Children of Bodom @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire

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Children of Bodom

With Napalm Death, Insomnium and Medeia

Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

15 October 2013

Review by  Rowena Lamb

Photography by Michelle Murphy

Bringing their Halo of Blood over Europe 2013 tour to the UK was casing a bit of a stir and so what better way to investigate than to wander over to Shepherd’s bush Empire for a night of metal.

Children of Bodom
Children of Bodom

There was a decent crowd lined up when I arrived. Not the longest queue I’ve seen there but it was early and those that were already queuing were obviously very keen to get in as soon as possible and secure themselves a space.

It’s always a bit hard on a band when their set time is only ten minutes after the doors open. This night there was around 150 already through those doors by the time Medeia hit the stage, which isn’t that bad.

However the same can’t be said for the sound. Standing near the bar on the right hand side of the stage at first the sound was not exactly great, and moving past the speakers into the centre definitely helped. However, it still wasn’t the best, especially compared to the later bands.

There was not a great reception for this first band and at first I thought the same as it did sound a bit one dimensional and not everyone is going to stop and focus if it’s not immediately obvious.

But if you took the time to listen to it carefully and separate the different parts out you’d hear that actually there’s a lot going on underneath. There’s a steady drum beat and melody from the keys with an additional subtle melody from the guitars. All this topped with aggressive vocals.

Their third song had a much harder rhythm provided by the drums and guitars together, which brought a good response from the crowd. It was good to see that the audience had increased by the end of their set who cheered as they left the stage, but they weren’t the popular band of the night. Though they gave energy and had the ingredients I do think the sound in the venue let them down.

There was a bit of a luke warm atmosphere at the start of the night and obvious that the headliner was the attraction, if not the only attraction for many. Though the second band Insomnium changed this view as they clearly had a fan base in the crowd, and being someone who had never seen them before, I can say they also won over new fans as well.



Going to see gigs where you discover rare gems is possibly one of the best things about this job and I have definitely added Insomnium to that list of gems.

There was a long instrumental leading into their set which built up the atmosphere and kicking off with Only One Who Waits with so much energy I wasn’t convinced one of them wouldn’t headbang their heads right off.

I still remember thinking bloody hell (or words to that effect) where the hell have I been not to have seen this before; they had me completely focussed throughout their set.

Both guitarists were great to watch; moving about the stage with energy throughout and providing a lot of the melody which is a big part of the sound. Though there were also hidden keys which provided an additional solid melodic background.

Don’t get me wrong, you couldn’t rock a baby to sleep with these songs, especially not with these vocals, but for me there’s something about the mix of hard and heavy with a good melody that’s a winner nearly every time…and for me, and a good section of the crowd, Insomnium were winners.

 Set List

  1. Only One Who Waits
  2. Weather The Storm
  3. Unsung
  4. Where The Last Wave Broke
  5. Ephemeral
  6. One For Sorrow

The anticipation was definitely building in the crowd and quite a few ensuring their good views at the front, and yes I include myself in that. Unlike our fab photographer for the evening, I wasn’t allowed into the hallowed, clear viewed photo pit, so had to grab myself a view. Which provide to be the best place to stand for the next band up to bat – Napalm Death.

Yes, I thought it was a bit of an odd choice too given the melodic nature of the other bands, but a change is as good as a rest. Now I’m not a big Napalm Death fan, but I know a good show when I see one and they certainly blasted it out.

As I’d mentioned before been clear to me from the first band that there were a number of fans in the audience that had just turned up for the headliner. Hardly a shocker someone paying to see the headliner I know, but some seemed to have a blinkered view of the other bands; as if they were confused as to what they were doing there when it was Children of Bodom they had come to see.

Throwing some serious grind core into the mix definitely added to that confusion with some of the audience at the front looking really unsure as to what was going on which was later acknowledged by the band, and all credit to them for it.

It was aggressive with rapid fire speed. It was mean and incessant; a full on onslaught of the ears with take no shit vocals, and I loved the echo-style backing vocals.

The crowd responded well with people jumping about and throwing themselves about in the obligatory mosh pit was well as chanting their name even after they’d left the stage.

In fact, the only real gripe I had at all had nothing to do with Napalm Death but a very small section of the audience and their clear ignorance of gig etiquette. Yes you may not like every band on the line up and no, you don’t have to stand quietly and pay attention throughout a set if it’s not your thing.

But acting like self-important morons by outwardly showing dislike and taking photos of you giving people the finger doesn’t actually make you look cool. There are words for it, but we’ll leave it at that.

Set List

  1. Multinational Corporations, Part II
  2. Everyday Pox
  3. The Wolf I Feed
  4. Suffer the Children
  5. When All Is Said and Done
  6. Errors in the Signals
  7. Protection Racket
  8. Scum
  9. Life?
  10. Deceiver
  11. The Kill
  12. You Suffer
  13. Nazi Punks Fuck Off

Normally there is always a longer set change between the penultimate band and the headliner, but tonight I thought 40 minutes was pushing it a bit. By this point in the evening the anticipation had built to a crescendo with chants of ‘Bodom’ coming from the crowd. The venue was absolutely pack with a definite squeeze on space towards the front as people vied for a good view. But the best view it turned out was actually further back on the stairs where you were afforded a compete view of the stage…and what a view! Who ever said Children of Bodom were great musicians wasn’t exaggerating for a second. Damn but these guys can play.

Watching Janne Warman on keys he looked so relaxed and peaceful while enjoying the odd drink as if he has an easy job on stage. But focus later on his hands and you’ll see that while he’s looking relaxed, his fingers are flying furiously across the keyboard.

Alexi Laiho was called the ‘Best Metal Guitarist’ by Guitar World and when witnessing him play, who am I to disagree! It was ridiculous to watch, leaving me just a little wide eyed.

You had the unique opportunity to watch from another angle as well given the small camera attached to the neck of his guitar. Watching the close up fingering on the guitar was even more awe inspiring.

Jaska Raatikainen on drums also demanded your attention and who doesn’t like to watch drum sticks being thrown about and caught with apparent ease? (Nice Union Jacks on the drum kit too.)

In all honestly I may well have missed a fair bit of what was going on as I stood and just watched the sheer musicianship of the band on stage. It was just brilliant.

The crowd absolutely loved every second of the set with each song bringing huge cheers from the audiences as if that song was the song they had been waiting for all night. Watching the crowd was also great as you could see how involved with the music they were and how focussed their attention was – another sign of a great band.

Their last song Hate Me! came all too quickly and brought with it a brutal mess from the crowd who responded to it with nothing short of enthusiasm.

Holding onto that high there was an extremely short en core (so short I’m not even sure it qualifies for the name) before they returned to the stage for just one more song – yes, unfortunately only one more. In Your Face did nothing to calm the audience’s mood and they were left on a complete high.

The technical ability of the whole band is insane and I urge you to go see them whenever you have the chance whether you’re a fan or not, as this needs to be witnessed.

Even if you’re not a fan their music has something for everyone in there and their live show is exactly that – a real show. Go get your ticket!

Set List

  1. Transference
  2. Needled 24/7
  3. Living Dead Beat
  4. Halo of Blood
  5. Scream for Silence
  6. Bodom After Midnight
  7. Lake Bodom
  8. Hate Crew Deathroll
  9. Dead Man’s Hand on You
  10. Are You Dead Yet?
  11. Blooddrunk
  12. Angels Don’t Kill
  13. Towards Dead End
  14. Hate Me!
  15. Downfall
  16. Encore:  In Your Face