Children Of Bodom @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – 8 April 2011

Finnish band Children of Bodom were formed in 1993 and consist of Alexi ‘Wildchild’ Laiho (vocals, lead guitar), Roope Latvala (rhythm guitar), Janne Wirman (keyboards), Henkka Seppälä (bass), and Jaska Raatikainen (drums).

Their genre classification is debated within the styles of power metal, neo-classical metal, speed metal, progressive metal, black metal, and melodic death metal. Founder member Laiho says that he prefers to just be called a metal group and nothing other.

Whatever their genre, I had been impressed with Children Of Bodom after seeing them at last year’s Bloodstock Open Air Festival – they are not necessarily what I would sit and listen to these days, but technically and performance wise they did something for me, and tonight they pretty much hit that spot again.

Opening with ‘Not My Funeral’, ‘Bodom Beach Terror’ and the ferociously fast ‘Needled 24/7’, the Academy crowd show their appreciation with appropriate fist punching and chanting throughout, as Alexi Laiho duels on the guitar with keyboard player Janne Wirman.

The new album ‘Relentless Reckless Forever’ sold over 10,000 copies in Finland on the first day of its release, and 100,000 copies worldwide the following day. From that album the band rips through ‘Ugly’, ‘Roundtrip to Hell and Back’ and ‘Shovel Knockout’. In addition, they play a catalogue of tracks from their previous six album releases including ‘Living Dead Beat’, ‘Hate Me!’, ‘Blooddrunk’ and ‘Follow the Reaper’.

Alexi Laiho has gained notable recognition for his advanced guitar shredding, ranked as one of the 50 fastest guitarists of all time by Guitar World magazine; and gaining praise from legends such as Kirk Hammet of Metallica. He is undoubtedly the stand-out figure in the band and his guitar wizardry is unquestionable.

After completing their main set with ‘Downfall’ from the 1999 album ‘Hatebreeder’ it is clear that an hour and a half show is not nearly enough to satisfy most CoB fans, who demand an encore by chanting “Bodom, Bodom, Bodom”. They are appeased as the band returns to the stage with the anthemic ‘Was It Worth It?’ and their signature tune ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’.

Anybody who classes themselves as a ‘music lover’ should make room for a bit of unforgiving, fast, dark and technical metal. If you can deal with such a heavy sound, then Children of Bodom are most certainly a band for your delectation. Incorporating many different musical styles they deliver a flawless live show, filled with intertwining guitar and keyboard melodies, an indescribable energy and of course – all the rock ’n’ roll expletives you would expect.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

Children of Bodom