Review Summary: Kind of like Children of Bodom minus the keyboards but with better vocals.
Kimberly Goss - Vocals
Alexi Laiho - Guitars
Roope Latvala - Guitars
Marco Hietala - Bass
Tommi Lillman - Drums
In the late 80s a band by the name of Stone came out of Finland, they were a thrash metal band and one of the most important bands in that country’s limited(at the time) musical history. Many aspiring musicians were influenced by Stone and the explosion of the genre in Finland can be attributed in many ways to Stone. One young man who was influenced by Stone and specifically by Roope Latvala’s guitar work was Alexi Laiho who would go on to form his own band: Children of Bodom. When Sinergy, a band formed by Alexi’s girlfriend and future wife Kimberly Goss, lost it’s guitarist (In Flames’ Jesper Strömblad) it was the perfect opportunity for Alexi to work with the guitarist who was so influential to him: Roope Latvala.
“To Hell and Back
is what you would expect as far as musician ship with those two great guitarist and Marco Hietala of Tarot and later, Nightwish on bass. Kimberly Goss is a powerful vocalist and although Tommi Lillman is the least known of the five, he does an admirable job on drums. Unlike many female-fronted metal bands, Kimberly Goss is neither a growler like Angela Gossow or an operatic vocalist like Tarja Turunen, she is more of a power metal vocalist with similarities to Tarja without the operatic styling.
Kimberly opens the album with a grating scream of “Listen up everybody because the bitch is back!”
and from the start, the guitar work is put on display as well as Kimberly’s powerful vocals. The opening riff to “Midnight Madness” is one of the album’s best along with the outstanding guitar soloing on “Gallowmere.” The heavy and melodic riffing is consistent throughout the album so when “To Hell and Back”
does falter it’s because of because of the vocals as on “Return to the Fourth World” where Kimberly alternates between singing and almost talking and the non-sensical lyrics of “Last Escape”: “No time to waste, must annihilate (your virus spread among them) seal the gate, time to detonate.”
The final proper track “Wake Up in Hell” gets the album back on track with it’s depressive lyrics delivered with much passion. Sinergy closes out the album on a more lighthearted note with a cover of Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone” not surprising considering the covers that Chlidren of Bodom have done(Britney Spears"!).
Though and through, “To Hell and Back”
is really the Alexi and Roope show, with modern day guitar god Alexi trying to upstage(or at least impress) his hero. This friendly battle among the guitarist however does not interrupt the basic structure of the songs, they walk a fine line between impressive musicianship and all-out guitar wankery. It makes sense that when Children of Bodom lost a guitarist, Roope was called in to join them. An outstanding album that any fan of Alexi’s guitar playing should check out and as a bonus, you don’t have to hear his voice!
Wake Up in Hell
Lead us to War