A chapter ended in Finnish metal history on December 15th, 2019. Some of the biggest news of the year involved the sudden departure of Henkka T. Blacksmith, Jaska Raatikainen, and Janne Wirman from their long-time band, Children of Bodom, leaving guitarist/vocalist Alexi Laiho as the only remaining original member of the band. Dubbing their farewell show A Chapter Called Children Of Bodom, the show took place at the Helsinki Ice Hall with local prog metal favorites, Wheel.
Bear: Wheel was right about on time at 19:00, starting right off with “Lacking” and “Vultures” from their debut, Moving Backwards. The show got off to a bit of a shaky start – perhaps due to some nerves – but nevertheless these guys really know their material these days and sound so good. The dark, hood-clad band had the same formation they’ve more or less maintained throughout the year on stage, but still stay energetic enough on stage that the show didn’t become sluggish. As much as it’s easy to adore the whole band, their bass-driven soundscape, as held up by Santeri Saksala on drums and new(ish) bassist Aki Virta really set the mood wonderfully to help the vocals and guitars soar.
It was a bit of a shame that the sound quality at Jäähalli wasn’t as good as it should have been for a band with music this complex. Some of the nuances of their music was lost in the loudness of the ice hall that just became noise. While Wheel had no trouble performing for a stadium, it feels more appropriate to see them in a club or even a castle. As well, the lighting was interesting in the way the lights moved but it was a very dark show. On a few occasions it created nice silhouettes or lit up Saksala well, but on the whole the band ended up being rather hard to see.
James Lascelles [vocals/guitar] spoke to the crowd a few times, gave a shout-out to Children of Bodom, and their title track as their final song. It was definitely a favorite among our group and a highlight of the night, as well as a great closing track. While it wasn’t our favorite show by the band this year (granted, Opera Festival Rocks was very hard to top), it’s always great to have the chance to see Wheel and we were pleased to see that quite a lot of the crowd showed up in time to check them out!
5. Where the Pieces Lie
Essi: As Wheel ended their set, a familiar sight began to appear on stage. Children of Bodom‘s characteristic barrels were already decorating the corners of the stage, but soon a familiar car’s carcass was revealed between the drumset and keyboards, previously hidden beneath a sheet. The backdrop referring to the newest album, Hexed, was also hung, but we sensed that it wouldn’t stay there the whole night. After all, this wasn’t a show to promote the new album, but to say goodbye.
Judging by the audience, this farewell party would be unforgettable. Although the announcement about the final gig had come in the beginning of November on somewhat short notice, fans had still come from all over the world; for example, there were attendees from Germany, Russia, Japan, Scotland, Italy, and Argentina. As the time drew near the announced show time, the audience began clapping and shouting for Bodom.
As the gig started, it felt unreal knowing that this would be the last time I’d hear several personally meaningful songs live (at least played by this squad), making me feel melancholic. My journey with Children of Bodom began in 2006 with their Britney Spears cover. Now, 14 years later, this journey would have a worthy end as this Ice Hall gig would be my 25th live encounter with Children of Bodom.
The band began their set with “Under Grass and Clover” and “Platitudes and Barren Words,” both from Hexed. After these songs, the backdrop was dropped and familiar COB -letters started to flash in bulbed background lights to the pace of “In Your Face.”
Before the show I had hoped that this night would entail something special: maybe we would hear some rarely played songs or the remaining pyros from the band’s inventory would shed light on this night. None of my wishes came true – and I’m glad they didn’t because in the end, no special tricks were needed. The band was certainly in their element. The songs were played with the same precision and attitude as always, and familiar mannerism were seen during certain songs. “Angels Don’t Kill” slowed down during the final notes, Janne Wirman gave out drum sticks during “Bodom Beach Terror” and played the solo for “Needled 24/7” side-by-side with Alexi Laiho.
Between the songs, Laiho kept his speeches short and simple as always. Wirman did his part too, confessing to playing “Blooddrunk” in the wrong key and wearing the wrong shirt to the show. On the later half of the gig, Laiho took a moment to thank the departing band members.
Children of Bodom played material from each of their 10 albums, saving some of the most popular classics to the end of the set. The encore consisted of “Hate Me,” “Hate Crew Deathroll,” “Lake “Bodom,” and “Downfall.” Those last three songs went by too quickly by as I was headbanging, singing… and crying.
As the final notes of “Downfall” ended, the band gathered on the stage for one final photo with the audience. As the other members left the stage accompanied by the outro, Jaska Raatikainen returned to the stage to thank the fans for the past 20+ years. If the audience was filled with emotions, so was Raatikainen, who had to turn away from the microphone several times to pull himself together. After Raatikainen left the stage, declaring that he would miss this audience so much, the clapping and shouting went on as “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)” turned into the main title music from HBO’s Band of Brothers. “We want more” shouts were heard for longer than ever as the tour crew handed out drumsticks and picks to the front row.
At last, the lights in the Ice Hall came on and the fans had to accept that the show was really over.
Children of Bodom setlist:
1. Under Grass and Clover
2. Platitudes and Barren Words
3. In Your Face
4. Shovel Knockout
5. Bodom Beach Terror
6. Everytime I Die
7. Halo of Blood
8. Are You Dead Yet?
10. I Worship Chaos
11. Angels Don’t Kill
12. Follow the Reaper
13. Deadnight Warrior
14. Needled 24/7
15. Hate Me
16. Hate Crew Deathroll
17. Lake Bodom
Outro: (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party) – Beastie Boys
Outro: Main Titles from the HBO Mini-Series Band of Brothers – Michael Kamen
I doubt there is any need to further justify what Children of Bodom means to Finnish metal music. The three members now leaving the band behind have been a part of creating an amazing tale for over 20 years now. It will be interesting to see what kind of plans Alexi and Daniel have with their new (currently) unannounced band members. Children of Bodom got the ending they deserved while giving space for something totally new.
Thank you Janne, Jaska, and Henkka. Thank you Children of Bodom.
We were the Hate Crew.
Photos: Sami Hinkkanen