CHILDREN OF BODOM: Jättikeikka – Kaisaniemenpuisto, Helsinki, 23.08.2019

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Children of Bodom certainly needs no introduction these days. Known for shredding riffs that hit hard and heavy, in recent years, Bodom has been doing new things to shake us up, such as having an anniversary tour, and now, headlining this jättikeikka [giant gig] at Kaisaniemi Park in Helsinki. The event went down on August 23rd, 2019, and hosted not only these local favorites, but their new de facto openers, Lost Society, as well as Hardcore Superstar and, of all things, Swedish doom metal favorites Katatonia. There had been the biggest rainstorm of the year the night before, so we hoped that the weather would stay mild.

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The gates to the park opened at 15:30 and right around when Lost Society was meant to take the stage, the skies opened back up and did their utmost to ensure that every single person was soaked right down to their bones. Lost Society, of course, didn’t let them hold back one little bit. Songs like “My Prophecy,” “Deliver Me,” “No Absolution,” and “Riot” did their job to warm up the crowd and our cold bones, and about midway through the set, Ossi Paananen was able to do a drum solo. While it’s getting a bit old to have Lost Society opening for Bodom (no matter how appropriate the pairing is), it’s nevertheless always fun to see these guys out there killing it and having a blast on stage.

Next up was Hardcore Superstar, though the rain wasn’t quite so hardcore anymore. Their set was part of the You Can’t Kill My Rock n’ Roll Tour in support of their likewise-named album from last year, though – at least as far as I noticed – they only played a very small selection of songs from the new album. “Electric Rider” and the album’s title track, “You Can’t Kill My Rock n’ Roll,” were both played in support of the new music. Most of the rest of the setlist coming from 2009-2011, including material like “We Don’t Celebrate Sundays” and “Kick on the Upper Class,” and 2013’s “Above the Law” was the last of the night.

As for their performance, they didn’t quite have the energy of Lost Society (but really, the LS guys are in their early 20s so no one should be surprised), but their brand of Swedish sleaze rock still managed to keep the crowd moving and held the cold at bay by allowing everyone to go a bit wild.

Katatonia was next up, promising to play the entirety of their 2009 release, Night is the New Day, with this being the 10 year anniversary of the album. While not my personal favorite in their repertoire, Katatonia is nevertheless always fun to see live, and for a change, the rain from earlier had left behind a bit of gloom in the air, which suited their atmosphere nicely as the day began to dim. Jonas Renkse has one of the best voices in Sweden, and as far as it’s possible to say regarding songs that I don’t know so well, he was doing a great job. The haunting, eerire qualities of his voice are always fantastic to hear and this night was no different. And as per usual, despite the gloomier sound this band is known for, their shows always feel a bit like there’s still some sort of dance party going on. It’s not mosh music, but at the same time, you’re never content to just sit back and bob your head; you need to move! They finished up their set with a cover of Judas Priest’s “Night Come Down” – which was a new one for me! – and said their goodbyes. Here’s hoping they have another club gig in Finland soon!

Naturally, the night’s finale were local guitar heroes Children of Bodom. On their own soil, these guy tend to be pretty hit or miss live, ranging between completely burnt out and sloppy to severely on fire. Fortunately for everyone in attendance, this was one of the latter gigs. They kicked off their set with the classic “Needled 24/7” and followed it with “Hate Me!” from Follow the Reaper (2000). While the show was rife with pyrotechnics that helped warm up the crowd, it was of course the massive muddy moshpits that really helped keep everyone warm. If a single person in the crowd went home dry and clean, I’ll eat my hat.

The special event of the night was when Bodom received a gold record for their second-last album, I Worship Chaos from 2015. To celebrate, naturally, they played the title track from the album, but this was only halfway through their set, so there was still plenty of time to go. They continued on with “This Road,” “Every Time I Die,” and “Downfall.” It’s always nice to see these guys in peak formation, and while Daniel Freyberg is no Roope Latvala on the guitar, he nevertheless does an admirable job of his parts.

They finished up the main set with “If You Want Peace… Prepare for War” but you’ll bet your cold, muddy behind that they weren’t done yet. They were raucously cheered back for three more songs: “Living Dead Beat,” “Are You Dead Yet?,” and much to our surprise, a cover of the Dropkick Murphys song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” with none other than Lost Society as their special guests on stage. It goes without saying, but this definitely left the night on a high note.

 

All-in-all, this was a pretty fantastic night of rain, mud, and metal. While each band had their own place in the set, Bodom managed to still be the main event and held up to their own standards. While the organization of the event was a little weird (they didn’t chase the photographers out of the pit during the pyros, which is extremely dangerous and very strange), it was overall a great night and a nice return to Kaisaniemi Park (where Tuska Open Air was held long ago).

Photos: Miia Collander

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