Children Of Bodom, Swallow The Sun and more at The Masquerade (2019)

The Masquerade (Atlanta, GA USA)

Children Of Bodom, Swallow The Sun, Wolfheart, Summoner's Circle,
On Thursday, April 12th of 2019 myself and fellow writer/interviewer BRIAN MORTON attended CHILDREN OF […]
By Justin Wittenmeier (Review) , Brian Morton (Photos)
April 12, 2019

On Thursday, April 12th of 2019 myself and fellow writer/interviewer BRIAN MORTON attended CHILDREN OF BODOM's "Hexed" tour at The Masquerade in Atlanta, GA.  SUMMONER'S CIRCLE, WOLFHEART, and SWALLOW THE SUN were the other three bands playing at the venue.
  The Masquerade is an unique venue, located in a somewhat hard to find spot in the middle of Atlanta.  The venue itself is in a section of the city known as the "Atlanta Underground," because, well, it is underground.  Much like entering a subway station, you walk down to the The Masquerade down some stairs, reaching an area that has shops on either side sitting up a nice little cobblestone road that acts much like a smaller version of street you might find on a city square.  However, the sky above isn't enclosed—you can look up and see the night's sky.  "Heaven," "Hell," and "Purgatory," are the three bars/stages in which bands play in, each one kind of like its own separate establishment.  The "Hexed" tour made their stop at "Heaven".Inside "Heaven" there is basically just standing room.  To your right is a bar with a few stools and to the left is the merch table.  I was somewhat disappointed in the t shirts available, especially for BODOM.  I'm not sure if by this time in the tour most of their stuff had been sold or there just wasn't enough to begin with but they only had two shirts to choose from.  WOLFHEART and STS had more selection however they were sold out of most sizes under XL.  I realize none of this is the fault of the bands; I'm just pointing it out.   Still, the prices for all the band's merch were very reasonable, even for the vinyl available.

The stage is up against the back wall, right in the middle of the room's width.  It was perfectly placed as no matter where you stand, you could get a good view of the bands.  The music, from where we were standing, was of course loud but not overly.  Obviously the closer you are, that would change.  Neither Brian or I are moshers, so I can't say for sure what it was like up front but it seemed like the standard small venue set up of the fans being right against the stage.

The first band to play was SUMMONER'S CIRCLE, who go by the label Epic Metal.  Their sound is a mix of several different styles, including Black Metal, Doom, and Death.  They are a newer band, having one album and an EP under their belt so far.  I spoke to a member after their performance and he said they just got signed to Pavement Records so congratulations to these guys because they definitely deserve it.  For a smaller band who probably don't have the equipment to match the bigger ones, their sound filled the room up just as well.  All six members were dressed in robes and wearing corpse paint—they went for a theatrical appearance and it worked very well for their sound.  As the intro was starting up, they preformed a "sacrifice," before launching into their set.   All the members had decent stage presence but the vocalist was the most energetic.  His voice was very powerful, every Blackened scream and Death growl came out with clarity.  Instrument wise, the rest of the band is very tight with a surprising amount of groove to their sound.  Obviously they had the smallest crowd of the four bands but a decent amount of people did watch them.  Those in attendance were having a great time, throwing up horns and headbanging.  SUMMONER'S CIRCLE's performance was perfect for gearing the crowd up for the rest of the night.  I wish these guys luck in their continued journey to grow their fan base and I will be keeping an eye out for new music from them.

Up next was WOLFHEART, a band from the mind of master song writer TUOMAS SAUKKONEN.  He has been in many bands such as BLACK SUN AEON and BEFORE THE DAWN but decided to end all projects and concentrate on WOLFHEART.  Their sound is best described as Melodic Death but they have other elements as well.   Doom and Death Metal can also be found in their songs and they are not afraid to add in passages filled with keys or more ambient textures.  Still, their overall sound is much more intense than your average MDM and they displayed that in spades during the show.  At times their sound was so fast, so dense, it felt like being hit by a bus…right in the face.  They opened with "Everlasting Fall," which was a great choice because it is such a well rounded song and easy for people to get into, have they not yet discovered the band.

A few songs into their set, TUOMAS politely asked the crowd to stop moshing around a person who was apparently in the wheel chair.    He asked them to mosh on the right side of the stage; the crowd did so without fuss.  After the next song was over, TUOMAS jokingly said, "You know, when I asked you guys to mosh over there, I didn't mean for you do it like little girls."
It was just a really cool experience for the musician to show his care and concern for a fan and also to display a little humor in the situation. Brian and I were able to interview TUOMAS before the show and we can say he is indeed a nice, polite human being.

As both a vocalist and one of the guitarist, he wasn't able to get around the stage as much as some of the other members but his presence commands attention anyway.  A big, bald, tatted up guy that is growling his ass off kind of gets your attention. Bassist LAURI SILVONEN was everywhere on the stage and had a lot of crowd interaction; he very clearly has a blast doing this.
MIKA LAMMASSAARI, who also plays guitar, covered the stage ground that TUOMAS was not able to; he and TUOMAS are in very good sync with each other's playing and style.  WOLFHEART's drummer, JOONAS KAUPPINEN, sat up high on his drums and displayed a captivating and intense performance.
I wish WOLFHEART's set was longer but, hey, that is just how it goes for the bands who play first.  Still in their six or seven songs, they nearly brought down the house with their intense brand of MDM.  I hope they are able to headline one day—without a doubt it would be on hell of a show.

Next up was the Doom band SWALLOW THE SUN, who released an album earlier in the year.  It has been a well received album by me and many others so I was excited about their set long before they walked on stage.  About half the band wore hoodies, including the vocalist who always seems to do so.  Combine that with their lighting effects and their stage presence was very mysterious and dark, perfect for their music that combines everything from melancholic melody to Death Metal, added to their signature Doom style.  Out of all the bands, they had the best set list which combined new songs with plenty of older fan favorites.

From their amazing new album, "When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light," they played "Upon The Water," "Firelights," and "Stone Wings."  Although definitely a Metal album, their latest is a bit more restrained for them compared to some of their past albums.  However, the emotionally heavy aspects of this album translated well to the live setting and, of course, the songs are even heavier in this environment.  My favorite album of theirs is "Emerald Forest and the Blackbird" and hearing the title track was something else.

Interesting enough, they didn't play the first, and title track, from "When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light."   When it comes to playing shows after a new release, most bands seem to always play the first track from their new album right upon entering the stage.  It was very nice for STS to skip this and start off with an "older" song; it shows fan service and a dedication to their past albums.  Despite their darker, more melancholic sound, STS are incredibly energetic live.   Vocalist MIKKO KOTAMAKI gives a stunning performance on the album and nothing changes in the live setting..this guy's voice was made for shows.  New guitarist JUHO RAIHA is especially adept at showmanship—everything from his face to the way he moves just proves he gets into playing shows like few other musicians I've seen.  The last time I saw STS in concert, he was there as a touring guitarist—I'm so glad he is an official part of the group now.  At that time, JUHO was taking the place for then departed JUHA RAIVIO, who has returned, so I was happy to finally get to see him play this time.  Obviously he has been working through a lot of hard times and its good that he seems to have found himself within the live circuit once more.

MATTI HONKONEN, bassist, is the MVP for their set though.  His playing, his tone…everything about him is earth shattering massive during their live set.  If for some reason there were a need to, he could carry the songs without the guitars if need be.  Even if no one else in the band had any stage presence, his would be enough.  Watching this guy play on stage is an experience worth the price of admission alone.
I really want to see SWALLOW THE SUN play a headline show—I would pay good money to see it.  I enjoyed all four bands but STS without a doubt were the highlight of the evening.

Headlining this tour is legendary CHILDREN OF BODOM, out supporting their tenth studio release "Hexed."  They played a huge thirteen song set list; eleven song act then a two song encore consisting of "Hate Me!" and "Downfall."  I expected them to play a couple more from their new album since it is the whole reason the tour exists.  However, from the new album, they did play "Platitudes and Barren Words," "This Road," "Under Grass and "Clover," and "Hecate's Nightmare."

They opened with "Are You Dead Yet?," which has become somewhat of a mantra for the band.  The high octane groove within the song also makes it the perfect opener.   The band was in incredible form and didn't show any signs of slowing down even after being together for 25 years, having formed in 1993 as INEARTHED.

New guitarist DANIEL FREYBERG fits into the band very well and I really hope things work out and he stays with the band for a long time.  His rhythm skills were very sharp and he gave the songs justice while adding his own style.  Much like TUOMAS from WOLFHEART, ALEXI must stick around the microphone much of the time.  However, he is the lead guitarist so whenever it was his time to shine, he would always step back out from behind the stand shred or walk over to another member, most often keyboardist JANNE WARMAN, during those famous dueling melodies that populate the bulk of their songs.  Vocally, ALEXI's blackened scream is still in as good of shape as his fancy fretwork.

It was obvious most people were in attendance for COB—by the time they took the stage, the room was filled shoulder to shoulder.  More than half the floor was nothing more that one, giant moshpit moving around like a living creature.   It was a blast to see and the band fed off their energy especially bassist HENKKA whose movement on stage was filled with exuberance.
BODOM are about 10,000 times heavier live than on album, especially on their more intense and riff based songs like, "If You Want Peace Prepare For War," and "Bodom Beach Terror," both of which almost brought the house down on the double bass of drummer JASKA RAATIKAINEN.
This was a very good show that left a lasting impression on me, even days after it was over.  All four bands brought their utmost to the stage and I doubt there was one person in attendance that was unimpressed.

1. Are You Dead Yet?
2. In Your Face
3. Platitudes and Barren Words
4. Bodom Beach Terror
5. This Road
6. Everytime I Die
7. Under Grass and Clover
8. I Worship Chaos
9. Hecate's Nightmare
10. Angels Don't Kill
11. If You Want Peace… Prepare for War

12. Hate me!
13. Downfall

1. These Woods Breathe Evil
2. Upon the Water
3. Firelights
4. Deadly Nightshade
5. Cathedral Walls
6. New Moon
7. Stone Wings
8. Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
9. Swallow (Horror Pt. 1)

1. Everlasting Fall
2. Aeon of Cold
3. Strength and Valor
4. Breakwater
5. The Hunt
6. Boneyard

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