It’s hard to believe Children of Bodom have been around for 20 years now. It seems like only yesterday when the monumental ‘Hatebreeder‘ was released, raising the bar for melodic death metal worldwide. Here they are in London again tonight making efforts to prove they are still the wild children as they were in 1997.
Getting straight to the point – nothing much has changed about Bodom and nothing really ever has bar a couple of line-up differences. That consistency in their live performances is what has served them well in their career that is now two decades old, and wild child Alexi Laiho showing us that we really don’t need to grow up at heart even though some solemn faces spread around when they were reminded they bought ‘Something Wild‘ 19 years ago. But metal stays forever, we all know that – and it’s quite a few old fans that have turned up in the Shepherd’s Bush Empire this evening to pay homage to arguably the finest brand of melodic death metal, but not before a few of their friends warm the place up.
A lot of the excitement of the evening was built up around the opening band Oni who made quite the impact with their debut album and UK show alike. They’ve come back quick to continue to build on that magnificent modern metal impression and don’t fail to do so this time either. With this erratic yet knife-edged progressive metal this Canadian sextet play the sound requires a mix perfection for the music to resonate well on the live stage, sadly which did not, however the energy the band put into their show more than compensated for the muffled sound. 8-strings, Xylosynths, and a lot of headbanging and virtual aggression brought audience approval.
The next band of Forever Still could almost be considered a piece of soft cheese amongst hardened rye bread in an aggressive metal sandwich. The Danish quartet have been making their mark on UK shores with their soundtrack like brand of alternative rock. An interesting choice to stick them in between these speedy hypertechnical bands, but nonetheless, there was quite a positive reaction from the band which was very unprecedented from my perspective.
The band have not yet managed to to tickle my fancy musically, but what I can say is they don’t let their critics hinder their live performances in any capacity. The sound was brilliant with every solemn note making the correct impact, and the explosive impact of each chorus allowed the band members the freedom to make a theatrical scene of each track such as their lead single ‘Miss Madness‘. The gathered Bodom fans aren’t likely to be immediately won over enough to turn towards the alt-rock side, but the fact that Forever Still managed to hold the positive attention of a wild death metal crowd is actually a magnificent achievement. Kudos.
And now to get ‘Down & Dirty’, the reason why we are all here! It’s fairly evident that most of the fans attending this evening have been Children of Bodom fans for quite the long time, and they are here because they know exactly what to expect from the show – a high-energy performance, all-out agression and a plinth on which to pay homage to the immense technical ability of shredders Alexi Laiho and Janne Wirman. And quite frankly, we got exactly what we wanted.
As a 20-year anniversary, Bodom decided to blow off the idea that they needed to promote their latest ‘I Worship Chaos‘ album and base a setlist around that – this was a simple list chuck full of Bodom classics ranging from ‘Something Wild‘ all the way up to the present. That was a feat that was very appreciated amongst fans, and because every song was indeed a classic, the audience energy was absolutely rampant.
Pits broke out in tracks like ‘Deadnight Warrior‘ and ‘Needled 24/7‘ while heads were banging so hard in ‘Angels Don’t Kill‘ some were at risk of falling off. The was all almost stopped in the intermittent phases of the music where prolific frontman Laiho would show off his suburb guitar skill and keyboardist Wirman would chime in and harmonise with the rapid shredding.
What was a standard Bodom show just seem to be that much amplified with the idea that this kind of show was truly for the fans, of whom were more energised by the fact that after 20 years the Bodom crew were still throwing their all into it. We know the band have had a few troubles here and there, but not a hint of exhaustion reared an appearance on any of the band members faces. From where I was standing it was alternating smiles and rock star scowls. Yet another excellent performance – here’s to 20 more years!