Abbath, Children of Bodom, Exmortus, & Oni: Dec 07, 2016 at The Pressroom

Review/Photos By: Brandy Isadora

On December 7th, Phoenicians got a reprieve from the sappy Christmas carols and doldrums usually associated with this time of year. Children of Bodom, along with Abbath, Exmortus, and Oni, gave fans a much needed dose of heavy metal at the Pressroom in Downtown Phoenix. The stop was just one of many for these bands as they make their way through the states on the I Worship Chaos tour.

©Brandy Isadora - Oni at Marquee Theatre

©Brandy Isadora – Oni at The Pressroom

Canadian progressive metal band, Oni, took the stage first. Consisting of members Jake Oni (vocals), Martin Andres (guitar), Brandon White (guitar), Chase Bryant (bass), Joe Greulich (drums), and John “D” (xylo-synth), Oni is a newer band that is quickly garnering attention as a powerful and talented metal group. Their music is sophisticated, but the sharp contrasts between the clean vocals and melodies with the aggressive screams and riffs flow seamlessly. Even with all the musical and lyrical complexities, it is easy to be enveloped in the huge sound and atmosphere of the band’s music. Though the band formed in 2014, these musicians showed no signs of being new to the touring scene. Besides displaying confidence and cohesion with each other, all the band members connected well with the audience. Jake Oni’s voice sounded strong and clear, as though his voice were made for singing metal. By the end of their set, the band had everyone’s attention and the fans were ready for an evening of extreme metal and chaos.

©Brandy Isadora - Exmortus at Marquee Theatre

©Brandy Isadora – Exmortus at The Pressroom

Since 2002, American metal band Exmortus has deftly intertwined classical melodies with fast and aggressive metal riffs. There is no slowing down once this band takes the stage. The music and the energy was momentous and theatrical, almost as though the band was creating a soundtrack for a hero to be born from the pit of moshing fans. Vocalist and guitarist Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez and guitarist David Rivera displayed incredible speed and accuracy with their neoclassical shredding. Every great metal band must have an exceptional drummer, and Mario Moreno was no exception. His precision was as much the driving force of the music as were the crunchy guitars and Mike Cosio’s heavy bass rhythms. Like the opening band, Oni, Exmortus easily bonded with the audience. The crowd, which had steadily grown throughout the evening, gravitated closer and closer to the stage. Even when their set was over, the fans continued to be mesmerized by their performance.

©Brandy Isadora - Abbath at Marquee Theatre

©Brandy Isadora – Abbath at The Pressroom

When Norwegian black metal band Abbath took the stage, the atmosphere in the venue turned more serious. Black metal as a genre is known for matching the ambiance with the music. Corpse paint, black attire adorned with spikes, and dramatic lighting are just some of the characteristics of a black metal performance. Former Immortal vocalist and guitarist, Abbath Doom Occulta formed his solo project in 2015, after a seemingly sudden departure from Immortal. Abbath, along with bassist King ov Hell, guitarist Silmaeth, and drummer Gabe Seeber, commanded the stage with a dramatic presence that inspired a feeling of ritual and excitement. Dressed all in black and covered in corpse paint, each of the musicians were prepared to slay the audience with crunchy guitar grooves and doom inspired lyrics. Seeber, who instead donned a Satanic mask, attacked the gritty riffs with precision and incredible speed. Though the music was heavy, as black metal music is supposed to be, the songs had classic rock grooves and memorable hooks. Even though Abbath the band has only been established since 2015, these musicians have long been prominent figures in the metal scene. The crowd adored Abbath, and Abbath clearly enjoyed performing for his fans. Even with the corpse paint and screaming vocals, he was personable. He projected all his energy to his fans, and the fans in turn showed their devotion by moshing and giving their undivided attention. From start to finish the Norwegian band was high energy, and as they confidently left the stage at the end of their set, some of the fans rushed towards Abbath to have their picture taken with him before the stage was cleared for the next band.

©Brandy Isadora - Children of Bodom at Marquee Theatre

©Brandy Isadora – Children of Bodom at The Pressroom

Finnish metal band, Children of Bodom, are no strangers to headlining tours. Since the late 1990’s, COB has become a fixture in the metal scene with their singular way of combining death metal riffs with neoclassical shredding and huge symphonic melodies. On stage, the band was more laid back than the previous acts. However, their music was not at all laid back. The fact that most of the band members have played together for nearly two decades was evident in their level of confidence and cohesion. Vocalist and guitarist Alexei Laiho looked at ease, managing both the vocals and sophisticated leads. One of the characteristics that separates COB from other bands is the back and forth between Laiho’s shredding and keyboardist Janne Wirman’s agile melodies. Bassist Henkka Seppälä and drummer Jaska Raatikainen accentuated the fast “in your face” riffs and choruses with their unison precision. Each beat clearly punched through the music with the clarity that is only heard among top-level metal bands. The newest member of the band, Swedish guitarist Daniel Freyberg, held his own with the other band members. Despite the fact he only joined the band earlier in 2016, Freyberg’s chemistry and solid playing seem to be evidence that he’s a perfect fit for the band.

COB’s set list included many of their fans’ favorite songs, such as “Needled 24/7,” “In Your Face,” and “Everytime I die.” The excitement and intensity in the audience was apparent throughout the entire show. At the end of their performance, COB came back for an encore, playing “Hate Me!” and “Downfall,” before they closed out the evening.

 

Very rarely do metal fans get to see a show that includes bands from all over the world. Though it often feels like the metal community is small, the I Worship Chaos tour demonstrates that the heavy metal scene has always been growing, and it will continue to expand because of these talented musicians and their extremely loyal fans. Though the tour is coming to an end soon, there is no doubt that these bands will be back again.

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