Live Reviews : Children Of Bodom, Eye Of The Enemy & Orpheus Omega @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 07/05/2014
Images: Len Panecki
Words: Jonathon Besanko
With a COBHC banner decorating the stage at the back (which if you know Children of Bodom stands for the Bodom ‘Hate Crew’, a term originating off their 2003 album Hate Crew Deathroll basically as a way to collectively group Children of Bodom and its fans into one big happy – or should it be abhorrent? – COB family), I knew I was in for an awesome night! As always 170 Russell drew a crowd both wide and varied. No doubt in part due to Children of Bodom’s virtual universality as a metal band. There’s pretty much not a metalhead alive that doesn’t know their name, and interestingly enough, while by no stretch to the degree of names like Metallica, regardless, there is still a wide breadth of people that aren’t necessarily metalheads that know the name also. Bodom has become that well-known, and upon seeing the Finnish melodic death metal legends tonight, it’s by no stretch of the imagination hard to see why.
Opening the night was Orpheus Omega who took to the stage at 8.30 pm. While as always, Orpheus Omega gave the performance their all, they were unfortunately hindered to a fair degree by a variety of sound problems that flourished during the early stages of the evening. One of the more obvious and consistent issues was keytarist Keswick Gallagher’s mic. More often than not, it was a bit too over pitched. It screeched on a number of occasions, affecting the integrity of Orpheus’ set. While I’m not necessarily pointing the finger at anyone in particular here (as there could have been a number of factors that contributed to this), it is a shame that it affected Orpheus Omega’s sound as much as it did. For the first half of their set the sound was uneven. The mic’s would fluctuate from being too high to too low, and at other stages there was occasional problems with the amps for both Gallagher’s keytar, and at one point, frontman Chris Themelco’s guitar as well.
With that being said, however, I do give the Orpheus Omega boys kudos. Despite the sound issues, they didn’t let it tie them down and continued to play on. With Chris continually crying out such things as ‘I wanna see you bang those fucking heads. C’mon!’ despite the humble beginnings for the crowd Orpheus managed to build up a decent headbang. And there’s no denying Chris’ charisma. One of the best parts was when he yelled out, ‘Melbourne, make some noise! [It’s] fucking so good to hear so many people here tonight.’
The lighting used for tonight was a definite highlight, however. And the light engineers more than pulled their weight for the evening, with every act on the night feeling separate from one another, thanks in part to unique colour schemes and lighting effects that were set up for each band. In Orpheus Omega’s set alone, we were treated to an array of effects and gorgeous colour combinations that at times consisted of strobes of green and blue light on songs like “Elegant Deceit” and at others beams that rippled white around the band as the flashing lights were timed also to drummer Matt Themelco’s pounding double-kicks.
It was around the midway mark with “De6enerate” that Orpheus Omega began to find their feet. With the sound issues largely fixed by this stage, it only improved from this point forward. And it was great to see and hear the Melbourne melodic death metallers shining once again. This was the Orpheus Omega I know and love.
‘You guys doing alright out there?’ asked Chris before being met by strong applause. ‘That’s what I like to hear! Let’s see you jumping!’
As “Fragments” clawed its way in afterwards, Gallagher’s keys and vocals were at their strongest here. And man, when things kicked in for these guys, Gallagher killed it! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing Orpheus Omega live before, you’d know Gallagher is known for his rather crazy onstage antics, and now that the sound had been repaired, his groove really came into its own. He’d jump about, his hair bouncing around like a mop, and he and bassist Dan Ralph would alternate between running around the stage and ripping out notes in front of one another. It was an awesome thing to watch.
Closing as they always do, Chris announced, ‘if you’ve ever been to our past shows, you’ll know what do here. This is the part where you move the fuck around!’ before splitting the pit apart to create a death circle, ushering in the single “Sealed In Fate” off their 2011 debut Bleed the Way.
While a bit of a rocky start, things recovered well, and Orpheus Omega ended on a high note.
Whilst emerging on stage a little bit after they were due to start, this slight delay was well worth it as Eye of the Enemy slaughtered when they came out on stage (and I mean that in the best way possible). And even with this small delay, Darth Vader shirt wearing frontman Julian Detar’s appeal was infectious, with people even happily cheering his vocal sound checks! So it didn’t matter all too much.
Being the national support for the Halo Of Blood Over Australia tour, I was looking forward to seeing these guys again, having only ever caught Eye of the Enemy live once back in 2012 when they opened for Amon Amarth (funnily enough, the same night I also saw Orpheus Omega for the first time), and I remember how awesome they were back then too. From the outset, Eye of the Enemy’s sound was much cleaner and balanced than Orpheus Omega’s (and by ‘clean’ I mean the mic wasn’t crackling and the sound was evened out). The bit of extra time taken made all the difference and helped make Eye of the Enemy’s sound an absolute beast of a thing. Bathed in blues and reds, Eye of the Enemy sounded fantastic, and in my honest opinion, were a definite contestant for best act of the evening – even coming up against Bodom. That’s quite an achievement in my mind that an opener could contest the headliner.
With galloping rhythms weaving their way throughout their set, it was further complemented by Detar’s punishing vocals. Eye of the Enemy were warmly received by the audience and there was a real ‘spark’ to Detar and the boys onstage. Ever the charming fellows, you could tell they loved what they were doing. Detar then went on to say, ‘How the fuck are you, Melbourne?!’ – screams filled the venue – ‘It’s been a while. [We’ve] been recording the new album. But it’s good to be back.’
With a great deal of power and ferocity behind their music, it was both melodic and accessible. The rhythms were catchy and enjoyable as all hell and it made it all the more easier to be swept up in their aura.
While there were moments where Detar’s vocals would cut out prematurely during the drawn out screeches, it wasn’t a massive hindrance on them. Bolstered by the hefty weight of Eye of the Enemy’s rhythm section, there wasn’t a dry moment throughout and they were given a very warm send off.
Solid and uncompromising, Detar went on to say, ‘Thank you, Melbourne. You rocked the fuck out!’
Charging out onto the stage, Children of Bodom opened with a bang with “Sixpounder”. Under the white light, the arpeggio king himself Alexi Laiho shredded up a storm as the band led into “Living Dead Beat” and “Bodom Beach Terror”. Playing a variety of tracks from across their whole catalogue, Children of Bodom began strong and didn’t let up for the rest of the night. Garnering full venue claps, the pit just exploded when these guys came out.
‘Holy fuck, Melbourne. How the fuck are you!?’ Alexi cried out. ‘We are so glad to be back. Thank you so much for coming out. We fucking love you guys!’ Unsurprisingly, euphoric screams filled the venue following this remark. ‘You guys ready to party!?’
Bodom held sway over the crowd, tethering them in with their undeniable energy and expert musicianship. Not only were these guys excellent musicians but they were also incredible showmen, with Alexi continually engaging with the crowd and thanking us for giving them such a warm welcome.
Judging by their playing on the night though, the welcome was more than justified. Bodom was amazing and the response from the audience was even more so.
While by no means to the detriment of the other members of the band, keyboardist Janne Viljami “Warman” Wirman was a highlight of the evening for me. With his fingers sweeping over the keys like some sort of mage casting a spell, Wirman served as the backbone of the night; his keys ringing through with gorgeous clarity – especially on later tracks like “Angels Don’t Kill”, a personal favourite of mine.
Each member gave the performance their all, however, and donning a Dracula tee based on the campy gold that is Sir Christopher Lee’s Hammer Horror flicks, guitarist Roope Latvala’s solos were outstanding; at times a buffer to Alexi’s own and at many others standing proudly on its own as a moment of brilliance. When Latvala would emerge centre-stage from off the side, all eyes were on him. He owned it in every sense.
Garnering one of the best responses from an international act I’ve heard, under lights of gold, purple, and green, Bodom had the audience utterly ensorcelled by their spell.
As a monster emerging from its slumber, before leading into “Hate Crew Deathroll”, Alexi announced, ‘Melbourne Hate Crew, I wanna see the biggest, craziest, insanest mosh pit! Can you do that, friends?’ followed by cries of ‘yeah!’
Overwhelming cheer continued throughout and Children of Bodom were flawless. Studio quality shit right here, folks.
Leading into their older tracks, Alexi asked, ‘Who of you fucking wants to hear some old shit? We’re gonna take you back to 1997’ as they led into the awesome song “Lake Bodom” off their debut album Something Wild. Melodic death metal happily ensnared my ears on this one and I alongside many others found ourselves headbanging wildly. It was a blast!
Children of Bodom only grew from strength to strength as the night went on with songs like “Are You Dead Yet?” and “Towards Dead End / Hate Me” serving to rouse the crowd in further riotous bouts of jumping, headbanging, and excellent bouts of band-crowd interaction. Bassist Henri “Henkka T. Blacksmith” Seppälä and drummer Jaska Raatikainen both sounded excellent on these tracks, with Seppälä’s bass notes in particular coursing through the venue and creating quite a thunderous beat.
Clearly showing the love they have for their fans, Alexi went on to say before the final track “Downfall” (which was boss, by the way!), ‘You guys have been more than a fucking amazing crowd. Give yourselves a round of applause. I love you!’ Wirman then went on to take a video of the crowd for a friend’s wedding we were told, but Alexi jokingly said, ‘I don’t even know what to say to this shit!’ and everyone laughed.
Ushering in the encore, police sirens and red-and-blue lighting heralded in the track “In Your Face” off Are You Dead Yet?, a song displaying the typical abrasive side to Bodom’s lyrics that people know and love. With lines like ‘I don’t give a flying fuck, motherfucker!’ the crowd happily sang along with Alexi to it. And after all, isn’t that why we go to gigs in the first place? To scream out shit and go nuts where regular society dictates we shouldn’t.
With the melodious interludes slicing through the audience, Wirman’s keys fluttered overhead building further the wonderful atmosphere he’d established across the night. And as Alexi charged all over the stage, he continued to rip out many of his famous power-chords showing himself to be the guitar god he’s so revered as. The band just felt so in-sync and it translated beautifully into their stage presence.
Crying out, ‘Let me see those fucking horns in the air!’ Alexi then made a joke that their sound needed ‘more cowbell’, referencing the classic Saturday Night Live skit. As the night drew to a close, Alexi thanked the audience one last time, saying, ‘Once again, thank you. You guys were off the hook! We love you!’
A fitting close to what was one hell of a good night.
About Jonathon BesankoJonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.
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