check out the live show, as I’m sure I will the next time they roll through.
Children of Decadence/Chokehold
Living Dead Beat
Are You Dead Yet?
Mask of Sanity/Dead Night Warrior
Angels Don’t Kill
Children of Bodom
Bodom Beach Terror
In Your Face
I would like to thank Michelle Ferraro from Metal Blade for the press pass.