Review Summary: Relentless Reckless Forever is a step up from Blooddrunk, yet still walks on paths that have been well-trodden over the past several years
The basics behind Children Of Bodom’s sound haven’t changed since Blooddrunk
, an album almost universally panned by critics across the spectrum; a move that doesn’t put the Finns’ latest album Relentless Reckless Forever
in a good position from the get-go. The album still has one foot in the door in regards to the tactics employed on Blooddrunk
to bring about an accessible amalgamation of power, thrash and melodic death metal to the masses who followed in the wake of its release. Here’s the thing, though, and the one aspect that makes Relentless Reckless Forever
worth mentioning- the other foot is firmly planted on the other side of the threshold. There is the slight re-kindling of a flame that began to wane upon the release of 2005’s Are You Dead Yet?
, a fire that lifted Children Of Bodom up to the level of relative commercial success they enjoy today. It’s not a blazing inferno whatsoever, no, metaphorically it’s not more than a small campfire, but the fact is that Children Of Bodom are beginning to change, but haven’t yet figured out where to store all of their excess baggage.
The album is torn drastically between the accessibility of Blooddrunk
and the much-heralded back catalogue of Follow The Reaper
and its ilk. In terms of songwriting on a broad scale Relentless Reckless Forever
is washed-out: completely unoriginal in a starkly “been-there-done-that” fashion that detractors of the band will loathe and fans of their early albums will cite as more of the same that Children Of Bodom have been shelling out for over five years. Tracks like “Pussyfoot Miss Suicide” are drenched in the style and aura of new Children Of Bodom, while songs like “Shovel Knockout” hint at a sound long since abandoned. The upbeat and, quite frankly, catchy chorus and dueling keyboard/guitar solo are fragments torn straight from Hate Crew Deathroll
, entwined in a premise emphasizing the current attitude of the band; a sweet and sour combination, of sorts. The guitars of Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala create a whole lot of similar-sounding riffs and tiresome chords exemplified by the album’s train-wreck of a single “Was It Worth It?” that slams Laiho’s degrading vocals next to useless riffs and an awful guitar solo.
It’s unfair to plaster the album as a carbon copy of its single, because that plainly is not the case. The album begins with a bang with the riff-laden “Not My Funeral” and proceeds to slowly tumble downhill from there. Relentless Reckless Forever
slides down a slippery slope, eventually resorting to the same kind of cannon fodder found on Blooddrunk
and Are You Dead Yet?
by way of re-hashed and lazy songwriting and performances by each band member that aren’t close to what they have shown they are capable of. The groove of some riffs seems like a façade for their severe lack of originality; a tool used to get listeners to bob their head without thinking if they’ve done the same to a similar riff sometime in the past. The guitar solos are a blur for the most part, each one sounding eerily similar to the last, never doing something other than unabated shredding up and down the high frets with blazing speed but absolutely no finesse. Never does the pace dip below moderately fast, and by the album’s end you will be nearly chomping at the bit for a song that takes its time.
What Relentless Reckless Forever
boils down to is a pair of decent, if not good, songs at the beginning, several painfully average songs in the middle, and a mish-mash of mediocrity at the end. It’s as if Children Of Bodom set out with a mission while writing the first two tracks before getting drunk and forgetting about everything they were trying to do, so instead wrote some songs that sounds like, well, everything else they’ve released since Are You Dead Yet?
. Is it a surprise? In a sense, yes, that they had the audacity to hint at something that nobody really expected before plummeting willfully right into the arms of the abysmal expectations that had been grabbing hastily at them. Relentless Reckless Forever
is nothing more than a new Children Of Bodom album rendered in the new Children Of Bodom style. It has one foot out of the door from the cage that Blooddrunk
had locked itself in, but stubbornly cannot lift the other foot from the place it has grown to be comfortable in.