Tonight, the Astoria is packed to the rafters, and it’s a fine indication of just how devoted Children Of Bodom‘s UK following is. The Finnish quintet undertook a somewhat meagre UK tour schedule for previous album ‘Are You Dead Yet?’ – a mere two shows in early 2006, followed by an early slot on the Unholy Alliance tour later that year – but it seems that absence has only made their fans’ hearts grow fonder.
Moonsorrow provide an appetising entrée to this feast of metal, with a punishingly heavy yet intricate display of folk metal magic, much of it instrumental. At first, the crowd just seems confused by the lack of vocals, but the loud applause that follows the band’s last song speaks volumes. Watch out for this lot.
On paper, tonight seems like an absolute breeze for Children Of Bodom; a chance for the band to preview their forthcoming ‘Blooddrunk‘ to a rabidly partisan, sold-out crowd. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work out that way. The band certainly look impressive – on a stage bereft of the fancy backdrops and props that littered their previous show here – but the quality of the sound mix is terrible; miring the intricate guitar work of the opening ‘Sixpounder‘ in a swamp of echoing drums and muddy bass. And as for singer Alexi Laiho’s vocals? Suffice to say that it’s just as well that every fan here knows every song word for word, and aren’t shy to prove it.
Alexi and co certainly look like they’re having fun, and deliver the likes of ‘Living Deadbeat‘ and ‘Follow The Reaper‘ with no little panache. By the time they return for a brief encore of ‘Downfall‘, the sound has slightly improved, to the extent that you can actually hear Janne Wirman’s keyboard. A great finale, but it’s a case of too little, too late. Children Of Bodom’s rise looks increasingly unstoppable, but tonight – through no fault of their own – was not what it could have been.