The Holidays creep up out of nowhere, making it a stressful time for many. Instead of joy, some feel sorrow, unable to avoid the season altogether. This all in mind, when the announcement was made of Children of Bodom’s return to North America via the I Worship Chaos 2016 Tour, Heavy Metal fans feeling the holiday blues were thrilled and relieved. Support from Norwegian Black Metal legend Abbath, California’s Exmortus, and Canada’s newcomers Oni made it a welcome Metal affair and holiday escape all in one.
The tour dates encompassed the entire holiday shopping season, beginning in late November and arrived at Irving Plaza in New York City on Sunday, December 18th, 2016 for the final night of the tour. The scheduled twenty-one show journey marked Children of Bodom’s second time around in support of their ninth album, I Worship Chaos, released in October of 2015 via Nuclear Blast Records. Although, this was in fact their first rightful headlining run, and a heap of anxious New York fans wore their festive black attire, ready to experience chaotic extravaganza.
The venue filled fast, as Oni graced the stage eager to present their debut, Ironshore. Forming in 2014, Oni are newcomers to the scene, recently springing up a buzz after touring with Cavalera Conspiracy back in October. It is not everyday that fans get to witness a Metal band perform with an enormous xylophone on the stage. However, Oni is a unique blend that surpasses expectations with their constant musical evolutions and innovative technical executions. As the aforementioned Ironshore was released towards the kickoff of the tour on November 25th, members Jake Oni (vocals), Martin Andres (guitar), Brandon White (guitar), Chase Bryant (bass), Joe Greulich (drums), and Johnny D (Xylo-Synth) were ready to give it their all.
Thirsty for Metal and wasting no time, they went into “Spawn and Feed” to kick off the chaos. Plunging away into their new tunes with “The Only Cure,” “Barn Burner,” and “Eternal Recurrence,” Oni captured the audience’s attention, impressing many in attendance. The aggression carried out until the end with “Thrive” and closed out with “Coast to Coast.” Thanking everyone for coming early to see them, Oni offered all to join them at the merchandise booth for further interaction. Touring overseas in early 2017, supporting Devil You Know, Oni will hopefully return to The States soon.
Rapidly amping up the crowd, Exmortus launched their set from the foundation of their 2014 Slave to the Sword album with “Immortality Made Flesh.” Bewitching the pleased audience, they blasted through new tunes “Death to Tyrants” and “For the Horde.” Known for incorporating classical arrangements into their tracks, Exmortus moved to their signature song, Beethoven’s Act 3 of “Moonlight Sonata.”
Conversing with fans, Gonzalez informed the crowd that there was one song left for them. The room reverberated with clapping as excited fans recognized their cover of Boston’s “Foreplay.” Embracing the devoted audience, Exmortus closed with “Metal Kings.” There will be much more to see for Exmortus in 2017, including tours with Havok and Warbringer.
The New York City crowd was ecstatic as the lights dimmed, leaving vaporized smoke cascading across the platform. A battlefield-like sound vibrated throughout the room with blood-red lights gleaming out to the Metal herd. Evident of the atmosphere change, Abbath’s supporting band members entered the stage wearing corpse paint and pitch-black leather apparel. Leading into Abbath’s blackened welcoming, fans cried out “Abbath! Abbath! Abbath!” The man himself made his god-like presence known, blasting into new tune “To War!”
Despite his demonic growls, Abbath charmed the fans with smiles of endearment. Bodies charged to the front of the pit during the Immortal classic “Nebular Ravens Winter,” from 1997’s Blizzard Beasts. Wondering who the warriors were in the crowd, they moved into the abrasive classic “Warriors,” taken from Abbath’s I project in 2006. Receiving a powerful response from the audience, Abbath embraced it with humor, sitting at the edge of the stage with an ever present evil grin.
The lights brightened during the humorous moments, and dimmed for “Ashes of the Damned.” Hell broke loose when Immortal classics came on back to back with “One By One” and “Tyrants,” from 2001’s Sons of Northern Darkness. Caught between mirth and Black Metal worship, fans were caught by surprise as the end of the set closed in with new tunes “Count the Dead” and “Winterbane.” Abbath is an iconic act, leaving all feeling happy despite the sore necks from all that headbanging.
Consistently releasing back to back admirable records including 1999’s Hatebreeder, it was 2003’s Hate Crew Deathroll which brought them into the global spotlight. Unexpectedly moving towards a mainstream status, their underground garage days became a distant memory. Presently continuing to celebrate one of their heaviest albums to date, I Worship Chaos, Children of Bodom were ready to rock New York City.
With video cameras in place, for a special live streaming of the show via Live Nation, Alexi Laiho (vocalist/lead guitar), Jaska Raatikainen (drums), Henkka Blacksmith (bass), Janne Wirman (keyboard), and newest member Daniel Freyberg (guitar) walked onto the stage in front of the joyful pack. Opening their set with classics “Needled 24/7,” “Follow the Reaper,” and “Living Dead Beat,” they ignited an endless sea of crowd-surfers. Laiho talked about performing in New York City for thirteen years, and fans replied with more “Bodom” chants. Laiho wanted to play a song that has never been done before in New York City, and went into “Trashed, Lost & Strungout.” After a handful of older tunes compelling the crowd with Laiho’s immaculate riffs and howling vocals, they moved into the fresh tune “Morrigan.”
Moving forward with belligerent speed, they went back to 2005 with “In Your Face” followed by the new track “My Bodom (I Am the Only One).” This had everyone’s head bobbing around the floor. Crowd-surfers continued to fly, keeping security guards busy. Children of Bodom went further back in time with “Everytime I Die.” Topping it off for the New York crowd, they went into the legendary “Silent Night, Bodom Night.” Powering through with a versatile play by play, crowd-surfers continued to fly during “I Worship Chaos.” A voluptuous sound, provoking fist-pumping in the air, “Angels Don’t Kill” kept the night progressing on a high note.
A vibrant set with a passionate performance of heavy songs, the crowd went crazy for “Lake Bodom.” Closing their set with “Children of Decadence,” the band left the entire venue screaming for more. Moments later, Children of Bodom returned for the encore. Thanking the devoted New York crowd, they closed the night with fan favorites “Hate Me!” and “Downfall.”
Children of Bodom mastered an evening of chaos with bands ranging from across the Metal map. One of the final shows of the year, this one gave 2016 a grand finale for those who attended. Having wrapped up the year, Children of Bodom are set to head overseas in early 2017 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Something Wild. Known for loving life on the road, it is only a matter of time before they return back to North America.