Review Summary: Children of Bodom's best album to date, the closest a power metal album has ever come to perfect, a true achievement.
Children of Bodom- Follow the Reaper
By now probably every soul that listens to metal knows who Children of Bodom are: possibly the most famous of all power metal bands. When their name is even merely mentioned to a metal listener I guarantee that they will know who they are, whether or not they believe Children of Bodom are amazing or not. Once, in the years previous to ’97, COB was performing under the band name Inearthed but, eventually, they changed their name to Children of Bodom. Following the name change, they released their first full length album, “Something Wild,” which was a huge success for a band just putting their name out there in the metal world. They continued their reign of success with their sophomore effort “Hatebreeder,” which in some minds, is considered their best release to date. In fact it is often argued that their third release, “Follow the Reaper,” does not measure up to the greatness of “Hatebreeder.” I strongly disagree with that statement; Children of Bodom has gotten substantially better since “Hatebreeder.”
Children of Bodom is:
Alexi Laiho- Vocals/ Lead Guitar
Alexander Kuoppala- Rhythm Guitar
Janne Warman- Keyboards
Henkka Seppälä- Bass
Jaska Raatikainen- Drums
Everyone who reads this review also probably knows who Alexi Laiho is, along with Children of Bodom. He has received the title of one of the fastest guitar players ever; he can riff so quickly it’s ridiculous, he’s like a machine that can play the instrument so fast that the strings vibrate off of the guitar. He also consistently plays really impressive and melodic guitar solos all throughout this album; Alexi is the future of shred guitars. But besides the guitars, there’s not much to be said about Alexi; his vocals fit the music, but they’re not necessarily good. The chorus in “Mask of Sanity” makes me headbang and go crazy every time, which is probably why it’s the only song with “good vocals” included. This is not to say that the lyrics are bad, because their very good and well-thought out.
So if you listen to the title track, you’ll pretty much have a good idea of what the whole album is like: melodic guitars, blazing drums, speedy keyboards, and harsh vocals. Possibly the only time the album changes from this “sound” is on “Mask of Sanity” (previously mentioned). Right at the bridge of the song, a heavy, crushing riff breaks into to your speakers with extreme bass. You could seriously kill someone while listening to this riff, it’s just that incredibly heavy; what I call the perfect breakdown. Not to say this song isn’t melodic, it’s just that the heavy riff is a change of pace, in a really good way. You’ll notice right after that bridge comes another amazing melodic guitar, which lasts about forty seconds before leading into the outro of the song.
The basic song structure of this whole album isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s enough to make each song stand out on their own as an individual song (especially “Hate Me!”). Normally each song pretty much consists of an amazing intro, followed by Alexi screaming loudly into the microphone. This is then continued with the chorus about two or three times, and then the bridge comes in and pretty much blows you away every time. Then the song outro kicks in, and this is where Children of Bodom gets very creative, as every song has an extremely varied ending and can sometimes really surprise you. In a lot of songs, there is also a keyboard, and believe when I say this: Warman is nothing short of insanely talented.
Throughout the entire album Warman plays fast, and well instrumented keyboard solos. Their always just as fast and melodic as Laiho’s guitar solos. Sometimes Warman will even play along with the melodies, and you won’t even notice because he plays them so well. If you haven’t seen videos on this guy playing live, I suggest you watch a few: he can play these solos with one hand! All I can say about the keyboards is that their well-executed and they help create some atmosphere and additional melodies, which is what Bodom is famous for. Now while Warman is talented, I can’t say much about Seppälä; this is not because he is not good, just because of the fact (once again metal for you) that the bass is practically inaudible, minus a few moments.
While the drums aren’t anything revolutionary or amazing, they definitely keep up the pace of the album. Raatikainen is almost always playing double bass the entire album, which is good, but I think he could be much more creative behind his drum set. But really, all he has to do is just keep up with the album, because that’s all he’s really needed for, but it would be really nice if he played some amazing drum rhythms and beats. In conclusion, nothing really exciting about the drums, just more average metal drums that you can find in many other bands.
“Follow the Reaper”- This song is just the definition of what this album is all about; it starts out with a little passage that’s supposed to be “Death” talking about how he is not powerful or dreadful. As soon as this passage ends, the riffing, blasting drums, and melodies begin to pierce your eardrums. This is then followed by a loud and powerful scream from Alexi, which then leads into the chorus (which has a memorable melody before it). The song then leads back into the ear piercing loudness, which then sends you into the chorus again. This all then leads into a really nice keyboard solo, and then an amazingly good guitar solo from Alexi. The song then goes back into the pre-chorus melody and then leads into the outro. Another passage is then said at the end of the song, “I was only twenty one when I died.”
“Children of Decadence”- This is by far the greatest song Bodom has ever created, it’s just perfect in every way, shape, and form. It has the perfect intro which will be stuck in your head for days, which then is followed by a pounding double bass beat. Guitars and the keyboard then break in with melodies that, once again, will also have you remembering this song for awhile. The song then enters the chorus, which is also perfect:
“You really thought you’d see through what I am and what I need
We are the children of rebellion, we’ll fight, we’ll bleed
Don’t try to come to preach over us and over me
We’re Children of Decadence
We’re right, we’re real, we will fight, we’ll bleed,
We’re a mother***ing dying breed”
I mean can you seriously read that and not say that Alexi’s heart and soul was poured into this song? The song goes into the chorus about two times and then enters probably one of the most amazing breakdowns ever made. A keyboard slams you in the face with a really addictive melody, and then the guitar breaks in again and blows you away with it’s almost, dare I say it, Slayer-sounding guitar solo. But it then quickly goes back to a melody, which then leads into the chorus for the third time. The band then ties up the song with a long, bloodcurdling scream and the main guitar riff.
“Mask of Sanity”- I’ve already talked enough about this song previously in the review, so you should get the idea.
“Hate Me!”- Starts out with probably the most memorable intro on the album, this song has like a…… Halloween feel to it at the beginning. Also the mains riff of this song is just really clean and thick; I can’t really explain it in words without going into too much detail. This is also one of the songs where there are parts that you can hear the bass guitar, especially at the beginning, which has a nice little bass opening in it. The lyrics on this song aren’t really that good, but the guitars are so good you probably won’t even notice them. So the same as always, two choruses then followed by yet another amazing bridge. This probably has the fastest guitar solo on the album in it, with a really good keyboard breakdown beforehand. The song then goes back to the pre-chorus, and then leads into a second breakdown, which has a slower solo, but it’s still really good. After the second bridge the song then enters it’s outro phase with pounding drums and chugging guitars, and then ends itself with Alexi screaming into the mic.
Overall this album is near perfect, and is my personal favorite from Children of Bodom. It features some of the best guitar solos I have ever heard in my lifetime, and it features the only keyboard solos I have ever heard, which is a plus. I suggest any fan of power metal, or just metal in general, go pick up this album and give it a listen. I guarantee it will sit in your stereo for weeks.
In conclusion, 4.5/5.