Children of Bodom
A crowd of around 500 fans gathered at the Observatory in Santa Ana last night to revel in the heavy metal madness created by Finland's Children of Bodom, along with special guests Death Angel and Tyr.
The center of the pit reeked of beer, sweat, and cannabis, as bodies began to sway when the lights went out for the headlining band, whose melodic death metal neo-classical speed metal hybrid has won over masses of fans world wide, including many in the audience at the Observatory.
The energy that was put out by lead singer and guitar virtuoso Alexi Laiho, along with additional guitarist Roope Latvala, keyboard player Janne Warman, drummer Jaska Raatikainen, and bassist Henkka Blacksmith was throbbing with speed and aggression. The Observatory was not quite sold out, but close to it, with the front center area making for a nice circle pit during most of Bodom's 75-minute set.
Heads were banging at a constant rate, and the diverse mix of punk, thrash, power metal, black metal and death metal lovers all mingled into a cohesive audience. The circle pit had its moments, but most of slam dancing happened because the group of knuckleheads with no shirts, bald heads and tattoos; along with the thrasher kids wearing DRI and Municipal Waste shirts and baseball caps. During the show, a very bright color light pattern on the strobe light included flashes of bright red and neon green, causing a dysrythmia in the circle pit among the disoriented slam dancers.
Children of Bodom came on the underground metal scene in 1997, and early on had a more distinct, symphonic black metal sound but later evolved into a hybrid of melodic death metal and elements of speed metal, folk and classical, to become one of metal's biggest acts out of Finland, having successfully toured the world with the likes of Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb of God, Fear Factory and tons of other heavy hitters. The band headlined the second stage of last summer's Rockstar Mayhem Festival.
Tonight, the band played a well-balanced set, including songs off of most of their full-length albums, including "Towards Dead End" (from 1999's Hatebreeder), and the self- titled song and "Scream for Silence," (from 2013's Halo of Blood).
Bay area thrash band Death Angel performed before Children of Bodom, and served as a good warm up, getting a slight pit for some of the faster songs. Death Angel was one of the key bands in the SF Bay Area thrash metal movement of the mid to late '80s, and were peers with bands such as Exodus, Metallica, Testament and others. With a classic thrash metal assault, the band's sound of thunderous bass and rapid fire drums had heads banging and fists pumping for most of the band's hour long set of Northern California Bay Area thrash metal at its finest.
Death Angel mixed up their set, with classic songs such as "Mistress of Pain," from the debut 1987 album, "The Ultra Violence," as well as newer songs, such as the self-titled album song from last year's The Dream Calls for Blood.
"We want to thank all of you for coming out tonight!" yelled lead vocalist Mark Osegueda to the crowd. "But most of all Santa Ana, we want to thank you for the inspiration over all these years. Back in the day, they wouldn't always let thrash bands like us play in Hollywood, and so we had to play out here, in Orange County. Some of the most amazing shows have been in this area!"
Children of Bodom Set List
2.Living Dead Beat
3.Bodom Beach Terror
4.Halo of Blood
5.Scream for Silence
6.Hate Crew Deathroll
8.Follow The Reaper
9.Deadman's Hand On You
10.Are You Dead Yet?
12.Angels Don't Kill
13.Towards Dead End
16.In Your face
Critical Bias: One added benefit for males attending any Children of Bodom show (including tonight in Santa Ana): many hot chics into metal LOVE this band, and in particular lead singer/guitarist Alexi Laiho. Whether its his long blond hair, pale, smooth looking face or guitar playing talent, girls at the band's shows often go crazy for this dude, screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs. Previous shows have even included several devoted females throwing bras and panties onstage.
The Crowd: A diverse crowd for a metal show, equal mix of youngsters and old school heads at this all ages show. There were of course OC bros and punks, longhaired thrashers in denim and tons of various metal heads and punks, sporting shirts ranging from bands like Pantera and Bad Religion to Wintersun and everyone in between.
Overheard: "Yah, there is no group discount for my friends, and me since we are all from Finland to see this band," said a man in a European accent, with a group of tourists at the ticket window of the Observatory, as his friends erupted into laughter. 'No sorry,' the man behind the window said. "Welcome to America!" some metal head behind him in line a few spots back yelled.
Random Notebook Dump:
"OK that's it, whose got the Devil's Lettuce?! I can smell it from here, someone in here is smoking that weed!" yelled a shirtless tattooed drunk bro to his friends in the pit, just before Children of Bodom took the stage, as the pot smoke wafted through the air.