Review Summary: Awesome guitar work does not equal awesome music, I am terribly sorry Alexi.
Metal has so many varieties of what seems like almost the same thing. Sometimes it hardly makes that much of a difference, bands blend together while being classified differently; it seems as if there are more genres of metal than there are bands. Among these many is Children of Bodom, a band that, while shouldn’t really be debated over too much, is. Being called a mixture of Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal, Neo-Classical Metal, and even Black Metal of all others, the band could have easily been classified as Extreme Power Metal. Still, the band had created something somewhat unique at their time of conception, Epic Power Metal with every brutal detail of Extreme Metal, it was genius. But the sad reality is, like band of the future Dragonforce, they were really just a one template band that made each song a tiny variation on that one template. Even the band’s supposed classic album Follow The Reaper suffers from this same songwriting problem, and because of that, it still falls short.
Undoubtedly, the major members of Children of Bodom are extremely technically talented. Alexi Laiho’s guitar playing graces over you with gloriously glossy tech metal riffing, with high pitched arpeggios and two handed tapping galore, while typical power metal ‘Nintendo 64’ keyboards grace the music as well. Most of the main verse riffs are lower pitched chugs, while solos are normally grandiose ‘classically-inspired’ works of sheer guitar practice.
Here is where at least one of the problems arises: the songwriting absolutely sucks. Each song is a full bang-out of riffs, solos, and such, none of which hold any feeling or form of emotion. Sure, it’s completely exhilarating for about four or five songs, but after that it just gets tiring, as everything is at the same pace and pitch. By the end of Follow the Reaper you are not only mind numbingly bored, but you are also a little ticked because you still could have had a liking for CoB if you had only just kept listening to the one song of theirs you loved.
But hey, for most fans of Power Metal, repetition really isn’t that much of a problem. I mean sure, the riffs are repeated, but there still amazing riffs, and as a fan of Ronnie James Dio, I can somewhat agree with these fans. That is, if it weren’t for one thing. Remember when I told you there was one more factor of Follow the Reaper simply not a good album? Well, that comes from technically proficient guitarist Alexi Laiho’s voice. He’s an awful vocalist, really. He croaks and squirms his way through an entire album with a voice that already sounds hoarse, screaming and shouting while switching pitches from high to mid, if I were to compare Alex’s voice to anything, it would probably be that of Hyena with a throat disease.
Which takes me to this point and this point only: I would approve of this entire album if Children of Bodom, in all their glory, had actually come up with a great song instead of a string of great riffs. Sadly, no song here stands as that, instead they stand as technically masterful works of brutally epic metal, none of which translates as a decent work of song craft (much like, again, Dragonforce from the future). Follow The Reaper is great for a guitarist or a power metal keyboardist, but not for anyone else unless they really want to get into metal and really don't care about pure songs. Follow The Reaper once again proves that tons of technicality doesn’t necessarily equal album, and too much of a good thing can be disastrous.
"Follow The Reaper"
"Children of Decadence"