[Once again into the breach with photographer Andrei Chlytchkov, this time to shoot the Hexed Tour at The Phoenix on Toronto on March 16. The gig featured Children of Bodom, Swallow the Sun, Wolfheart and Summoner’s Circle. Text by L. Benny Sanders.]
Children of Bodom, along with tour mates Swallow the Sun, Wolfheart and Summoner’s Circle laid siege to The Phoenix in a heavy metal gala fit for a Finnish furste.
Openers Summoner’s Circle on their first trip to the Great White North unleashed a kirjani of spells on an enthusiastic crowd while appropriately dressed in sorcerers’ duds. Their final incantation was “Leviathan, Lord of the Labyrinth” which includes the line “We beseech thee with an offering.”
The MVP of the set was drummer frix2 who the most amazing double bass drum technique I have ever heard. He played them as if he was using his hands. Incredible rolls and riffs.
Wolfheart”, immersed in red and yellow lighting incited plenty of body surfing. The quartet let loose a trio of tunes (“Everlasting Fall”, “Breakwater” and “Boneyard”) to the delight of the fans. Vocalist Tuomas Saukkonen whipped the crowd into a frenzy, the band was arguably the most exciting act of the evening, with the majority of people’s hands in the air in raised shaka.
This set’s MVP was Mika Lammassaari, who shredded the guitar like no mere mortal.
Swallow the Sun followed with music mostly from two CDs, New Moon (2007) and When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light (2019). They were undoubtedly the most melodic band of the evening, but the sound mix was so unbalanced that Mikko Kotamäki’s vocals seemed more like a keyboard pad, and the incredibly synced guitars of Räihä & Raivio were just background. Bass guitar and drums overrode the blend and the keys cut through like a knife. The crowd eventually seem to treat the tunes as background music and time to catch up on current events. If I had to name an MVP of this set, it was bassist Matti Honkonen.
The final battle came in the form of headliners Children of Bodom. Five musicians, most of whom have played together for over two decades. It was their music that formed the glue for this tour. The band has released 10 studio albums, two live albums, two EPs and a DVD.
Vocalist and lead guitarist Alexi Laiho, the driving force behind the group, seemed tired (maybe from the grueling schedule?) but still put on a helvetti of a show.
CoB opened with “Are You Dead Yet?” from the 2005 album of the same name and closing with “If You Want Peace… Prepare For War.” A double encore of “Hate Me!” and “Downfall” completed the show and left the crowd with so much energy that the exit was like a party in itself.
Of the evening, I’d love to see the MVPs on stage together as one unit. Alexi (vocals/guitar), Mika (guitar), Matti (bass) and frix2 (drums) sort of a “Hexed All-star” team.