Initially, I had very low expectations for Children of Bodom. My friend was really into them, but during his infatuation with every one of the band's records from Something Wild to their latest, Are You Dead Yet. I myself was more interested in the seclusion that bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Megadeth, and Avenged Sevenfold gave me, and didn't feel the need to listen to a band which screamed about hate and death. I gave Lake Bodom a listen, and while the vocals really killed it for me, the guitars and keyboards drew me back every now and then. Pretty big mistake on my part, I guess. It wasn't until much later that I gave the band a deserved, unbiased listen. Predictably, I loved it. That's how things usually turn out with me. Bodom's debut album, Something Wild, was the first Children of Bodom album I checked out, and remains a favourite to this very day, getting constant listens from yours truly. But what do I think about their other albums, you ask? Outstanding releases as well. The first one of these records to be released to the public was 1999's Hatebreeder. No sophomore jinx (if such things exist in music…) is apparent on this release, as listeners are treated to a fine 38 minute performance from the young Finnish quintet.
Much like their other albums, Hatebreeder is highlighted by Bodom's two strongest points. Their take on extreme power metal is a very impressive mix of shredding; thrashy riffs; neo-classical passages; melodic yet fast melodies; infectious keyboarding; and of course, am eerie atmosphere. Ok so that's all fine and dandy, but does it work? A resounding "HELL YES!" would be the only appropriate response to question such as that. Though their formula may seem too good to be true for some, Children of Bodom still manages to relentlessly pound out track after track after track without slipping up. Each track flows flawlessly from one to another and any momentum that is picked up by the band transfers excellently into the next song. The opener, Warheart, is a perfect example of the band's solid musical direction. When necessary, the speedy riffs from Alexi and Alexander are supported by the melodic keyboarding of Janne Warman, and vice versa. But saying that, Janne's keyboards do not mark a dip in the heaviness of the music. The riffs and leads still scream with the strength and power of a German power metal band and the aggressiveness of a thrash metal band. Though it may not be accessible for the masses, the music found on Children of Bodom's second effort should (and is, I guess) definitely be popular among the metal fans of the world.
The band's other strong point lies in the technical skill of its members. This is most apparent in the likes of Alexi 'Wildchild' Laiho, the guitarist and vocalist of the band. Not once does he cease to impress through his exceedingly impressive leads. Laiho's tactics take skill, speed, and power to the highest extremes, yet unlike some, he manages to hold off when such a performance would be harmful to the flow of the album. This is a talent that is not limited to Alexi, but is also shared by the rest of the band. Throughout the album, Laiho's shredding is fun to listen to, as not once does he let up on his relentless assaults. Yet in my opinion, Alexi is not the most impressive member of the band. That honour belongs to keyboardist Janne Warman. Never is he left in the dust by any of his band mates, as his speed and virtuosity are more than enough to make him stand out. When he isn't providing a very adequate rhythm to the music, Warmen can be heard soloing with that same strength and power found in Alexi's shredding. The keyboards really stand out during the second and third tracks, Silent Night, Bodom Night and Bed of Razors, where they maintain a very consistent presence in the music.
Children of Bodom is quite the talented band. While to those not immersed in the extreme metal may find them slightly difficult to get into, once you started liking the band, there's no going back. Hatebreeder is one of Bodom's essential albums, and should you find yourself liking the band, it's definitely an album worth looking into. Almost any type of metal fan could find something that they like in Hatebreeder, whether they're fans of power metal, thrash, black, or even death metal. Hatebreeder is a very memorable listen and while not my favourite album from Bodom, it's a very fun collection of music to listen to. Pick this up if you have the chance.
Silent Night, Bodom Night
Children of Bodom
Toward Dead End