You’ve gotta love a good metal show, and last Friday was one of the best ones I’ve seen in a while. It was the last stop on Finnish speed metal icon Children of Bodom’s 20 Years Down and Dirty trek. I walked into the Corona Theatre and was warmly greeted by our own jovial staff photographer Danny, who was in the process of giving heavy congratulations to a couple of members of the opening group Uncured who had just happened to be passing by. I didn’t catch their set, but Danny assured me (and them) that it was awesome.
Lost Society announced themselves with the screech of harmonics before diving into their ripping set of 80s-style hardcore thrash. This young band, also from Finland, showed off some awesome shredding skills and strong, charismatic stage presence. They even had the balls to incite a wall of death, which turned into the biggest pit of the evening. Samy Elbanna controlled the crowd and the songs with a menacing bark. Many clap-alongs were incited, though it was often difficult to keep up with the shifting tempos. Their live rendition of “I Am the Antidote” from their latest release Braindead was probably the heaviest moment of the night.
The tonal shift between Lost Society and Carach Angren was a sharp one; the former a group of young kids with long hair and jeans, and the latter a symphonic black metal band dressed with full-on corpse paint in the midst of a stage full of creepy goodies. The speakers began blaring their creepy intro music a solid five minutes before they started playing. I guess they wanted to let people finish smoking. What a bunch of good dudes. Their visual antics were entertaining enough. The keyboardist’s stand had a skeleton face on it and it moved, and ghost-like silhouettes populated the stage’s back drop. Musically, it was the kind of thing that might make one say, ” Yes, I too am familiar with minor scales.” One song was about being twelve years old and discovering your dead mother with slit wrists in a bathtub, or something. You know, black metal stuff.
The guys in Children of Bodom have always had a unique way of setting themselves up on a stage, and this show was no exception. The drum riser was not located in the middle of the stage but on the left (or stage right, if you’re into being picky), and the keyboard flanked the other side. Janne Wirman displayed his keyboard at a 90-degree angle so that the crowd could watch him play every dizzying lick. Alexi Laiho, the gaunt and pale leader who, incidentally, was probably responsible for introducing as many kids to classical music as to metal, stood front and center. He held his signature V-neck guitar upright upon his knee and played impossible riffs and solos, all while unleashing his banshee wail into the microphone.
The set was entirely populated with songs from their first four records, the run widely considered to embody their “classic” sound. Songs like “Warheart,” “Hate Crew Deathroll” and of course “Children of Bodom” kept the mosh pit active, and the players were in top form. They each got a chance to address the crowd though they kept it brief, choosing mainly to focus on how happy they were to have Montreal as a final stop. Laiho joked with Wirman that he was unfamiliar with the E Minor scale before the latter began playing “Bed of Razors.” The crowd waned before they came back out to give their encore, but those who stayed for the finale of “Towards Dead End” no doubt continued to singalong to that tune long after the lights had come back on.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson