Fully 20 years into the tough, heroic grind that represents the lifeblood of extreme musicians, Finland metal scientists Children of Bodom have certainly won over crowds globally through a crafted alloy that is theirs alone. But the building of their esteemed career has also been aided an abetted by the simple math of all that work, the intense touring, that inevitable return visit to your town that has made the band' s shows engaging, personable and energetic thrash parties indelibly stamped on the circuit boards of headbangers worldwide.
The party continues, with the release of the band' s ninth album, I Worship Chaos, which finds guitar hero for a new generation Alexi Lahio recording for the first time in a four-piece configuration (along with Janne, Jaska and Henkka), given the sudden and recent departure of long-time co-guitarist Roope Latvala from the ranks. Which has lent the band a forced but fortuitous sense of focus, says Alexi: "It was hard because we' ve never been the kind of a band who changes members every other week. So all of a sudden you are one family member short. I was obviously on double duty, because I had to record all the guitars. But I didn' t even care, man; we just went and got everything done. And I think us parting ways with him has made us strive and pull together as a group, which was a beautiful thing, really. Because it felt like we were teenagers again making our first album. Plus it made the guitars tighter. It' s not like I'm talking shit about Roope or anything, but it' s just a scientific fact that if there' s one guy playing everything, it tends to get tighter. And I' m definitely happy with the result."If there' s an increased level of heaviness rippling and rifling through I Worship Chaos, it might be because the album is constructed with guitars that are tuned a half step lower. Hence tracks like blackened thrashers "Horns" and "Suicide Bomber," as well as the rhythmically sophisticated "My Bodom (I Am the Only One)" reverberate with bottom end from both bass and guitar, even if keyboards and the band' s modern approach to drum mix fight to uphold Children of Bodom' s celebrated sense of cut, clarity and agility. All told, says Alexi, "The mission will always be to get as heavy as possible, but also try to improve as musicians and as songwriters. Honestly, this is the strongest COB album in a long, long fucking time. We just wanted to change things up a bit. I think the album has a darker vibe than the previous ones, especially Halo of Blood—it is definitely heavier, as well as darker as far as the melodies go. It' s got a lot of sadness and hurt and anger in it. Which sounds like, hey, what else is new? But it really is different (laughs)."The Skyclad-meets-Dark Tranquillity of "Morrigan," with its expert synthesis between keyboards and mid-paced riff, with its thump and near swing feel, is sure to stand out as one of the magic stadium rock moments of the entire Children of Bodom catalogue. "That one stood out from the line-up from the get-go," explains Alexi. "It' s like everybody—the band, the record company and the management—were like, that' s gotta be the single. And even all my friends I ran it past said, dude, that' s so fucking catchy, you gotta make a single out of that. Lyrically, Morrigan is one of the goddesses of the underworld, and it' s sang basically from a mortal man' s point of view, where he expresses obsessive love and lust for her. That idea inspired me to write that song, but it' s not necessarily about a certain goddess. It could be anybody, and so it' s a song that is probably very easy for people to relate to."Even more elegantly shocking is "All for Nothing," on which Alexei opens with a frightening whisper-type vocal over a track that is often Maiden-esque and textural, the bonus being a searing guitar solo which demonstrates why Laiho has quietly become—weirdly and specifically—an elder statesman of razor-wired guitar to a very young next generation of Bodomites. Says Alexi, "All For Nothing" is very different from anything that we have done before—you would not know that that' s Children of Bodom. That vocal was a challenge to record, but that' s how it should be. You shouldn' t be too comfortable with what you do; you' ve got to try new things."But there' s signature white-knuckle Bodom all over the record as well, songs that slam but then are sweetened by synth legend Janne Warman' s array of slicing keyboard sounds. "Sure, well, the opening track called ' I Hurt' is fast and intense," describes Laiho, "with a lot of things going now. At first you' re thinking it' s basically pure chaos, but then there' s a chorus that is just so catchy on every level, that I think it' s the best opening track we' ve had in a long time. It' s one of those that doesn' t fly by you—that chorus will stick with you for sure. The title track, ' I Worship Chaos' is another fast one but it' s very simple—you know, main riff, verse/chorus, that sort of thing—but it' s got lyrics that are quite autobiographical and true, basically around the idea that I' m not good with quiet, I' m not good with dead silence—that stresses the shit out of me. I need a lot of noise and chaos around me constantly, on every level, to function. I' m pretty proud of those lyrics and I poured a lot of effort into them."Underscoring the sense of contrast to the record—in fact, its perfectly sequenced ebb and flow—is "Hold Your Tongue," which Alexi describes as "a straight up rock ' n' roll song, which lyrically is me basically being pissed at people who complain too much when they don' t have anything to complain about."Add those examples up, and one can divine the componentry of the Children of Bodom sound, which Alexi articulates as such: "Well, obviously the guitars with those keyboards is a different dimension from almost all the extreme bands, when you think about it. The keyboard thing is obvious, I would say. But really, the guitars... it' s extreme metal—basically death and black metal and thrash—but there are also sleazy little ' 80s riffs in there. And same thing with the keyboards, really; we do a lot of stuff with keyboards that could be in a friggin' disco song. But we have a way of making it sound dark and heavy as well. We grew up listening to everything, and even though we were death metal kids and black metal kids when we were teenagers, there was still the whole ' 80s thing with W.A.S.P. and everything. That' s always stuck with me and so I automatically kind of incorporated that into our whole death metal sound."And is there something intrinsically Finnish about Children of Bodom? "Personally I don' t think there' s a Finnish sound," reflects Laiho. "People talk about the old school black metal thing from Norway or the Gothenburg sound, which both exist on some level, but in Finland there are so many different bands that sound nothing like each other. If anything, I think the Finnish thing in Children of Bodom would be an attitude, where it' s perhaps angry and blunt, but with a dose of dark humor."The band' s sense of not taking themselves too seriously might be divined from their choice of covers to be used for I Worship Chaos bonus material. Sure the band celebrate their heritage (and the music the guys loved as teenagers) through Amorphis track "Black Winter Day." But then there' s an exploration of Alexi' s love for deep tracks punk through a cover of The Plasmatics' "Mistress of Taboo" as well as a metal send-up of Kenny Loggins' soundtrack classic, "Danger Zone.""Well, Plasmatics was just fun," laughs Alexi. "I' d been listening to Plasmatics a lot, for some reason, just before we started recording. I can' t recall any bands like us that have covered Plasmatics, so I thought that would be cool. I have always been a huge W.A.S.P. fan—the first two W.A.S.P. records, I fucking love them. And to me, The Plasmatics sound like W.A.S.P. before W.A.S.P., you know? I' m sure that Blackie Lawless was listening to a lot of Wendy O. Williams and Plasmatics back in the day. As for Kenny Loggins, well, we just love to do goofy silly covers, so that was just one of those things.
Everyone loves Top Gun, right? So there you go. I' m not even sure it turned out that well, but you' ll get a laugh out of it, and that' s all that matters (laughs)."
When Abbath announced that he had left IMMORTAL, it sent massive shockwaves through the metal scene. The iconic frontman had long become the "face" of the Norwegian black scene, his image synonymous with this style. Now the legend returns with his new band ABBATH and a crushing eponymous debut album, unleashing all the fury of a Nordic blizzard at full force. Of course the band is equally at home in writing anthemic mid-tempo hymns. Abbath's characteristic riffing shines clearly through it all: heavy, harsh, and yet catchy and melodic with a touch of epic BATHORY, MOTÖRHEAD, and even KISS. At the same time there is no danger of repeating the formula of IMMORTAL or the mastermind's other project under the moniker I, which was shared with King. The bass player from Bergen has again joined Abbath and brought his impressive song-writing skills to the battlefield. GORGOROTH, GOD SEED, and OV HELL bear witness to King's exceptional talent as a composer, while contributions to AUDREY HORNE and SAHG demonstrate his wide stylistic range. The final keystone to ABBATH lies in the outstanding drumming delivered by the mysterious Creature. The trio has already proved its worth as a live entity at several headlining festival shows as well, where ABBATH were joined by an additional guitarist. 'Abbath' impresses from start to finish. This is exactly the album that all fans of this particular Bergen brand of black metal have been hoping for. Hold on tight or get blown away. ABBATH are here now and ready to conquer the world!
The Southern California quartet EXMORTUS — whose invigorating twin-guitar mix of neoclassical shred, Bay Area thrash, progressive death and traditional heavy metal has earned the group a devoted following in the Western U.S. — has signed a worldwide contract with Prosthetic Records (Skeletonwitch, Holy Grail, Scale The Summit). The group's full-length Prosthetic debut and third album overall will be released in February of 2014, when they will tour North America with Dark Tranquillity and Omnium Gatherum.
Prior to that, EXMORTUS will team with San Francisco thrashers Hatchet for the "Death Upon The West" tour, which kicks off in Fullerton, Calif. on Nov. 2. A complete list of the band's upcoming tour dates can be found below. "We're very excited and proud to announce our signing with Prosthetic Records," the band says in a statement. "The staff there is great and very enthusiastic. They've signed so many great bands over the years and continue to do so, some in which have even given us some influence. Being fans of the label and their artists, it just feels like a perfect fit. We can't for wait Prosthetic to put this next record out!" Co-founded a decade ago by then-teenage cousins Conan (vocals/guitar) and Mario Moreno (drums), EXMORTUS self-released several demos and EPs before signing with Heavy Artillery Records in 2007. The group's 2008 debut "In Hatred's Flame" and 2011 follow-up "Beyond The Fall Of Time" earned praise for their "frighteningly aggressive thrash blended with both death metal and NWOBHM bluster" (Blabbermouth), and their exuberant, shred-heavy live performances can convert even the most jaded heshers into enthusiastic headbangers. Additional details about EXMORTUS' Prosthetic debut will be revealed in the coming weeks. For more information on the group, visit www.facebook.com/exmortusofficial.
In Japanese folklore, the Oni is a malevolent shapeshifting demon, able to take on many guises as it spreads pain and misery. The constantly shifting, ever-evolving sound of Ontario, Canada's Oni is no less elusive, though unlike their namesake, amidst the brutality and violence they weave great beauty, and a breadth of heartfelt emotion. Gleefully contorted, crushingly heavy and insidiously melodic, their debut full-length grabs you from the moment it starts, and over the course of nine tracks it holds you by the throat. "We want the songs that we write to not only move us but move our fans and give them the energy to break through another day, another challenge," states vocalist Jake Oni. "And though our music is very technical, songwriting is so important to everything we do. The songs need to rock, regardless of how well anyone plays their instrument, and we want to write songs that people can bang their heads to, and have fun with."
Formed in 2014 by [vocalist], the initial vision was "to be the band I never got to see", one that was deeply rooted in progressive metal but that had a feel all of its own, to rise above a genre that has constantly churned out new groups to an often numbing effect. In doing so, their sound comfortably situates them among the genre's heavy hitters - the likes of The Human Abstract, Protest The Hero and Between The Buried in me - all of whom have stuck to their guns, constantly pushing forward and refusing to stagnate. With Jake Oni handling vocal duties, Martin Andres and Brandon White on guitar, Chase Bryant on bass and Joe Greulich on drums, they are also perhaps the first metal band to feature a Xylo-synth player, in the form of John "D", which adds an interesting and intriguing dynamic. Oni was formed when Jake hit up his fellow bandmates in Ontario, Canada and proposed the idea of starting Oni. It was not long before they caught the attention of the Mill Records, who not only saw something unique in the music the sextet were creating, but also recognized the band as a genuine force in the live scene. The band takes it's shows very seriously and plays every show as if it's their last!
For many, their first introduction to the band will be via their self-titled debut full-length. Emphasizing their many strengths, over the course of fifty minutes the listener is taken on a deeply absorbing ride through an expansive yet intimate storm of metallic noise that provides ample opportunity for headbanging, singing along, introspection and unrestrained excitement. Every song is packed full of contrasts and contradictions, grace and violence, and with the band disinterested in churning out endless soundalikes, each has a distinct character of its own - or more accurately characters of its own, since they refuse to limit themselves to a single mood or tone. While every Oni song is its own unique creature, we get inspired and write. Take "Eternal Recurrence", for example, which snaps and snarls through a barrage of savage yet controlled violence, counterpointed by passages of unfettered grace, and shredding that is as complex as it is melodic. In 4 minutes and 54 seconds they demonstrate the breadth of their musical mastery and their songwriting abilities, only to tear up the rulebook and do it again and again. Lyrically, [vocalist] also refuses to limit himself to a specific theme. "There is no one concept because every song is different. Some songs are about other people, some songs are about me. Some songs are about scenarios or themes that my band and I created. It's about how the song makes someone feel more than anything." Presiding over the sessions was producer Josh Wilbur (Lamb Of God, Gojira), who immediately understood what the band were trying to achieve. "He brings out the best in our music," Jake enthuses. "He pushes me vocally to get the best performance, and he knows what I'm trying to say, musically, so we get great results together. He's a top-notch producer, he knows the metal genre, and has an ear that is amazing for the stuff that Oni does." Through this connection, the band were able to reach out to Lamb Of God vocalist - and metal legend - Randy Blythe, who contributes his inimitable style to "The Only Cure". Powered by the kind of bouncing judder tech-overlords Meshuggah would be proud of, it is one of the album's heaviest moments, and Blythe brings his A-game. "He heard our stuff and was pumped to sing on it - and how could that not be a truly awesome experience?"
With their armor-plated debut under their collective belt, it's unsurprising that the band are feeling confident and excited for the future. However, they are keeping their goals humble but heads high, their priority just to get on the road and play their songs to anyone and everyone they get the chance to. "Energy and inspiration is what we're all about. Every day is a new beginning if we make it so we give our best at every show, for every fan. We live for music and our fans make our music possible. They give it life, energy and inspiration."
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