Children of Bodom at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit, MI

Finnish extreme metal masters Children of Bodom ignite crazed fans with support from Swallow the Sun, Wolfheart, and Hollow Cry.

Opening the show is the Spanish metal band, Hollow Cry. Led by singer Xavi Strife, they get the early crowd warmed up with a rousing set of metalcore and thrash. Not listed on the bill, they caught some people off guard that were expecting Wolfheart to be on first. However, that is not a knock on this band. They put on a short, but blistering set that had several asking who they were between songs. I think they gained some new fans tonight judging by the reactions.

Finnish winter metal band Wolfheart, led by Tuomas Saukkonen on vocals and guitar, keep the irons in the fire with a brutal set of metal. Tuomas delivers harsh vocals and his imposing presence is like that of Kerry King with a muscular build, shaved head, goatee, and using a chain as a guitar strap. Their latest album is the 2018 release Constellation of the Black Light and the songs “Everlasting Fall” and “Breakwater” are early in their set. Several of the songs are long and segue from slow passages to rapid-fire guitar and blast beat drumming. They close out their set with “Boneyard” from Tyhjyys. Both “Breakwater” and “Boneyard” deliver a pummeling drum beat, that have the crowd throwing their fists and horns in the air and letting out huge cheers and whistles in appreciation.

Next up is death and doom metal band Swallow the Sun, also from Finland. Their songs have an epic and atmospheric sound characterized by tempo changes, harmonizing guitars, and soaring keyboards. With a six-piece band, the sound is huge for this venue. The vocals range from soft and clean to angry screams and deep growls. “These Woods Breathe Evil” from the album New Moon gets their set off to a great start with its melodic but driving rhythm. Their setlist also includes the new songs “Upon the Water”, “Firelights”, and “Stone Wings” from When a Shadow is Forced Into the Light and ends with a bang with 2 songs from their 2003 release The Morning Never Came. The powerful “Deadly Nightshade” has the mostly male crowd headbanging and mood of the music is accompanied by dark lighting and smoke. Closing it out is “Swallow (Horror Pt. 1).”

Children of Bodom has been blazing a trail and building a dedicated fan base for over 20 years. With 10 studio albums under their belt, they have plenty of material to pull from for a live set. They get things off to a roaring start with the crushing “Are You Dead Yet?” from the 2005 release of the same name. This song immediately ignites the fans as they bang their heads.  Since this tour is in support of their recently release Hexed album, several songs from it are in the setlist tonight including the next song “Under Grass and Clover.” It is a fast-paced, straight ahead rocker with that signature Children of Bodom sound led by Alexi Laiho’s vocals and face-melting guitar shredding. It is one of the stand-out tracks on the new album.

It does not take long to whip this Detroit crowd into a frenzy as a mosh pit breaks out during the new song “This Road.” The pit widens to most of the floor when they tear into “Bodom Beach Terror” and features Janne Wirman shredding on the keyboards. Another new song, “Platitudes and Barren Words”, keeps the energy flowing with its straight-ahead metal, and has Alexi and Daniel Freyberg on a dual guitar attack.  Just about every song has these two ripping it up, with Alexi showing off his skills with plenty of sweep-picking and finger-tapping like on “We’re Not Gonna Fall”.

After “I Worship Chaos” and the heavy “Sixpounder,” they slow it down with “Angels Don’t Kill” that starts with keyboards and cymbals and then transitions into a melodic song complete with harmonizing guitars and even some squeals. One of the things that has always distinguished Children of Bodom’s songs is the blending of the guitars and keyboards that at times sounds like many guitars shredding. They wind down the main portion of their set with the killer song “If You Want Peace…Prepare for War”, that has all hell breaking loose on the floor; moshing, people bouncing, and many body-surfing to the front.

With chants of “Bodom, Bodom, Bodom…,” the band returns to the stage. Janne comments what a great crowd they are, especially for a Monday and the day after St. Patrick’s Day. They finish the night off with the popular “Hate Me!” and “Downfall” that leaves the fans wanting more. What an awesome night of metal by all the bands.

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About Gary Pahlow 55 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.

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