Friday, 7 June 2013

Review; Children Of Bodom - Halo Of Blood

Track Listing:

1. Waste Of Skin
2. Halo Of Blood
3. Scream For Silence
4. Transference
5. Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)
6. The Days Are Numbered
7. Dead Mans Hand On You
8. Damaged Beyond Repair
9. All Twisted
10. One Bottle And A Knee Deep

It must be admitted that I approached this album wearily. Despite the fact that Children Of Bodom are a well established extreme metal band, and have some truly great albums and song to their name, their more recent albums have been rather bland sounding to me. As such, I wasn't exactly bursting with excitement when this record was announced. The albums 'Blooddrunk' and 'Relentless Reckless Forever' had their moments, but were nothing compared to the likes of 'Follow The Reaper' and 'Hate Crew Deathroll'. At best here, I was hoping for an album that reminded me of 'Are You Dead Yet?'.

The album comes in with a strong riff and some S-Class soloing from Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala. The thing that strikes the ears and perks my interests up from the start is that the band sound hungry again. There is an urgency to the performances on show by everyone that suggest the band have tried to sharpen their teeth for this album. The title-track comes charging in with an unearthly Black Metal riff that seems like something from the love-it-or-hate-it 'Hatebreeder' album. The song itself is solid, and one can't help but feel that recording in their native Finland had influenced Laiho and Co. to write this song.

'Scream For Silence' has beginnings that remind us Children Of Bodom don't just play at stupidly fast speeds all the time, and shows off their strong song writing capabilities. It's also a rare display of lead guitar work that doesn't feel like showing off, which the band have been prone to do over their career. No note here seems unnecessary. Alexi Laiho is also on good vocal form, with his somewhat thin, yet powerfully projected screams bearing great melodies. The previously released single 'Transference' takes me back to the band's best moments; it's a ridiculously catchy song built on awesome riffs and great keyboard embellishments. A high point for sure, and a great, memorable guitar solo that'll have shredders round the world dropping their jaws. 'Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)' and the great 'The Days Are Numbered' continues this momentum and there's a feeling that Children of Bodom have started to find the song writing quality that has been amiss from their last two, somewhat forgettable albums.

Equally refreshing is the fact that where a lot of Bodom's recent songs have sounded like music tutorials by guys with massive egos, the songs on this album are actually fun and rewarding to listen to. An element much forgotten on metal albums by the technically-minded musician. A good example is the ballad-like 'Dead Man's Hand On You'. Yes, it does bring things down from the high-speed assault of the first six tracks, but its a decent quality song in its own right.

Without a doubt the best riff on the album comes in the song 'Damaged Beyond Repair' which has a fast-picked chugging riff that will get any metal crowd banging their heads with conviction. The whole band is on consistent form, and the mix through the whole album is great, with no one thing hogging the spotlight. With so many parts to the collective, this is a testament to the production skills of Peter TÃĪgtgren. The songs themselves show everything melding together well as a singular unit, with no hints that any one band member is vying for attention.

The penultimate song 'All Twisted' has its moments, including a good keyboard/guitar trade-off solo and an interesting staccato riff before the last chorus, but is definitely a weaker point that doesn't have the same staying power as other songs on the album. 'One Bottle and A Knee Deep' starts off slow, but picks up as it continues, with a gratifying show of double-bass drumming at the chorus that kicks a whole lot of ass.

There is a lot on this album to show that the band have the potential to write another timeless album yet, and while the test of time is yet to be stood, 'Halo Of Blood' is a great Children Of Bodom album, and reminds us all why the band have gained such an esteemed reputation thus far. Is it as good as 'Hate Crew Deathroll'? No, it's not, to be honest. It might not be held up as an essential metal release, but 'Halo Of Blood' is a must-hear album for 2013, and is definitely deserving of your time. You wont be sorry, either.

Rating: 7/10

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