A spacious hall adorned with decorated balconies sits before a deceptively large stage. The venue feels majestic and commodious as if designed for theatre or classical music performances. So filled with hundreds of metallers nights like this never fail to be slightly surreal to me. The atmosphere always feels electric before a gig and the shadowed surroundings brings the sense of classical into darker territory. This all made the xylosynth on stage seem oddly fitting.
Oni have slowly been building their reputation higher and higher. What may first strike you is the Xylosynth, immediately giving them a unique presence on stage. However, this isn’t by far their best asset and not how they’ve built their Metal reputation. Despite a sheer force of Metal, what most impresses is their energy on stage. 6 members and utilising the stage to its full as to completely minimise it. Almost stepping over each other as they do. It’s chaotic and intoxicating, how they keep any precision is actually the only reason you’d need to see them.
Also see our interview with vocalist, Jake, below.
Comparatively a smaller band with only 4 members, Forever Still have a completely different stage presence. The stage is empty but when their singer takes the helm it is an epic powerful war on stage. It’s always interesting when someone you think is small opens up and minimises you instantly. When she grabs the stage she takes all of it and those lungs really carry the band right into you with full force. Forever Still show a lot of depth to their vocal work and show it as their centre piece. This makes sense considering her power on stage. This is a band where every musician is just trying to keep up.
Now the night has been full of impressive arts, the venue, the support it’s all been highly melodic and powerful. The way Metal can really show a sense of Classical music violence. This is almost so fitting for a band like Children of Bodom. Now, tonight isn’t just any night, it’s on tour of the 20th anniversary of Something Wild – Children of Bodom’s first album. There has been a lot of these types of celebrations recently. I’m still recalling catching Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse 20th anniversary performance. It feels like there’s a sense of nostalgia in the air with Metal. Something Wild was the album that started it all for a band that has come so far. This initial album really had a sense of Neo-Classical but also a sense of Black Metal. Expectations were high, it’s going to be interesting.
Children of Bodom don’t hold back, their music is tighter than ever and they launch with a sample into ‘Deadnight Warrior’. A rough song at heart and the very start of Something Wild, ‘In the Shadows’ follows so easily but is certainly not a song they’ve played in a while – though it doesn’t show. From the explosive introduction into older territory we take a second to greet the audience and bring them back to more recent times with ‘Needled 24/7’. This is as recent as they’ll get tonight. We focus throughout the night on old songs and the songs that aren’t normally played. The whole band can play fast and precise. In fact they feel tighter and almost more serious and it comes across darker. As if we’re sitting in Black Metal times despite songs like ‘Red Light in My Eyes pt 2’ throwing some Mozart into the mix. I think it’s a novelty for the band as well, they’ve not played these songs in a while either – but it doesn’t show! It merely energises both crowd and band as it’s refreshing and darker.
The night features only two songs from Hatecrew Deathroll and the rest focusing on Hatebreeder and especially Something Wild with only slight mentions to Follow the Reaper. After being built up to with the melodic chaos of Oni and the epic, melodic power of Forever Still, the night seems like a dark theatre. We’re about to destroy with such precision any pretences for something raw, brutal and something wild.