Review Summary: Semi-mindful technicality is just as bad as mindless technicality.
With their previous album, Are You Dead Yet?, CoB blew up in the United States. The Internet metal community was already abuzz with talk of them, but when you have a chain of stores like Best Buy heavily promoting your album, you know something is going 'right'. So, what better way to follow up the biggest success of your career than by releasing one of the most ridiculously un-power metal power metal albums ever, while also making it one of the worst things you've ever written.
Perhaps callings it un-power metal power metal is stupid, but it basically is. It isn’t fast and cheesy in any traditional sense, and has gone more into the realms of extreme metal (thrash, specifically) than any previous CoB release. Its certainly heavier and possibly even more technical than any album they have recorded to date, and Alexi’s voice has become even more harsh and black metal sounding. Its pretty much a dream come true for any Children of Bodom fan.
Unfortunately, anyone else is going to utterly hate it. The album is essentially a collection of fairly well wrung together riffs, mishandled keyboard parts, bass-heavy drumming and a singer whose voice just seems to have completely given out on him. While Alexi can still string together some solid riffs, he still can’t write a decent solo to save his life. What ends up happening because of this is all the good parts on the album (and believe me, they are few and far between) end up getting repeated to hell, and those moments that are obviously supposed to wow you end up being entirely underwhelming.
There are still some pretty solid moments to be had on occasion: the beginning of “Tie My Rope” goes from the keyboard segment into the actual song quite well. There are also some random sprinklings of true guitar greatness sprinkled throughout the song, as the final solo (somehow) in “Banned From Heaven” actually hits pretty hard. Of course, if your into mindless shredding and 37 straight minutes of technicality, then pretty much everything here is going to please you.
When you start looking for any more than that is when you start to see Blooddrunk crumble. The songwriting is laughable, even for a power metal band. Its as if they wanted to make interesting songs, but instead of making them interesting in context, they wanted to throw in as many random solos as possible while returning back to the main riffs as often as possible, with slight variations on said formula as the album goes on. The pure shred of the album actually makes it difficult to even discern any kind of patterns, and the songs never distinguish themselves from one another.
The biggest folly though, is the fact that Children of Bodom seem to take themselves so seriously. The singing, rather than being as outlandish as possible, seems to want to be taken seriously. While singing like your in a black metal band is a fine thing to do (the laughter that ensues is always worth it), it doesn’t work here due to the ridiculous keyboards. More prominent than ever, it isn’t in any kind of fun or complimentary way, but rather to try and make every song as “epic” as possible (in a post-rock/black metal way). While I commend Children of Bodom for trying to be a serious band, they need to learn to branch out of their bad habits before it will work.
I can’t lie, this album will probably be adored by Children of Bodom fans, and diehard power metal-ers will probably find some way to enjoy it. Hell, anybody who likes to wank to Dream Theater or Mastodon will probably tolerate this. However, to anyone who looks for more than pure technicality to their music, its probably going to be a horrific listen. A bad album in a dead genre, Blooddrunk is arguably the most disappointing release of 2008 so far, for the mere fact that if one band could actually make a unique power metal record at this point, its probably Children of Bodom. Too bad they took the easy way out instead.