I remember the first time I heard Children of Bodom
, so let me share it with you:
"(Browsing music videos on launch.com)...Hrmm, Children of Bodom
...well that sounds stupid. "Every Time I Die
"? Wow, did they just rip that name off that hardcore band or whatever? Eh, oh well. *Click*...(5 minutes later)...Wow, that sucked"
Yes, I admit it. The first time I ever heard Children of Bodom
, I thought they were pure garbage. I honestly can't remember why, but I know it was back when I was just starting to get into Metal, and they just didn't seem cool I guess. Over time, I forgot about them, until I came across and joined Sputnik Music
. It was, believe it or not, ShadowsFallen
review of this album I sit here listening to ("Are You Dead Yet?
") that sparked my re-interest to check them out again. I had my doubts, seeing as how I was, and still am, in the solo-craze mode where I desperately need a solo in each song to satisfy my craving, and I didn't know if Alexi could produce. So I forced myself to buy "Follow the Reaper
", which seemed to be hailed on here as their greatest. Needless to say, I was blown away. After bashing my head into a wall for 10 minutes to punish myself for believing they sucked, I went out the next day and bought "Are You Dead Yet?
", simply because they didn't have "Hatebreeder
Now, as most of you all know, Children of Bodom
are rather unique in the Metal community. Nobody else does, or possibly could sound like them. Infusing elements from Black, Death, Power, and even some Thrash at points, Children of Bodom
combines the best out of all of those genres to create a truly breathtaking musical experience. But over time, much like most Metal bands, their sound begins to progress. In Bodom's
case, it got heavier, less neo-classical, and more straight-up Metal sounding. And while some cried "Heresy!" at this, others such as myself ate it up in one big mouthful and wanted more.
The album kicks off with what almost does feel like one of those classical moments off "Hatebreeder
", due to the ominous sounding keyboard. However, very soon, the boys of Bodom
show you what's going on here, with some huge chugging riffs that one could only stomp their feet and headbang to at the same time. The song moves on to a more imaginative guitar riff, before it kicks straight back to the heaviness again with some huge thick riffs. The chorus by far is the best part of the song, incorporating a sense of melody to contradict the blasting guitars that throw out a variation here or there. The title track is just as interesting, as it starts off with guitars the throw out fills that I can only describe as almost Egyptian sounding in-between thumping drums. The verse is just some split out-second riffs that grind straight into your head. The chorus is even more melodic than "Living Dead Beat
" with more flowing guitars and a popping snare drum. "If You Want Peace...Prepare For War
" is easily the most brutal, thrashing song on the whole album. The song features hard hitting, slightly more straightforward riffs that, right before the verse, kick out for a second to let the bass have its one moment of glory by plogging away the next climbing riff before the guitars and drums join in. It's depressing that after three great songs, "Punch Me, I Bleed
" has to take it down a notch. The song is slow, and it seems bland and drags on. It attempts to be another "Angels Don't Kill
", but doesn't even come close. But "In Your Face
" wastes no time getting right back on track with some lock-step-crunch riffs (palm mutes (lock), pause, a few more palm mutes (step), and then a huge slam of ‘em (crunch)). I wish I could've seen the looks on some of the die-hard Bodom
fans when they heard this. It's simple, straight up, and heavy. No fancy guitar work and amazing lead and all that jazz, just plain old Metal blasted into your face.
"Next In Line
" seems to almost have a slight bit more a of a Power Metal formula that was previously shown on their past records due to the creative, intriguing guitars that flow and drift all over the place. The intro/verse parts are based off some quick slides that go right into a quick crunch of notes. But if an award for songs that sound like older Bodom
were to go out, they'd go to "Bastards of Bodom
" and "Trashed, Lost, and Strungout
". "Bastards of Bodom
" kicks off with some split-second riffs with a bass chugging along in-between. The keyboard takes a more dominant role that hasn't really been seen yet, which is played over a more straight-forward type riffing. The song incorporates a huge sense of melody throughout, which gives it that classic feel. The same can be said for "Trashed, Lost, and Strungout
" as it opens up with what I've felt sounded like a Thrash Metal riff before the fast-paced, balls-to-wall lead part is played over it. The guitars then take a back seat to the climbing keyboards, and then chaos is opened during the verses. The verses are extremely frantic, as the riffs are like machine guns, firing out left and right. The choruses are virtually the same chaotic feel. The final song is actually one of my favorites off the album, "We're Not Gonna Fall
" is a fist-pumping, hard hitting song. The opening riff is one of thick palm mutes that even feature some cool use of pinch-harmonics at some points. The verses will seem unpredictable to some at first, just because it goes from a seemingly straight-forward riffing to a full on assault of chopped riffs. After the crunching chorus, the bridge features just the drums with the keyboard playing an atmospheric number before the guitars come crashing right back in. A great way to end the album.
If you've heard Alexi play before, then you know one thing: The guy can solo. While they might not be that long (usually a mere 15-20 seconds), what the guy does in those short seconds is amazing. Shredding notes, great effects use, the whole 9 yards. Solos off of "Trashed, Lost, and Strungout
", "In Your Face
", and "Bastards of Bodom
" are just downright sheer brilliance from his fingertips. It's also awesome to hear the keyboard switch off solo parts with him, like when they turn "If You Want Peace...Prepare For War
" to an all-out solo brawl between Alexi and Janne as they switch back and forth constantly, each seeing to outdo the other. And while Janne's presence in the riffs isn't as apparent as before, his solos, like Alexi, are groundbreaking. I don't think I ever will hear another guy that can play a keyboard to make it sound like a guitar is soloing. His solos on tracks like "Living Dead Beat
" will make you think Janne is playing a flippin' guitar, that's how awesome they sound.
And then there's Alexi's voice. Just like a lot of vocals out there, you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. His past efforts on "Hatebreeder
" and "Follow the Reaper
" gave him more of a ‘Black Metal' style. However, as time progressed, which showed on "Hate Crew Deathroll
", his scream/growl became less dominant, and you could actually make out what he was saying. And such is the case here. I feel this is his best vocal performance to date, with a screeching voice that you can actually understand what he is saying. And to combine his kind of voice with the song to create a sense of melody is no small feat. All of these songs contain huge amounts of melody, especially "Are You Dead Yet?
" and "Bastards of Bodom
His lyrics, too, have also improved. Let's take a look at some of past efforts real quick: "The reaper's shadow I fall upon to obscure my path, Every day I'm being battered up until I bleed. You mother***as just leave me be, Ya could never give me cure for the pain I feel inside
" came off of the track "Hate Me!
", and as you can see, they're a little bit cheesy. But that's not really the case here. Evolution is the key to the lyrics here. Take a look at the title track, with my favorite Bodom
lines: "Enemy, take a one good look at me. Eradicate what you'll always be, Your tainted flesh, polluted soul through a mirror I behold. Throw a punch, shards bleed on the floor, Tearing me apart but I don't care anymore. Should I regret or ask myself, Are You Dead Yet?
". They're a huge step up from his previous work. However, older moments shine through, and they're actually quite welcome. On "In Your Face
", Alexi goes back to his "Fuc
k You!" type lyrics, with some cool (but laughable) saying of "I don't give a flying f*ck, motherf*cker!
", which is repeated over and over. And his love for lyrics involving the Reaper haven't been lost either. On "Bastards of Bodom
" Alexi screams out "Just go to Hell, by the edge of my scythe!
If there were really only two things that could bring this album down besides the song "Punch Me, I Bleed
", it would be the lack of a dominant bass and the drumming. Let me start off first with the bass. While it does have its moments like on "If You Want Peace...Prepare For War
" where it's by itself, it's not enough. I wanted some great bass licks, like what was done off of "Warheart
". So sadly, the bass could do a lot more here than just follow along. And while the drumming is good quality, it's not amazing or anything. While the fills that Jaska does on tracks like "In Your Face
" and "Living Dead Beat
" are all good stuff, I've come to learn that when the music gets heavier, and more simplistic, the drummer should kick it up a few notches. I'm in no way saying Jaska is a horrible drum; in fact, he's quite good. I just wished I could've gotten more out of him, just like Henkka on bass.
This is one hell of an album. Because of this, I was able to delve deeper into the wonderfully talented world of Children of Bodom
. And while the one song "Punch Me, I Bleed
" is quite bland, and the drum/bass package isn't that strong, Alexi's guitar work/vocals/lyrics, Janne's great keyboard work, and some great songs completely make up for it. Do yourself a favor and pick this up if you haven't already. Good stuff here, good stuff.
Living Dead Beat
Are You Dead Yet?
If You Want Peace..Prepare For War
Trashed, Lost, and Strungout
We're Not Gonna Fall