Due to a broken shoulder, cracked rib, and internal bleeding, Children of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho tapped out after a mere fifteen minutes on stage last Friday. The show’s host, a satellite-radio DJ with a cartoonish growl, goaded out a cheer for the Finnish cripple’s effort. But mostly the audience just groaned in frustration at Laiho’s weak explanation: he was injured when the group’s tour bus took an “irregularly harsh sharp turn.”
Of the five bands playing the No Fear Energy Tour, the well-tempered shredders of Children of Bodom are the only musicians who can trace heavy metal back to its virtuoso roots, before the unforgiving pace of 80’s thrash pushed the genre’s most devout practitioners deep underground. The rest of the groups–Municipal Waste, God Forbid, As I Lay Dying, and headliner Lamb of God–are the heirs apparent of bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, outfits that were more influenced by the emerging hardcore punk scene than by neo-classicists like Yngwie Malmsteen. The new generation’s most formidable organs (God Forbid, Lamb of God) are more creative about song structure and syncopated rhythms. And then there are the hangers-on–As I Lay Dying, say–who just seem stoked about getting MTV2 airplay.
Lamb of God had limbs flailing instantaneously with “In Your Words,” a wrecking ball of a song off Wrath. Drummer Chris Adler, whose 21-piece kit was the centerpiece of the band’s makeshift temple grounds, has more than the double bass drums up his sleeve; the audience went berserk when he started triggering an 808 kick, which doused the 3200-capacity ballroom in a sonic boom of low-end. Randy Blythe’s piercing gutturals were a highlight; he’s a screamer, but his vocals are under his fierce control–despite the incessant attack of the band, he managed to maintain some sense of dynamics and phrasing.
The pit was a meat grinder; pockets of moshing suddenly burst in and out of existence as violently as subatomic particles. A friend suffered two separate blows to the face, but still wasn’t sure if all the blood on his clothes had come out of his own nose. And at least one fan with a broken ankle required the attention of an EMT. Those who are serious about metal, evidently, don’t leave a gig early unless it’s on a stretcher.