This article is dedicated to Follow the Reaper, one of my first extreme metal albums, which I listened to numerous times. It taught me the pleasure of distorted vocals and that songs about murder could be fun and exciting. This article is dedicated to Children of Bodom — the brats of death metal.
In a recent article I discussed Amon Amarth as one of the gatekeepers to more extreme styles of metal for those trying to get into it. While this is true for many, Children of Bodom was mine and, from what I understand, has been for others as well. I think everyone goes through the same phase where they move away from this band and onto harsher things. Either that or they silently stand by the band as they continually put out terrible albums. I only say that because this Finnish melodic death band has really fucking let me down in the past decade.
Just like Amon Amarth, I understand the appeal of Children of Bodom. Take melodic death and add a strong power metal influence and center it around an insane amount of guitar solos. Throw in some slasher-esque imagery and repeat it over multiple albums without much deviation and one has Children of Bodom cornered. I have heard arguments that the band could be thought of as just a rough vocaled power metal band that is obsessed with Finnish true crime. This could be true as well. It is one of the only death metal bands that has pyrotechnics at their shows so they could be onto something. Following a disastrous half decade, the band returns with their 8th album and silently comes back into the arena of entertaining heavy metal.
Calling this a comeback album is strange as the band has literally not changed one thing. The same members have been around since 2003 and there has been no major shifts in writing. Solos still act as nails in a house built out of double kicks, breakdowns, and half grunts. There is still an obscene amount of synth, which not only dominates the rhythm section but solo arena. This whole thing can be heard, pretty much the same way, ten years prior. I think given a long enough timeline, Children of Bodom, along with AC/DC, could be a prime example of a band that could make the same album undeterred for eternity unless a hydrogen bomb ends what we know of the natural Earth. There is really nothing new about Halo of Blood except for the fact that it finally works like it used to.
Whatever the band has done since Relentless Reckless Forever has paid off because for a large portion of Halo of Blood things move without instance. “Halo of Blood” has a surprising black metal entrance before kicking into a high kicking groove. “Bodom Blood Moon” calls back instances of “Bed of Razors” from Hatebreeder and “Days are Numbered” is just an all around good and entertaining heavy metal song. “Scream for Silence” feels effortless with a great chorus. The most surprising strength in Halo of Blood is its ability to capture the same attention that was hallmark in the band’s first four albums. Whatever the band did, whether or not it was the right combination of drugs, sobriety, alcohol, detox, horror movies, Jesus, clean Finnish air, or designer clothes has worked. Just. Keep. Doing. the. Same. Thing. For. Ever
As much as I praise Halo of Blood, it is not without its flaws. The last half of the album slowly drags out the ending (with the special edition) with two covers of Loudness and Roxette, something that has always been Children of Bodom’s unhealthy vice. I would gladly give up all the Credence, Britney Spears, and Iron Maiden covers for one half decent song. Please take note in the future. Aside from some 80’s relapse covers, Halo of Blood picks right up where Hate Crew Deathroll left off. It is an enjoyable record that can be fun to listen to even if you have already graduated from this band. Go ahead. No one is looking. It will be just like old times.
CHILDREN OF BODOM
Album: Halo of Blood
Released: June 7th, 2013
Label: Nuclear Blast
Score: 6/9 Hammers