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Children Of Bodom - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London - October 15 2013 (Live Review)

Friday, 18 October 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

It's cold, it's miserable and there's an old Jamaican dude selling drugs around the corner. Just another Tuesday night in Shepherd's Bush, you might think. But tonight, something wicked lurks on the horizon. A clan of leather-clad warriors swarm around the Empire, staking their claim for an evening with Children Of Bodom.

Medeia have the unenviable task of opening up the gig, and the few who actually manage to get here in time are pretty impressed. It's more polite applause than anything, the sound is a bit too muddy to pick out the intricate leads and keyboard patterns of their tunes, leaving the audience with not a lot to clutch on to. They do their best, but succumb to the Empire's unruly sound system.

Insomnium are up next, delivering the kick in the arse that London needs. Some bloke is overheard describing their music as, 'like Scar Symmetry...But a bit doomier, duuuude'. The description is pretty accurate, and Insomnium resonate well with the Bodom crowd.

Melodic hooks are interspersed with death metal and tossed out like free pies. Cuts from 2011's 'One For Sorrow' are received just as well as the older stuff, adding an extra serving of balls to proceedings.

Talking of balls, Napalm Death do a bloody good job of grabbing the audience's collective pair and bludgeoning them to bits. Frontman Mark 'Barney' Greenway apologises to the 'nonplussed faces' of Bodom fans down in the front row; this music is so far removed from that of the headliners’ it's hilarious. He then goes on to describe their set as 'an endurance test' before launching straight into another bout of extreme grindcore.

This music isn't meant to be exposed to audiences of this size, resulting in half the venue staring at the stage as if they've just seen their mum being executed. For those people, Napalm Death are genuinely terrifying. For those who appreciate the band, though, many treats are dispensed. Classics such as Scum are aired, with their cover of Dead Kennedys’ Nazi Punks Fuck Off generating a scarily large singalong. They may have been around for the best part of three decades, but Napalm death dish out the tunes with the energy and passion of men half their age.

After changing their pants and going for a breather, the shell-shocked punters are primed and ready for Bodom. And with good reason. The Finns greet London with the terrifyingly heavy rumble of Transference from their latest release, 'Halo Of Blood'. Not only are the band extremely tight, but vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho is in fine, sober form.

The band rattles through tunes old and new and in a similar way to Insomnium, newer tracks go down just as well as stone-cold bangers such as Bodom After Midnight and Needled 24/7. And while it is brilliant to hear the new tracks being aired, the band are aware of what their fanbase craves. Chants to tunes like the ludicrous Are You Dead Yet? and Downfall are triumphantly noisy, proving that there is still a huge market for this melodic death metal stuff.

Slogging away for around eighty minutes, Bodom barely have time to breathe, with Laiho seldom addressing the crowd. There's none of the dicking about and playing the song from Titanic or lengthy guitar/keyboard duels like there usually is. This makes for a more professional outing, and while some may have enjoyed the playful nature of earlier shows, it's still the same stuff at the core.

Ending on the monumental metal slab that is In Your Face, Children Of Bodom leave Shepherd's Bush in a quivering heap on the cold October ground. It's brutal, it's catchier than the clap, and it's an absolute joy to witness. In your face, London. In your face indeed.


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