C O L U M N S
Children of Bodom / Havok / Rhythm of Fear
Children of Bodom were probably ecstatic to escape Finland's frigid temperatures for the warmer Florida climate. The band has spent most of early February on a cruise ship in the Caribbean before heading slightly north to Tampa to kick start the "I Worship Chaos" North American leg of their world tour. The band are playing 11 shows this month with Havok before both acts join Megadeth and Suicidal Tendencies for the "Dystopia" tour through the end of March.
Even 23 year old veterans like COB have a few firsts every now and then. This one? It was their first time playing in Jacksonville, Florida - specifically what is known as the city's "Entertainment Elbow" nestled between the heart of downtown and the massive St. John's River. In a town that built legendary bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers and .38 Special, surely the "Hate Crew" were bound to leave their mark on the city.
Local crossover act Rhythm of Fear curtain jerked the show around 8PM. The homegrown favorites are a rich blend of Sepultura angst welded to a steel fabric of Whiplash. The band's guitar tone reminded me of Jon Schaffer's (Iced Earth) early rhythms on 1995's 'Burnt Offerings'. The start and stop complexity really made the band stand out. They announced a full-length album coming in March of this year with a record release party at the same venue.
The 1904 Music Hall holds a capacity of 200 people and by the time Denver, Colorado's Havok hit the stage at 9, the place was beer belly to beer belly packed. The thrashers scorched the stage with a furious set of eightish songs that highlighted the band's back catalogue. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist David Sanchez proved to be quite the showman, spending time between cuts thanking the city for the turnout, supporting a US Marine in the audience and also praising Rhythm of Fear's opening performance.
The group opened with the Exodus-like "Unnatural Selection" from the group's newest album of the same name. The group introduced a new song, "Claiming Certainty" (Unreleased), with a bit of religious criticism. I wrote down some of Sanchez's many intriguing quotes of the night, my favorite was - "Blind faith is a mental prison". He was also quick to point out "Have a fun time all of the time" before warning us of speedy driving with the explosive "D.O.A", the night's highlight for me. The mosh pit was fueled by the ravenous energy of "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death", "From the Cradle to the Grave" and "Point of No Return". The band's 2009 debut, 'Burn', was sadly left out of the live material but nevertheless the band stole the show. That is how thrash should look, feel and sound like.
As Havok pulled their gear to the song "Too Young to Afford Roadies", the crowd quickly scattered for final booze, nicotine and cotton by credit card. By 10PM the lights faded red and our Finnish troops entered the trenches. The band pronounced "Lights, Camera, Action" with a stout opener - "Are You Dead Yet". After the maniacal energy of Havok, the crowd seemed rather disenchanted with the group's rigid stage presence and lack of energy. That quickly dissipated by song number two ("Morrigan) and Alexi's jacket removal.
"Halo of Blood" launched the crowd into a frenzy and seemingly animated the band. The fast tempo solidified a pleasing but unfamiliar new song in "I Hurt" before the band tore the roof off with what is arguably their signature song - "Everytime I Die". The groovy intro and rhythm of the track was infectious and spilled over into "Hate Me!" and "Blooddrunk".
Those of you unsure of the band's longevity since the departure of original member Alexander Kuoppala last year need not worry. The new guy, guitarist Daniel Freyberg (Norther), seemed comfortable and relaxed filling Kuoppala's shoes. Alexi asked the crowd if they needed anything faster and was rewarded with a sweaty beer soaked crowd begging for "old stuff". The group answered with a rock bottom run of "Lake Bodom", "Silent Night, Bodom Night" and "Bodom after Midnight", the latter prompting some Iron Maiden like chorus chants from the audience and a true test for Freyberg who passed with flying colors.
The band's groove laden stomps are my favorite and along with "Everytime I Die" the group's penchant for hook was clearly evident with the rousing "Angels Don't Kill" and "Hate Crew Deathroll". I'm sure the group had a few more platters to serve but after 13 cuts and work begging for my bright due-diligence the next morning, I mozied out for a long dark walk to the garage. Overall this was another fantastic night for music in Jacksonville and a memorable night for metal fans. Jacksonville truly rocks.
Children of Bodom - www.cobhc.com
Havok - www.havokband.com
Rhythm of Fear - www.facebook.com/officialROF
1904 Music Hall - www.1904musichall.com
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