Children of Bodom/Havok/Widower – Austin, Tx February 19, 2016

Austin, Tx apparently likes its metal fast, as could be seen by the number of people that showed up to The Legendary Scoot Inn on Friday, February 19th. Black t-shirts could be seen in every direction, many emblazoned with the logo of the headlining band, Children Of Bodom. Known just as much for their relentless tour schedules as they are for their musicianship, Children Of Bodom are currently in the North American leg of their “I Worship Chaos World Tour,” promoting their latest album.

 In Austin, CoB were accompanied by tour mates, thrashers Havok from Denver, Colorado. The Legendary Scoot Inn has played host to some of the biggest metal events during the annual music portion of SXSW. With its outdoor stage and large courtyard (complete with full bar service in the back), The Scoot Inn was the perfect battleground for the sonic assault that was about to occur.

Bodom_Austin

Starting the night on a pretty heavy note were local blackened thrash outfit Widower. Almost immediately, the crowd was captivated by the furious riffing and shrieked vocals. The Kreator-meets-Nifelheim vibes that Widower gave off slowly brought those lingering in the back portion of the courtyard to the front, curious to see who was making such awesomely evil-sounding music. Although there were plenty of yells from the crowd between songs and copious amounts of alcohol were consumed, there was no mosh pit just yet. The connection between band and crowd was obvious, as Widower stormed across the stage like seasoned veterans, with audience members whispering to each other between songs “holy shit, these guys are local?!” The blasting drums, speedy guitars and bass, and blackened vocals pummeled the crowd with a demonic fury, leaving the audience looking somewhat shellshocked when the set was finished.

Up next were Denver’s classic thrash disciples, Havok. These days many young thrash bands prefer to play something more akin to the crossover variety thrash, which owes its sound just as much to punk as it does metal. That’s not Havok, as they could easily be mistaken for a band that began back in the genre’s heyday. Having continued to loosen up (and grow), the crowd became more lively during their set, with circle pits opening up and fans yelling along to the lyrics. I hadn’t heard Havok before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Classic Testament and Exodus-sounding riffs galore were topped by higher-pitched yells reminiscent of Zetro from Exodus. Like many of the early thrash bands, Havok seemed to have a political edge to their lyrics, confirmed by vocalist/guitarist David Sanchez’s stage banter, which at one point went into a speech critical of organized religion. The quick remarks seemed to break up the flow of their set a little, since the crowd seemed more interested in banging their heads and brutalizing each other in the pit, even if there were a number of cheers after Sanchez’s statement about religion.

It was finally time for the very anticipated arrival of Children Of Bodom to the stage.

When the first song started, and the band appeared, the crowd reaction was near rapturous. Beginning with some older numbers before transitioning into tracks off the band’s latest release, they put together a set-list that would make even the most casual fan happy. The band’s sound and tight musicianship was jaw-dropping; even with the recent addition of rhythm guitarist Daniel Freyberg, CoB sounded just as good in person as they do on their records. Hell, maybe they sounded a little better, as the playful dueling between Alexi’s guitar leads and keyboardist Janne’s solos were impressive.

By the middle of the set the crowd had reached critical mass, and there was a permanent spot cleared out for the circle pit that seemed to not even close up between songs. In keeping true with the name of the tour, CoB’s set had a chaotic (albeit FUN) feel to it, with the crowd cheering, moshing, and banging their heads as if it were the last metal show on the planet. When CoB came back out for an encore, they played a particular favorite of mine, “Hate Crew Death Roll.” Judging by the deafening roar from the crowd when this song was announced, many of the audience members were waiting for a track or two off that particular album as well. CoB’s set did not disappoint, and despite the amount of time onstage, it was pretty awesome seeing a band who has been active this long not lose any steam. The musicianship was flashy, without feeling self-indulgent, and Alexi took several opportunities to greet the crowd between songs, and get everyone pumped.

By the end of CoB’s set it felt like I had run a marathon, thanks to the relentless wave of fast riffs that each band pummeled the audience with. Children Of Bodom never cease to impress, but I was also taken by surprise by Havok, despite the mildly preachy nature of their set. Local support Widower were met with a great response as well, and proved to be the heaviest act of the night. A solid show, overall, and a night many Austin metalheads aren’t likely to forget anytime soon.

Setlist

  1. Are You Dead Yet?
  2.  In Your Face
  3. Morrigan
  4. Halo of Blood
  5. I Hurt
  6. Everytime I Die
  7.  Hate Me!
  8. Blooddrunk
  9. I Worship Chaos
  10. Angels Don’t Kill
  11. Lake Bodom
  12. Silent Night, Bodom Night
  13. Bodom After Midnight
  14. Hate Crew Deathroll
  15. Needled 24/7
  16. Downfall