Children Of Bodom / Cannibal Corpse / Diablo
19 February 2009
The Forum, London

Usually at The Forum you’re lucky to be in the venue in time for the opening act. With an early 6pm door time, I’d all but given up on seeing openers Diablo, but arriving at 6.30pm, we still had another hour to wait before they took the stage. The crowd was pretty restless by then, though this seemed to work in Diablo’s favour as they were met with a throng hungry for some metal.

Diablo are pretty much anonymous in the UK, but they have five albums to date, with the latest Icaros being noteworthy. It was from that album that the bulk of Diablo’s short set was drawn with Trail Of Kings kicking things off. Whilst there are some similarities to fellow Finns Children Of Bodom in Diablo’s sound, and indeed guitarist Mark Utriainen’s attire and choice of axe, the band that kept springing to mind was Mercenary. There’s a similar modern metal approach, with drummer Heikki Malmberg triggering backing tracks with an Apple laptop situated next to his drums.

Whilst there was a heavy edge such as the chugging Mimic47 which opened a pit in the crowd, Diablo’s music is infused with melody whether it’s Utriainen’s guitar runs or the powerful voice of Rainer Nygård, who technically was the only “singer” tonight.

The display of pumping devil horns as the band wrapped things up with Into The Sea showed Diablo had made many new friends over their seven song set and it would be good to see them return to build upon this.

Diablo set list:
Trail Of Kings / Living Dead Superstar / Mimic47 / Resign From Life / Icaros / Symbol Of Eternity / Into The Sea

Cannibal Corpse are death metal royalty and the roar as their backdrop was revealed showed quite a lot were here for them alone. Lining up across the stage, each member barely moved from their spot throughout the set. With their hair covering their faces when not headbanging and the lights behind them, the silhouette look provided a menacing zombie like appearance.

Tracks from 2006’s The Kill open the set and the pit, with The Time Is Kill Is Now leading to a punishing Death Walking Terror. When pedal meets metal for the faster material, the PA and venue acoustics struggle somewhat and as a result it was the mid-pace material that really did the damage. New album title track Evisceration Plague was monstrous and it was a bit of surprise that only two songs were drawn from that album.

The old school fans were kept happy with old classics such as I Cum Blood, where frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher invited the crowd to headbang along, but not to try to keep up with him as “You will lose!”. Meanwhile the delicately titled Fucked With A Knife was dedicated to the ladies in the venue, who screamed on command for Corpsegrinder.

Even with the inadequacies of the sound, it was easy to be impressed by the lean mean death metal machine that is Cannibal Corpse. Corpsegrinder’s roars were pitched across a precisely tight band. The inevitable Hammer Smashed Face made an appearance, introduced as the last song. However when the band fail to leave the stage, Corpsegrinder notes, “When I said that was the last song …I lied!” Before the final pummelling of Stripped, Raped and Strangled took things home in a sick fashion.

Cannibal Corpse set list:
The Time To Kill Is Now / Death Walking Terror / Disfigured / Evisceration Plague / I Cum Blood / Fucked With A Knife / Sentenced To Burn / Make Them Suffer / Priests of Sodom / Unleashing The Bloodthirsty / Hammer Smashed Face / Stripped, Raped And Strangled

I’ve managed to see Children Of Bodom eight times now in the last 5 years and perhaps that qualifies me have a degree of apathy about seeing them again, but tonight it felt like they were going through the motions somewhat. Admittedly the sound was certainly not up to scratch compared to previous headline shows and a dick-head taking out the sound desk with a thrown beer causing the gig to be curtailed didn’t help.

The fact remains that since the band first visited our shores on the Hate Crew Deathroll tour, whilst their profile and press has increased the quality of their recorded output has done the opposite. No amount of revisits to latest album Blooddrunk have changed my opinion that it’s inconsistent compared to earlier works and the songs often seem like Bodom rehashes. Are Children of Bodom simply content to ride along on the adulation without stretching themselves?

You can’t really accuse Alexi Laiho of suddenly acting like a rock star. He’s been posing and swearing every other word on stage since the start and the whole band remain masters of their chosen instruments. There were touches of the Bodom magic such as Hate Me, where the audience were illuminated at the start and clapped out the opening. The anthemic Angels Don’t Kill towered but the pantomime “Janne fucked up” which happens at every show was unnecessary.

That’s not to say this was a bad gig, it just didn’t sparkle with the excitement of a hungry band. At times it felt more like you were watching a band wallowing in their success. Certainly a good portion of the crowd were won over once again by the Finns, but I didn’t appear to be the only one leaving with a feeling of indifference.

Children Of Bodom set list:
Intro (They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!) / Hellhounds On My Trail / Living Dead Beat / Sixpounder / Silent Night, Bodom Night / Banned From Heaven / Hate Me! / Medley (Children of Decadence / Bodom After Midnight) / Follow The Reaper / Blooddrunk / In Your Face / Angels Don’t Kill / Medley (Lake Bodom / Bodom Beach Terror) / Downfall / Bed of Razors

Children Of Bodom
Cannibal Corpse