I couldn’t think of a better set of bands to be seeing on one of Salt Lake’s infamous dry, brisk winter nights — the lineup consisting of Abbath and Children of Bodom emulated the feelings of the cold, winter days in Scandinavia that fills their music.
The show took place in The Grand, the smaller of the two rooms at The Complex. Even with an audience barely reaching three-quarters capacity, it was no doubt entertaining.
Just before Abbath graced the stage with his domineering Norwegian black metal presence, a rally of war drums reverberated out of the speakers as flashes of blood red lights flooded the stage. Abbath’s backup band, clad in their signature corpse paint, skin-tight leather pants and almost perfectly flowing black hair, had all stepped out on the stage. Then entered the godfather of Norwegian black metal with makeshift battle armor and his signature hourglass corpse paint: frontman Abbath Doom Occulta engulfed the microphone with his demonic vocals and kicked right into “To War!”
Although it was Abbath performing, seven of the 12 songs in his set consisted of Immortal covers including “Nebular Ravens Winter,” “Tyrants” and “In My Kingdom Cold.” No one complained of course; in fact, the pit’s gravitas pulled more people in with every song. The crowd’s excitement carried over in between songs as Abbath had a little ‘back and forth’ with the audience including chanting Utah — pronouncing it Ooh-tah.
What struck me most about Abbath’s set was the concision of the lighting and stage presence. Black metal has always consisted of a brooding, uncomfortable atmosphere which easily makes it one of the most esoteric subgenres to listen to, but Abbath’s set had such a menacing intricacy about it that looking away was almost impossible.
It was about time for Children of Bodom to take the stage. I haven’t listened to Bodom since I was in high school and upon the approach of this show I pulled out my old copies of “Hate Crew Deathroll,” “Hatebreeder,” “Follow the Reaper” and “Are You Dead Yet?” and was reminded of why I loved these guys so much.
The crowd grew more restless with every “Bodom!” chant while a swell of rumbling sounds purred throughout the venue. The five members of Bodom walked out onstage. After a 1-2-3-4 count from drummer Jaska Raatikainen, Bodom pounded right into “Needled 24/7” which fittingly enough was the first song I ever heard by them.
They followed directly with “Follow the Reaper” and “Living Dead Beat,” before gracing the audience with the live rarity “Trashed, Lost & Strungout,” marking its debut performance in SLC. Bodom played a set consisting mainly of classics like “Everytime I Die,” “Silent Night, Bodom Night,” “Angels Don’t Kill” and “Lake Bodom.” The only exceptions were three tracks from their latest album “I Worship Chaos,” “Morrigan” and “My Bodom (I Am the Only One).”
The mosh pits came in waves — they’d be really big or really small, but when the singer advocates for one it gets everyone riled up.
Bodom concluded their set with “Children of Decadence.” They didn’t even walk off the stage before people started chanting “Bodom” all over again. After a couple of minutes, they returned to the stage to play “Hate Me!” and “Downfall” as the show closers and everyone went ballistic.
Children of Bodom have been coming to SLC for 13 years. Aside from mild disappointment due to the absence of “Sixpounder” and “Are You Dead Yet?” from their setlist, Bodom delivered an unhinged performance. The attendees consisting of older die-hards and the new generation of teenage headbangers all left maybe a bit sore and a bit drunk in some cases, but content nonetheless.