Last night I went to see Children Of Bodom live in concert. You can probably remember that I got into Children Of Bodom during the era of this Blog, discovering them first as part of a First Impressions article. Since then I’ve ended up with five of their albums and I enjoy them all. I’ve listened to them fairly regularly ever since and my Last FM Bodom scrobble count is 389. Not constant, but fairly solid you might say.
I didn’t know it at the time I bought the tickets, but about a week ago I found out that they would be supported by Napalm Bastard Death. I used to love Napalm Death, you can probably tell that from all the glowing Napalm Death album reviews that I’ve posted on here. My current Lastfm scrobble count for napalm Death since I joined in late 2010 is 520, but if I had have had LastFM from the day I got into music, they would easily have surpassed 2,000 (especially considering just how many albums they have and how many songs on each album that there are). Admittedly I’m not an absolute hardcore undying fan, but I got into them around the time of the release of Noise For Music’s Sakes and have enjoyed them ever since, especially the absolutely corking Enemy Of The Music Business album. Hey, I was the only person I saw who sang along to the chorus of ‘Narcoleptic’ though. I’m not to proud to admit that some of their stuff is a bit too extreme for me, and I don’t love the songs that are just three minutes of Blast Beats with no big grooves, but as a general rule, I think fondly of them as a band and they were important to me as a teenager, there was about two or three years where they felt like “my band.” I just missed them play live by about a week the first time I moved to this city and I missed them when they played in my last city as well before that because it was in a very expensive festival that I couldn’t afford at the time. Getting to see them with no extra effort or expense (since I already had the Bodom ticket) was a real smile-bringer.
There were also two more bands on the bill (value for money, ey?); a very Chimaira-sounding groove focused band called Medeia who I’d never heard before and a Melodic Death Metal band called Insomnium who I’d also never heard of before, but who will become damn familiar with soon.
While I was in the cue to get in, I learned that The Devil Wears Prada were also playing in a separate part of the building, leading to confusion over which cue was which (there was only one cue!) and one of their roadies and some Scottish teenager girls following them across the whole tour talked to me, at one stage recommending I take their spare Prada ticket instead of going to see the Bodom gig. I didn’t though. I went to the one that I planned to go to.
So. The night opened with Medeia. Like what happened when I saw Bleed From Within support Megadeth, the band were forced to start playing the second that doors opened, so there was barely a crowd at all for their first two or three songs, which the band gratefully acknowledged in nice stage banter thanking the early commers. Their music was slightly techy, very groovey and pretty much exactly like Chimaira only if Chimaira were a Terrorizer band instead of a Metal Hammer band (if that makes sense). It was like the music of The Infection played with the spirit of New American Gospel. They were enjoyable.
Next up, another Finnish Melodeath band were on Bodom’s bill. From their name and winter-forest image backdrop I thought it was going to be nasty Black Metal, but when they started playing it was this brilliant mixture of all the good parts of Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy with not one second of the bad bits. Their vocalist was killer (as was the clean vocal guitarist). Their stage presence was fantastic, it felt like such an important gig, and their thick, textured, melodic and crunchy music was absolutely spectacular. I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed by a band I’d not heard of before, since the time that I saw Amon Amarth support Mastodon, Trivium and Slayer. That sold me on Amon Amarth.
Tasteful guitar solos, mournful and interesting slow bits and the great metallic main-bits, that sold me on Insomnium. I really liked it. I’ve made a definite note to check out some of their recorded output.
Then something odd happened. Napalm Death slowly and disinterestedly wondered on stage, to no crowd reaction and without acknowledging that they were even in public, helping set up their own ratty looking equipment, and at times had their back to the crowd, like the most bored pub band ever. It couldn’t have looked more like a bunch of phone-it-in, sick-of-touring, don’t-care-about-this-gig sad old men.
I was genuinely disappointed for a second. The band that had looked so interesting in my teens were doing their own soundcheck on stage in the middle of the gig, failing to get their own bass-straps on and having trouble with the mic in their bass drum. Compared to the other bands on that who looked like mechanized perfect touring machines, this just looked a bit embarrassing.
…And then they started playing. Fuck me. Boy was I wrong. I guess they were just doing a Punk Rock “We’re no different than you” shtick with the set-up period, because I swear I’ve never seen a band “mean it” more in all my life. They played the absolute fuck out of it. I’ve never seen anyone play harder and more passionately. Not Tool, not Metallica, not Slayer. You should have seen the looks in their eyes.
Pete Doherty looked like a disinterested and embarrassing clown when I saw him a month ago. This. This is how it should be done. It’s the sort of thing I imagine when I hear people talk about Dillinger, Gallows or TRC gigs, only without the threat of injury.
The bouncers didn’t know what to make of “this load of old noise” (as Barney put it in the stage banter) and quite a lot of the crowd around me were horrified at the start, but you just could not deny the incredible amount that the band put into it. They won a lot of people over. They pleased a lot of existing fans. The absolutely smashed it.
I absolutely loved that gig.
Next up, how could Bodom top that? Well they couldn’t top the ferocity that’s for sure, and they couldn’t give me the surprise factor Insomnium gave, but from the sheer perfection of their sound, performance and the incredible fun of their music they certainly matched the rest of the night. The fact that the crowd really responded to them helped too, as did their clear financial superiority (their sound, equipment, backdrop and lighting show were by far and away the best of the evening).
Alexi is a great frontman. Some of the stuff he said was cheesy, such as getting the crowd to cheer because they drink beer, but in general he was charismatic and commanding. I sometimes think of Alexi as like the Dave Mustaine of Melodeath music talent-wise, sound-wise and image-wise, although live he’s more able to sing loudly and powerfully while still playing than Dave is. The rest of the band, especially the drummer and keyboard player were very entertaining, looking like they really loved being there.
With the great songs that were accessible, melodic and genuine fun (with enough crushing Pantera style umph at times to break up the barrage of Helloween-Play-Carcass speed) it was an absolutely fantastic experience.
As usual, I could have done without the selfish crowd surfers, and the dumb apes yelling in my ear and elbowing me in the face, head and eyes, but that’s just the sacrifice you have to make to get to see a band close up.
Overall, it was a good night.