Try to envision for a moment that you're waking up in an unknown environment. You open your eyes slowly and look around. You appear to have been dropped roughly into a dumpster behind a meat packing facility. The smell of death and blood is inescapable. Then you notice yourself - clothes torn to shreds, your body battered and bruised, covered in blood that may or may not be your own. It's as if you tried to take on a team of bouncers outside a New York nightclub. All you can do is lay there - half-conscious, in constant pain, and a horrible feeling of what went on before you blacked out - and say to yourself, "What the fu
ck happened to me!?"
Chances are you had just finished listening to Follow the Reaper
for the first time. Children of Bodom's third album is like a violent roller coaster - it whips you around faster and harder than anything you've ever felt, but you just can't seem to get enough of it. Many have succumbed to this experience. Once you become familiar with the endless supply of incredible melodies, musical virtuosity, crushing heaviness, and vocals that would make Dead himself cringe, you'll realize that Children of Bodom is more than just another Scandinavian band. They are an insane experience that has come from the heart of Finland to pull you out of your comfort zone and into a land of pure fu
Let the record show that this will most likely be the only other album I ever give five stars.
Many may know this band from their past releases. Something Wild
, the debut, was a promising and somewhat experimental release with a heavy atmosphere and even a slightly black metal overtone. Even more popular was their second album, Hatebreeder
, which has become legendary for it's light speed guitar shredding and vocals that could strip the bark off trees. Hatebreeder
had set the bar for insanity; a bar that would surely never be beaten.
And while Follow the Reaper
doesn't exactly surpass that bar, it is most assuredly not a disappointment. Many consider this to be the best Children of Bodom album, myself included. While it is slower and more coherent than past releases, it excels greatly in the things we all love about the band. Alexi Laiho's incredible neoclassical shredding is here, and makes a presence as always. The catchiness of the melodies had increased tenfold. Kissing the Shadows
has become one of the most popular Bodom songs eve recorded, despite it's hasted construction in the studio. The unbelievably catchy guitar melodies topped by the mind-boggling guitar/keyboard shredding makes it a metal magnet. Mask of Sanity
is a fast metal anthem that comes at you like a well-aimed bullet making Hatebreeder
fans blush. As always, the keyboard/guitar insanity will leave musicians feeling as though they finally found their purpose in life. Bodom After Midnight
, while a step down in speed, has a chorus that you'll want to stretch your neck for before hearing. Hate Me!
features some of the most upbeat sounds on the album and has excellent guita/keyboard interplay. And to mix things up, the boys have thrown in a WASP cover - Hellion
is good old fashioned venture through the land of rock n' roll. The truth of the matter is, every song here is excellent. No two sound the same, the musicianship is impeccable, and they're just so da
It would be a crime to talk about a Children of Bodom album without giving credit where it's due. The musicians involved are top notch. Aside from vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho, keyboardist Janne Warman is a virtuoso that is arguably one of the best keyboard players in metal. Alexander Kuopalla, though he is no longer in the band, was always part of the family with his harmonizing skills and leads that are too often unheard. Jaska Raatikainen prefers to stand his ground in the background behind a drum set. His drumming is solid but not even close to what this guy is capable of. Bassist Henkka T. Blacksmith, as huge as he is, prefers to play with his own style rather than go super-technical like many metal bassists. He has accomplished just that.
To a metalhead, this album is an incredible display of technicality meets songwriting ability (Dream Theater fans will need to experience that ASAP :)). To a Children of Bodom fan, this record is nine tracks of Alexi Laiho's heart and soul; it's the pain and suffering he's experienced as a person. For me, this is more than 40 minutes of music. It's an album that changed me in a profound way and affected me in realms that stretch beyond music. So if you dare, grab your neck brace and give this album a listen. *Sputnik music cannot be held responsible for any neck damage sustained while headbanging* Sorry my friends, but I've already tried.
All of them