Review Summary: "Bodoming So Hard Right Now Like It Is 2006 All Over Again"
For the past decade, Children of Bodom has been a much maligned band within the metal community. And to be honest, much of the criticism is to be deserved. Aside from a couple of songs off both Blooddrunk and Reckless Relentless Forever, the band has made two subpar efforts. Many point to Are You Dead Yet? (which is actually the last good Bodom album) as the beginning of the end for these Finns. What happened to the neoclassical/power metal shredding that was such a focus of Hatebreeder and Follow the Reaper? That black metal influence in Something Wild was even further gone. Bodom turned into a crappy thrash metal band with a smidge of keyboard and a croaking vocalist and looked completely lost. Thankfully the band brings back some of what made them an amazing band in the late 90s and early 00s in Halo of Blood
Opening track “Waste of Skin” starts off with a riff that finally shows the essence of Bodom for the first time since Hate Crew. For me the main selling point of Bodom was always the killer guitar work with Alexi and Roope playing gorgeous, yet brutal, riffs and solos. From the beginning they return and help in creating one of the best tracks on the whole album. However, the thrash elements that the band introduced to their sound eight years ago are not completely abandoned. Fortunately they are sparingly used throughout most of the songs because as “Thrash Bodom” has proved….well they kinda suck. A return to flailing keyboards and flying fingers creating melodies to get stuck in a listener’s ear after they initially listen to the song is a sign of fresh air. The self-titled track even reckons back to Something Wild as a conglomeration of the band’s early black metal influences to go with the power metal ones. Alexi even proves on this song that his voice is not fully gone as he gives one of his best vocal performances.
Essentially this album is a Bodom album, but there is one song is less Bodom than normal: “Dead Man’s Hand on You.” With the first minute of the song I did not know if I was listening to a Children of Bodom song, or In Flames (in their prime). Undoubtedly the most unique song on the album, and quite possibly their entire career, “Dead Man’s Hand on You” is a nice break from the balls out tempo that the album had portrayed up to this point and might be one of the better songs the band has ever written; it is that good.
Halo of Blood
is a complete surprise for this reviewer. Much like Dragonforce last year, Children of Bodom returned to form and created an album that fans of their older (and only good) material can reminisce about and maybe enjoy. Do not get me wrong though, this is not as good as the band’s first four albums. While there is not really a bad song on here, tracks like Transference and All Twisted are not as memorable as a Children of Decadence or The Nail. Nonetheless, Children of Bodom has created an album that is infinitely better than their previous two efforts and is most likely better than Are You Dead Yet? I had little hope coming into the album, and with good reason. The band was stringing itself along: a lack of creativity in songs, Alexi’s voice being beyond shot, and making records just to make records created a lingering lull that looked like the band was done. Hope was restored with this record though. Children of Bodom have proved that they are not dead and can still churn out great albums, even if it takes them a decade to do so.