Finnish metal is a breed of its own: more melodic than that produced in some other Scandinavian countries, more humorous, more apt to allow non-metal influences to reveal themselves. Children of Bodom has been one of the bands leading the Finnish charge for nearly 20 years and now, with the group’s first album as a quartet and first without longtime guitarist Roope Latvala now ready for our ears, one things become clear: Children Of Bodom is as thrilling as ever maybe even more so than before.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Alexi Laiho prowls the sonic landscape like a panther stalking prey across numbers such as “Morrigan”, “My Bodom (I Am The Only One)” and “Widdershins”, his lead guitar lines as stinging and bright as they’ve ever been, each one the sound of an insatiable hunger for heaviness. Bands can be heavy and angry this deep into their catalogues but they’re not supposed to sound this starved for success but this lot has never been one to do things by the books and that lack of conformity and sheer bravery has been one thing that has been absolutely consistent throughout.
Of course the band is not down to just Laiho: the rhythm section of Henkka Seppala and drummer Jaska Raatikainen does it darkest best throughout, but especially on the aforementioned “Widdershins”, the title track (which also features Janne Wirman delivering some mind-blowing leads), and “Hold Your Tongue”. (Dig the drum-guitar interplay that occupies the first 10-20 seconds).
More remarkable is Bodom’s reluctance to only have heavy figure into the game plan. This record’s “Suicide Bomber” is as memorable for its weightiness as it is its symphonic beauty and ability to marry pit-starting riffs with truly inspiring dynamic passages. It’s hard to imagine that it won’t find a near-permanent place in future live sets. The same might be said (we hope) for the nearly six-minute “All for Nothing”, a tune that’s best heard via headphones.
Of course no Finnish band would be a Finnish band without a sense of humor and so the deluxe edition features not one but three cover tunes—Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”, “Mistress of Taboo” (Plasmatics) and the Amorphis tune “Black Winter Day”. Those are cool for hardcore fans (as is the Japanese edition take on Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer”) but most of those can probably wait for those to surface on a rarities collection as the true album—all ten songs—stand strong enough on their own.
Internet rumblings have suggested that the 2015 departure of Latvala would either have a great or little impact on the band and the truth is that although his presence will surely be missed during live shows, Laiho’s is more than enough to get fans through the storm. I Worship Chaos isn’t necessarily the best Children Of Bodom album but it’s as good as the best of what the band has done to date and nine albums in that’s remarkable. In the end, it’s a record that’s easy to recommend and even a good starting point for those coming late to the party.
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