For those that want a bit of variety in the bands they see at a show, a trip was worth taking to travel down to the Empire in Shepherds Bush on Sunday, a trio of bands were set to put on a performance each in a line up that had something for everyone. A strong serving of Progressive metal that sat on the very heavy side of the metal, followed by lighter, softer approach to metal, and chased down with some neoclassical inspired death metal, all eclectic in their own ways to say the least, but a blend that left no nasty taste in our mouths after.
Starting the festivities off were Canadian outfit Oni, fast, heavy, technical and progressive in every way, and also a little different with quite possibly the only band of the metal world with a full time xylosynth player. They haven’t been in the public eyes for very long, their debut album is only about 6 months old at the time of the show, and only a single tour of the UK previous not too long back but you wouldn’t think it to see the crowd. The presence on the stage was that you expect of veteran bands, their sound was as clear and without fault the entire show, and their performance was a sight to behold. Their crushing riffs and drumming ripped through everyone with what seemed to be almost flawless playing, the insane speed and accuracy of Johnny on the xylosynth was outstanding, and the mere size of vocalist Oni was commanding. They were a band that came and really wanted to stick in the minds of fans, and they did it well. The blending and flow of each song between the styles of death metal to progressive was something I could never imagine working as well as they make it do, and to have set the bar so high for such a young band really makes me look forward to seeing what a power they could become. A perfect start to an evening, and a sure fire way to clear the nastiest of hangovers lingering from the night previous. Those that missed the display of utter perfection should be kicking themselves, but thankfully Oni will be back in the UK and playing at one of our favourites, Bloodstock Festival this year. We highly suggest you check them out!
Given the breathing room of the band changes allowed for the crowd to let sink in what they had just seen, while others joining late were filling in the back of the venue for something a little lighter, but by no means less of a performance. Female fronted Forever Still were very much a rock band that didn’t do compromise. Very much a fan orientated band, they are honest and make sure they put out the best performance they could for an adoring crowd. They make full use of the stage, often moving from one side to the other and using the full depth for a very active performance, vocalist Maja puts her voice through every level of ability she can, from the soft gentle singing, to the very full on, emotionally charged scream. They may have seemed slightly out of place on the bill for those that like their music on the heavy or extreme sides, but they didn’t seem out of place one bit, with some fans actually content on the ticket price even if they saw just the two support acts. The guitars did sound a little thin, although this was partly due to the sound in the venue where the sound of the bass and bass drum seemed to take over, regardless it took nothing away from what would be the cleanest and most gentle performance of the night, with a very hypnotic band.
Crashing out of the box were the final act, a band that are currently celebrating 20 years since their first release, Something Wild. It is almost hard to fathom that Children of Bodom have been around for so long, they have been relentless through the years with many releases and gigs that it could make you wonder if the love for it all could still be there for them. There was nothing to worry about with that though, as the band comes to the stage one by one in dark lighting until finally the infamous Randy Rhoads concorde inspired ESP guitar shows itself slung over the shoulder of the all important man of the hour. With the debut album being played in full and tracks from the three following releases making their huge set, it was certainly an experience you wouldn’t have again.
With machine gun paced speed, the band smash through track after track, some which haven’t been done in a very long time, if even at all. It made no difference though, the crowd was as euphoric as can be, with Alexi and co mirroring the energy throughout the show. They put on a performance that proves why they have such a huge, loyal fan base as well as why that continues to grow. Since I have found myself listening back on their albums, albeit without the energy of the performance I witnessed Sunday night. They did prove that Children of Bodom will always be a force to be reckoned with, but something that night showed that they are more than just a force. Something tells me that their best days aren’t passed, but quite possibly just around the corner.