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Bestowed with the honour of opening act on Children of Bodom's current European tour, Diablo are largely an unknown entity within the UK scene. Handpicked by Bodom themselves, the metal quartet have already achieved great success in their home country with 2006 album 'Mimic47' reaching number one in the Finnish national charts and its successor, last year's awesome 'Icaros', number two. Originally formed in 1995, Diablo have rarely ventured outside Finland, so this tour has presented them with an invaluable opportunity for exposure to a series of large audiences around Europe, many of whom will probably be experiencing their music for the first time. Appearing on stage just before 7:30pm, Rock City's main hall is already two thirds full as people cheer loudly to greet the Finnish metallers. Playing a half hour set, Diablo's engaging fusion of retro/modern metal is warmly received as Bodom fans (and even some wearing Cannibal Corpse t-shirts) pump their fists in the air and move enthusiastically to the groove of the Finns' up-tempo music. Tracks aired from the latest album, particularly the title track and 'Living Dead Superstar', engender the biggest response, and a lively stage presence ensures visual interest in their performance. Rainer Nygård oozes confidence as a frontman and demonstrates his finely honed skill of singing/playing simultaneously which one can only admire considering the disjointed rhythms constituting some of the riffs. Alluding to his hero and perhaps inspiration, he even dedicates a song to Chuck Shuldiner which receives loud cheers from most present. With a fantastic sound through the PA for the duration of their set, Diablo undoubtedly win over many new fans this evening, and deservedly so for the old-school/modern dichotomy in their fast-paced compositions is exhilarating in the live context. Let's hope they have future opportunities to tour in the UK as I, for one, will most certainly be present.
Tuesday 17th February 2009
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
With an impressively quick fifteen minute change over time, it seems in only a blink of an eye that Cannibal Corpse are onstage bombarding the audience's senses with their unrelenting heavy death metal discharge. With minimalist lighting, which proves difficult for photography although apposite for the 'mood', the Floridian extreme music maestros work their way through a forty five minute set of both classics and material from stunning new release 'Evisceration Plague'. 'I Cum Blood', 'Fucked with a Knife' and, of course, 'Hammer Smashed Face' sound as crushingly heavy played live in 2009 as they did in their original conception, while the new album's title track and 'Priests of Sodom' prove that the Cannibal ones are still capable of writing/performing effectively heavy music and remain a dominant force within the extreme music scene. It is difficult to believe that the American deathsters formed just over twenty years ago, although refreshing to see that they still appear as passionate and enthusiastic on stage as in their early days. There is certainly no "going through the motions" here as they energetically headbang through the entire set, with the crowd reciprocating in a display of mosh pit pandemonium (which perhaps peaks in its ferocity with the ever popular 'Hammer Smashed Face'). George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher is a formidable frontman, standing tall centre stage and growling every debauched lyric in his inimitable style; Alex Webster plays his bass at extraordinarily fast speeds (a death metal virtuoso?); drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz has lost none of his 'bite' over the years and performs with great precision; while guitarists Rob Barrett and Pat O'Brien demonstrate their skilful fretboard widdlings with a barrage of heavy riffs and lead flourishes. Collectively, the quintet treat the audience to a masterful display of death metal as it should be played - succinct, hard-hitting and brutally heavy. Let's hope another twenty years lie ahead for one of extreme metal's pioneering bands. Excuse the paradox, but long live the Corpse!
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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The last time I saw Children of Bodom was their headlining show at the Bloodstock 2004 indoor festival and, while remember being impressed, their overall performance was slightly marred by a fairly muddy sound. Up to that point, at least in my opinion, they'd released four strong studio albums, although I've been less enamoured with their last two efforts. However, I was intrigued to find out how the newer material would translate live. When the intro music kicks in, Napoleon XIV's 'They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!', eager fans begin to cheer loudly which erupt into screams as band members appear on stage one at a time. Commencing with the opening number from 'Blooddrunk', 'Hellhounds on my Trail', swiftly followed by 'Living Dead Beat' from 2005's 'Are You Dead Yet?', I am immediately impressed by the penetratingly heavy delivery of these tracks, which work far better than their recorded versions. Then ensues a fairly varied set with songs drawn from all six of their albums to date. It is refreshing to hear the likes of 'Silent Night, Bodom Night', 'Sixpounder', 'Downfall', 'Bed of Razors' and even an airing of early track 'Lake Bodom', the latter for which many in the crowd cheer loudly when its announced, and judging by the youthful appearance of many present, they must have only been five or six years old when 'Something Wild' was first released! As tight and virtuosically impressive as Bodom are tonight their performance is far from flawless - there is a distinctly bass heavy sound through the PA which dampens the incisiveness of the guitars; frontman Alexi Laiho seems insistent on talking to the audience between songs in an American accent and his overuse of the word "fuck" becomes a little corny (seems to impress the teenagers though); plus proceedings don't flow as fluently as they could due to band members frequently walking to the back of the stage for a minute or so between most songs to swig water/beer, leaving the set unnecessarily non-contiguous. Further, although Rock City is still fairly rammed, it's not quite as busy as earlier, which leads me to think that perhaps many just turned out to see the mighty Cannibal Corpse. Still, with all that said, Bodom play an undeniably solid set. Although I find myself admiring the virtuoso musicianship at times rather than getting lost in the music, the talented Finns are out to entertain, and they certainly manage to do that. Matters climax with second encore number 'Hate Crew Deathroll', which seems to have been adopted as their 'theme song' since its release in 2003, and Bodom receive ubiquitous cheers and applause as they exit the stage. Impressive overall although not quite as polished as one would expect.
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