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Nearly a decade ago, I put my proverbial pen to paper and appraised the then-new Are You Dead Yet? for the first time, naturally looking at it based on where the band stood at that time. Now nine years later, I can look back and claim that I was mostly on point, which is somewhat surprising given the inconsistent amount of shade thrown upon it by the four releases since. I claimed that many tunes later in the procession were mere "vehicles for solos" without much individual clarity of thought or purpose, and that the lack of keyboards marred an otherwise leaden and powerful experience. All of these points stand, to one degree of another, along with the foresight of knowing how much worse the band would sound later on.
A theme in many of my later reviews for these guys is the lack of memorability concerning the melodic aspect itself. While Laiho's true intentions concerning the injection of a more groove-centric, harsher and chunkier sound may never be known, the bottom line is that this only became a problem after Are You Dead Yet? While the keyboards are far too truncated at times, Wirman maintains a dexterous finger, natural considering he was coming off a career-best performance on Hate Crew Deathroll. An overall epic sound is achieved on tunes like "Next in Line," with an almost sing-along refrain backed by a simple but memorable keyboards. This could easily fit on Follow the Reaper, if not for the clangy and percussive sound of the record overall. Honestly, it augments many of the groovier riffs in a huge way the thinner production of earlier material couldn't. This is best experienced on "Trashed, Lost & Strungout," which while perhaps the most modern sounding song here, wholly succeeds on that front. Jaska's tight and scattering fills and simpler beats add a lot to an otherwise spartan (for Children of Bodom) tune.
Other carryovers include the obligatory slower, more menacing bruiser "Punch Me, I Bleed." While undeniably inferior to both "Angels Don't Kill" and "Everytime I Die," it still displays how effective Children of Bodom can be on more mid-paced fare, a damning blow to those who harangue the band for supposedly being all high-speed flash and no substance. The vocals can be a problem, and while Laiho's earlier ramblings were cheesy in an endearing way, here it feels like a bad joke. The way he tends to hang on the worst lines really drags otherwise solid numbers down like "In Your Face." While remainders like "Bastards of Bodom" do indeed feel like mere vehicles for solos, I find most of this album more memorable than anything that came after it. Blooddrunk felt like the sonic equivalent of the band reattaching their recently shed old skin; just an unpleasant execution overall. Even the supposed return to form Halo of Blood had those rushed, unsatisfying melodic resolutions that Are You Dead Yet? does not share.
After I Worship Chaos, it really sets the stage to show us all what Are You Dead Yet? could have been, and thankfully was nowhere near. I think people need to revisit this one and give it another chance courtesy of the cynical rose colored glasses they now wear and see how it holds up; they might be surprised. Sure, the lead patterns may lack the incessant complexity of something like "Kissing the Shadows," but they all sound fleshed out and powerful. I don't know, I just can't hate this one; not then, and not now.
Coming to review a Children of Bodom album on Encyclopaedia Metallum - and particularly reviewing this album now, nearly 10 years on - feels rather like getting together with that girl/guy who's already slept with most of the town. You know that they've already experienced just about everything, they've been called all the names ('Are You Dead Yet?' has seen the whole scale, from terrific to terrible), and there might not be much else you can add. But, damnit, you're just too curious to pass up the opportunity. You just want to see what it's like. And to be quite honest, I really do think that it could be different with me. I haven't seen many reviews that speak anything near to what I think and my take on Bodom seems to wildly vary from many fans on this site.
Two things need to be said here. Firstly, I've never 100% got CoB, not in the sense that I don't find their music enjoyable or understand the reason for adopting their unique style, but because their songs are so full of rough edges to me that I've never been able to become really comfortable with the band. What I mean by this is that the fusion of neoclassical power metal and more extreme forms of metal (primarily melodeath, whatever all these guys shouting about black metal might think) is a fucking fantastic idea and has so much to offer, since it turns both subgenres completely on their heads; but - BUT BUT BUT - I can't find a good reason to let Alexi Laiho's crappy voice and crappy lyrics piss on the hyperspeed flow (at their best CoB flow) and shred-happy tendencies of such a phenomenolly capable band. How do I say this in another way? Would you let Robb Flynn sing a Megadeth song? That's what I thought. This band is all about finesse in the frenzy, but if Laiho insists on playing off the "wild child" image he's created and sounding like Johnny Rotten's death-crust little brother who's turned against himself, there isn't a lot of finesse going on in that department, and the frenzy is pretty childish too. Remember when CoB recorded 'Something Wild' without actually writing any lyrics? That's pretty much three quarters of every CoB album from where I stand. Ok, that's the bulk of my frustration done.
The second thing I need to own up to is that 'Are You Dead Yet?' was my first CoB album. That's maybe for the best, because the first three albums were probably too chaotic for me to handle back then, but it also means that I didn't have any illusions about virtuouso playing or what "pure" Bodom was. There definitely seems to be less technicality on this album than the preceding ones, but I think that's partly down to a small shift in style and a few tweaks of the production. It's already been noted that the keyboards are less in evidence and there's a noticeable attack at modern metal - dare it be said, more commercial metal - with a gruffer, meatier guitar sound and a few groovier riffs. The best examples of this shift are 'Next in Line' which has those unthinkable bass plunges in a hugely dynamic groove riff that ends the song and 'Punch Me I Bleed' which stalls and chugs along like a terminally ill latter-day Helloween. In case it's not obvious, I rate the former but not the latter. 'If You Want Peace...Prepare For War' would also have stuck out like a dick at a picnic on previous albums, but it fits just fine here.
There is one benefit to all these changes. Bodom purists be damned, but sometimes the songs on 'Follow the Reaper' could be just too busy and chaotic, which isn't quite the same as saying that they made me thrash like mad - more like they gave me motion sickness. The guitar tone on 'Are You Dead Yet?', as well as the bass tone that really gives it some ballast, files off one of the sharp edges of CoB's sound and just about provides room for Laiho's gnarly vocals to rip up my ears. Weighing up the slightly more restrained and less trebly riff set with the space in the mix where the keyboard flourishes used to be, the more conventional band sound actually gives focus back to song progression, which sometimes CoB have been guilty of neglecting. Thus, while not every song here is a killer and can't be dragged up so much by great solos, 'Are You Dead Yet?' actually has the most memorable songs of Bodom's career in 'Living Dead Beat' and 'In Your Face', both of which feel like full-cream guitar tunes with a slight edge on previous numbers on the chorus front (they certainly both beat 'Hate Me!'). I reckon "I don't give a flying, I don't give a flying, I don't give a flying fuck" is also Laiho's answer to the question, "How do you write your lyrics?" but whatever.
Children of Bodom would have another crack at the same formula on 'Blooddrunk' and fare marginally better at finding a middle ground between shredding and songs, but 'Are You Dead Yet?' ends up being not much stronger and not much weaker than any other Bodom album you could care to name.
I'll be honest, while I do like a lot of stuff by Children of Bodom, I wouldn't describe myself as a fan. Why not? Because I only like the stuff that none of the 'real fans' like. Take 'Blooddrunk' for example. Most of CoB's followers dislike that album. A lot. I, on the other hand, think it's a masterpiece. So for an album where opinion seems to be pretty split, I kind of sit on the fence with this one.
First off, the direction of the music isn't what they used to do back in the times of 'Hate Crew Deathroll' and 'Follow the Reaper', for the most part anyway. The one song people seem to come back to time and again when it comes to this album is 'Trashed, Lost And Strungout', for the obvious reason that it sounds more like old CoB than the rest of the tracks. Come on people, you're clutching at straws here. That song may be the best song on the album, but one song can't save what some people might refer to as a disaster.
The title track was what got me interested in Bodom in the first place, the interesting riffs on the guitars probably being the thing that caught my attention. However, looking back I have to say that it's far from the best song on this album. It's not the worst either, but it doesn't have much on the two songs I think of as the best.
Those two songs would be 'If You Want Peace... Prepare For War' and 'Trashed, Lost And Strungout'. Strangely enough, I first discovered the former on Guitar Hero but it wasn't really to my taste in music back then. As a twelve-year-old it's the kind of thing that just seems too loud and heavy, but now it's just an awesome song you can't help liking. The guitar riffs are heavy, the drums solid and fast, the bass pretty sweet (and in this song you can actually hear it in places) and of course the keyboard creates interesting effects. Not to mention that the solo battle is one of the best I've heard. 'Trashed, Lost And Strungout' though just takes epic to a whole new levels for reasons that can't be described. In places it does sound a little reminiscent of Dragonforce, but for the most part it's a solid song that is extremely melodic for the most part.
Apart from these three songs, the album is pretty poor though. A couple of tracks started out well and I thought I was in for a treat, but as seems to happen so often they sold themselves short. The fact that there are only nine songs on this album (a total of a mere thirty-seven minutes listening time) is a little disappointing, but the general quality of the songs on the record kind of turn this into a blessing rather than a curse. Half the time I wonder what's meant to be going on in the song (most of all in 'Bastards of Bodom' - I mean, what even is that?) because I can't work out whether the song was meant to sound the way it did and if anyone listened to it first to check it didn't sound exactly the way it does. Not to mention that some of the songs sound nearly identical (have you compared 'Bastards of Bodom' to 'We're Not Gonna Fall'? I jumped from one to the next and could barely tell the difference).
Pretty much what I'm saying is that giving it a rating of 50% is quite generous, and that's almost solely because of how good two of the tracks on the album are. It's no wonder people think this is one of their poorer albums when two thirds of it is utter shit.
I started listening to metal when I was about 14 years old. A friend of mine sent me some Bullet For My Valentine songs, which I instantly liked. I thought that was 'true metal'. Oh to be young and naive! That's 8 years ago, and since then my knowledge of the genre has expanded, and it still is. Although I must admit, I like listening to The Poison now and then. Anyhow, I was 14, I had listened to BfmV and all of the sudden someone sent me a song by Children of Bodom. That song was 'Are You Dead Yet?'. I was instantly blown away by the power and intensity of that song. That was my first encounter with CoB and the more extreme side of metal. I started listening to more CoB and the first album I bought was 'Are You Dead Yet?'.
I'm a huge Bodom fan, I own all their albums, except for RRF, because that's the only one that I think that isn't good. My personal favourites are Hatebreeder, Follow the Reaper and the most recent one; Halo of Blood. I do realize that Are You Dead Yet? sounds completely different: it sounds too simple and has less neoclassical influences for which CoB originally was famous and praised for. But being the first metal album I ever bought, and the title track being the first 'real' metal song I've ever listened to, I love this album and I always will. I'm not a musician, so I can't really talk about all the technical stuff and so on, I'll give you my review based on how I experience this album as a listener. Nor am I a writer, I'll do my best making this a most enjoyable review to read, but don't expect me to go Tolkienstyle, or who ever you prefer. Let's begin!
This album is filled with riffs, it's true that they are simple, but that isn't a bad thing. They're powerful, catchy, aggressive and they get my head banging. Maybe Alexi was being lazy when he wrote them, maybe they were selling out and trying to reach American fans while betraying their own hardcore fans who liked Follow the Reaper. But because this was the first Bodom album I've ever heard, I could not see it that way. I liked the simplicity of the riffs! And when I heard Follow the Reaper or Hatebreeder, I thought: wow, this is even better!
The solos match perfectly in the songs. Next in Line, If You Want Peace, Prepare for War and We're Not Gonna Fall are the stand outs. Wirman's keyboard is more absent than in other albums, but when he does play a solo, it's impressive as always, especially when competing against Alexi. His absence during the riffs did not bother me that much, although it can create a more impressive sound, if you've listened to the other albums. But as I just mentioned, that was set straight during the solos on this album.
The bass and drums do in fact sound too simple. As I listened again and again to this album and compared it with the others, I expected more from Henkka's bass and especially from Jaska. He has some cool fills, but overall his performance is average. He's not the best drummer out there, but he's got skills. Listen to Halo of Blood and afterwards Are You Dead Yet? and you'll notice a great difference. However, it still works on this album, but it could have worked better. That's just the only bit of criticism I have.
The lyrics are cheesy and especially on this album they come with a 'I'm a bad boy'-attitude, but let's face the facts here: one does not listen to Children of Bodom because of the lyrics. The lyrics weren't, aren't and will never be the highlight of CoB. I just listen to them and sing along without thinking too much about them. That works for me, because on concerts I shout along like a 14 year old boy that I don't give a flying fuck, motherfucker.
For many fans, this album is blasphemous, and I can see why, but for me it was my introduction to this wonderful world of metal music. I listen to a strong variety of artists now, from Iron Maiden to Aborted, from Dream Theater to Parkway Drive. That is, next to musical aspects, also a big reason why I like this album so much. For the same reasons I like A Sense of Purpose of In Flames, or Soilwork's Stabbing the Drama. I'm aware of their earlier works and I also prefer them over their recent albums, but I still like those albums mentioned above. So if you have an open mind, you would really want to check this album out.
I really like Children Of Bodom. I don't really like this album. I got into them at the time of Hate Crew Deathroll without hearing a single note of their music. I was gettinginto stuff like In Flames and Soilwork and various amazon reviews recommended Bodom as similar and even better. They were right! The first 4 Bodom albums are sheer brilliance in the melodic death metal scene. So needless to say my expectations were high for Are You Dead Yet?...i even bought an import copy because i couldn't wait for a proper UK release. Oh how disappointed i was.
This album starts off well enough, the opening pair of songs are pretty good, but there's obviously a different smell in the air on this one. Gone are the widdly power metal-esque riffs, gone are the black metal influenced vocals (although this started to happen at least one album earlier), gone is the speed. This is slower, heavier and groovier for the most part. The keyboards are utilised differently too, still there and still playing leads but somehow not the same. This album sounds....American i guess. As if the record label said 'guys, you'll break big if you change this, this and this'. So they did. So did In Flames and Soilwork sadly.
This change works on some stuff and not on others. Mainly because Alexi just isn't as good at writing this type of music. The vocal change has stuck for the most part and it's really just an out of tune semi-growl, clearer than before but this only serves to highlight the bad lyrics. His lyrics have always been atrocious in an amusing way and this album is only slightly worse than usual. The obvious exception being 'In Your Face', basically a lot of 'fucks' and hardman threats that come off sounding weak and pathetic. Shame really, cos i quite like the music to this one. 'If You Want Peace...Prepare For War' has always reminded me of Megadeth musically, which would be good but it's fairly boring despite the musical prowess on show. 'Punch Me I Bleed' sounds like WASP. make of that what you will.
Tracks 6, 7 and 9 i have no real comment on. Every time i listen to them i instantly forget them afterwards, just dull from what i recall. 'Trashed, Lost and Strungout' is the only good song on the latter half of the album, with a Slayer inspired riff at the start and a near return to their old sound in general. Bonus track is a cover of Billy Idol's 'Rebel Yell'. it's ok for what it is, Bodom have a long history of covers and this is far from the worst.
So overall this is a change of style and a change for the worse in my opinion. Blooddrunk was more of the same and it took another 2 albums before Bodom found their feet again. This isn't a terrible album but it has too many anonymous tracks, while the best tracks just aren't as good as previous work. Approach with caution.
Recommended tracks: Living Dead Beat, Are You Dead Yet?, in Your Face, Trashed, Lost and Strungout.
It has been over half a decade since the release of Bodom’s most hated album. Yeah, it is. A vast majority of fans blame the evident diminution of Janne Wirman’s keyboard melodies, which was a renowned characteristic of their sound since their debut. On the other hand, some say the hatred is due to the hippy-dippy, emo-esque lyrical content and vocal deliveries. They even seem to have borrowed some “ideas” from some “famous” bands. I daresay, it still holds some value. At least, its better than some bands of the genre have tried to do.
The unisons and solos are still there, but only for the sake of it. It may seem like that maybe due to the chugga-chugga nature of the songs. But if you take out the solos individually, you will notice that most of it is rushed and done only to retain the characteristics that made them famous. The addition of Roope Latvala is apparent only in the rhythm section but as a lead technician, he hardly contributes to the solos. Certain songs have really nice intros and chorus sections but then the rest of the parts are just pointless and bland. Unless you have had an overdose of notes listening to some jazz band or a solo project and just want to listen to something atonal and simple, you may not necessarily enjoy this album.
Talking about keyboards, Janne Wirman walks away during live shows as he is not needed. I guess that says it all. He does use some new patches as well which mostly sound industrial and poppy, but even those new elements are used restrictively and make the songs sound very guitar oriented. His soloing isn't really up to the mark this time. Whatever he plays sounds random and unplanned. Although, it somehow sticks to your mind after a couple of listens and then starts to make some sense, you may not be overtly impressed after hearing his technique and composing astuteness on the previous albums. His dual-section solo on We're Not Gonna Fall is quite impressive though, with a Black Widow touch to it...if you know what I mean.
They also seem to copy some riffs from here and there. Trashed, Lost and Strungout is a rip off of Slipknot's Sic. To put it plain and simple. Since most of what Bodom have done so far was original and fresh, this would be baffling to some. Even, that is. The song titles and lyrics are childish (swear words thrown in meaninglessly) and do not have any references to the Lake Bodom murders or a reaper hunting you down. Whatever they intended, or whatever they were going through, it doesn't give out a good impression about the band.
If you are new to metal or if you are a musician who just wants to have some casual fun, then please go ahead with this album. Its okay if you listen to Slipknot. It's okay if you feel better listening to songs that use swear words to vent out frustration! It's okay if you like simplicity and a bit of straight-forwardness and only occasional complexity. A lot of people come back to this from time to time but only for a certain part or a solo. But with Bodom standards, not one song in this album is worth a complete listen. IMO, they should not ave released this album. Instead, joined parts of different songs and released it in Blooddrunk. I am only hoping that they made this album purely with the purpose of being “famous” in the States and get some cashflow coming in. If that was really their plan, then mission accomplished for them! Really!
I really don't get Children Of Bodom. I honestly have no clue. I think they are talented, but their talent is apparently heading in the WRONG direction. I could never understand the praise they received from their previous albums, but I'm not reviewing those. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is manure. Fecal matter. Whatever you call poop nowadays, this is it. Alexi and company have established themselves as the jokers of melodic death metal and will never return to their former glory, if they had any in the first place.
So let's dive right in. This album is chock full of mediocre and repetitive riffs that bring to mind Jon Schaffer (LUV U JOHN!) and vocal lines that burn like bleach in your eyes. There's a difference between melodic death and metalcore. Alexi, please use a little bit of diversity in your vocals instead of your annoying YOWS and your glass breaking screams. Save that for Ozzfest. Speaking of Alexi, I think he is one of the most overrated guitarists in the world. His solos are wank...hell, I could listen to Necrophagist all day and not be extremely bored. And the lyrics? Someone has been getting some inspiration from Phil Anselmo. I'd like to put the usual "I don't give a flying fuck", but I think I'll use the even more horrid "did you think I'd let you mix it up? Give me a reason bitch, I'm gonna fuck you up". Of course you are! You're the most popular melodic death metal band. Kudos to you guys! The thing about COB, as I've mentioned, is that they are talented as hell, but on this album they don't show it. I've listened to some songs off of Hatebreeder and Follow the Reaper and they just cannot do anything to help persuade me that COB is a good band. I mean, you have a talented drummer and a great keyboardist, yet it seems to me they pulled a Necrophagist and pushed them ALL THE WAY TO THE BACK just so they could show off Alexi's "talents". For your information, Muhammed Suicmez is one of the most talented guitarists, yet sometimes he needs to take a breather and focus on the song STRUCTURES and the ORGANIZATION of his songs. This also applies to Alexi, except he has less talent and an even bigger ego.
Nevertheless, there are some shining moments of creativity in here. "Are You Dead Yet" is actually quite...good. I enjoyed the chorus a lot and find myself humming it from time to time. Everything works in that song: the beginning introductory riff, Alexis' not so bad "YEARGHHHHHH", and the keyboard lines fit well. Speaking of the keyboard, where is it? It's not as prominent in the album as I hoped it would be. I mean, it is MELODIC death metal for a reason. Besides that, this song, and for the fact that the other members are obviously much more talented than Laiho, are the only reasons why I am giving "Are You Dead Yet" this score. Actually, I'm feeling quite morbid, thank you very much. Haha. Good one.
So there you have it. A table top album for a table top band. I apologize for the Necrophagist comparisons. To me it was inevitable. Instead I'll end this on a good note. Stop buying COB albums. Hey, why not buy a Kalmah or Insomnium or even a Skyfire album instead? Your ears will thank you.
“Pride goeth before the fall”, as a poet who didn’t even know it once said. It’s eventual with any and all group that’s had more than their fair share of years and releases under their belts; sometime in their storied or celebrated career the group in question will put out a stinker of an album, one that will either be seen as a temporary stumbling block or the catalyst for the rest of that band’s existence. And while there can still be plenty to enjoy in the “Load”s and the “Stomp 442”s of the world, one cannot help but almost feel a twinge of betrayal at what would seem to be the band’s compositional laziness or desire for simplification should it mean their shirts ending up at Hot Topic.
All this comes into play with this here album…
We’ve heard it all before from both fellow reviewers and online troublemakers…COB storming the scene with three incredible albums before playing it safe with the enjoyable-but-rather-sterile “Hate Crew Deathroll”. But once the listening public was able to partake in the first single of this new work, namely “Trashed, Lost, and Strungout”, something seemed wrong on the oncoming horizon. That old BODOM spirit was there, but choppy, metalcore riffs and vocal work, as well as the truncation of the keyboards (one of their biggest selling points) left quite the bitter taste in the mouths of listeners the world over. But all that couldn’t compare to this sugar-coated train wreck. All the bad aspects the single possessed are in full swing here, but made all the more easily digestible and acceptable, seemingly shooting for an audience that wouldn’t have the patience or understanding for something like “Red Light in my Eyes” (BOTH parts). Essentially this is a CHILDREN OF BODOM album in name only, where even the smallest splinters of the group’s tried-and-true, neo-classical blackened roots are cast aside for an industrial/core miasma of simplicity that showcases a band phoning it all in. The songs sound like they were written as an afterthought, just slapped together mere days before the group were to enter the studio. And the overall performance isn’t even great enough to compensate for the lack of good ideas; the aforementioned choppy guitars, underscored keyboard noodlings, dance-beat drum work and Alexi’s increasingly weakening vocals come together almost like a bunch of kids, well meaning but as talentless as Megan Fox, forming a band after a steady diet of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, with this being their first batch of songs. Sure, this would work rather well for a first-formed garage act, but for these guys this is more than a mere setback…this almost sounds like the band doesn’t care, or worse, they’re laughing at you, thumbing their nose at their long-time fans, they who have spent hours on end defending them against the onslaught of negative Internet feedback. Or maybe I’m just a bit more bitter than I let on…I honestly gave this album a serious try, and another, and another, but after all these years and all their emotionless touring I can no longer give this an A for effort. As a result, such a self-serving sensation seems present with the likes of “If You Want Peace…Prepare for War”, “In Your Face” and “Next in Line” (a rather weak-kneed attempt at seeking out their roots), one that I just cannot ignore any longer. Congratulations, guys, you done conned me good.
All in all I was very disappointed with this, even after my already open mind tried to embrace it. I’m not one to say that these guys shouldn’t do anything new and exciting, but “Are You Dead Yet?” is FAR from new and exciting. It’s quite the deep hole to dig out of, so here’s hoping these guys will come to their senses soon enough.
I simply cannot believe that people other than strung out tweens can actually listen to this anymore. The downfall of this band is both one of metal's greatest mysteries and pitfalls. COB had such a great start, with uplifting, catchy melodic death coupled with amazing fretwork, good songwriting and just enough bite to be considered credible. Sure they may have stolen a few riffs from Dissection, but that was still okay because the material was so good. Then Hatecrew Deathroll happened, and the downfall began. This record is a continuation of that and is a total disgrace to true metal anywhere.
Gone are the slightly black metal-tinged parts with cool melodies. Gone is the slick songwriting and just about everything else this band had going for it. To use the term sellout is taking it easy on these guys. Are You Dead Yet? is full of mock anger, stupid lyrics and basic mallcore-like riffs that can only make a pimply faced teenager freak out. It has all gotten so immature and unbecoming of a self-respecting band. Alexi Laiho is a gifted guitarist, but he chooses to wank off over cheap punky riffs while spewing out immature "Fuck You Bitch!" lyrics and the kids are falling for it. Is this really the same band that wrote "Kissing the Shadows"?
The only reason I give this album points is for one song. "If You Want Peace Prepare for War", despite its stupid title, is a good song reminiscent and worthy of their past albums with very cool lead sections and catchy riffs. That is one song out of nine which makes for 11.1% so that's the grade I'm giving it.
Besides that you're stuck with unimaginative songwriting, uninspired riffs and leads and just way too much cheese to be taken seriously. Unfortunately they have paved the way for many other terrible bands to "trailblaze" and take the scene by storm. This creates a wimpy scene where people are willing to subject themselves to shitty music and call it art, or in this case "troo metal". I guess metal just isn't what it used to be.
Check out their first three records if you want to hear Children of Bodom, because this album is just crap and a total disgrace to the genre I love and grew up with.
After releasing both Follow the Reaper and Hate Crew Deathroll, Children of Bodom released an album that betrayed every fan that they won over with those two classic albums. Are You Dead Yet? incorporates some new elements, but at the same time it also removes too much of what made Bodom great in the past even if it does have its share of good moments.
First the good; Alexi's replacement is none other than Roope Latvala. He can write some really good riffs and actually performs some of the albums solos which allows for there to be three members who pull off solos on this album, which makes this release 33% more interesting than previous albums in terms of solos.
What's also good is that the moments where the keyboards synchronize with the guitars are back and create a deeper sound than either of them alone can create. This effect was awesome on Hatebreeder and while it isn't the same effect as it was on that album, it still works. On Hatebreeder it was more of a piercing effect, while here it becomes more of a clunking sound reminiscent of industrial. I personally really like it and it's welcome here since it's one of the few elements that Bodom hasn't incorporated into their music beforehand.
Now comes that bad, the keyboards are almost totally muted. While I felt that Hatebreeder was too excessive in its use of keyboards, Are you Dead Yet? barely uses them at all. Janne is an excellent keyboard player and it now feels as though he's as useful as the arms are on a T-Rex. I honestly had to turn this off after I heard the second track on here since Janne only complements the guitars during certain parts of the song rather then actually using his keyboards for either atmosphere or as an instrument. He's a great keyboardist and it's a shame that he only really gets to shine on a few tracks outside of the solos and guitar synchronization.
Another thing that irks me are the slowed down tempos. Children of Bodom made a name for themselves as a European power metal band that didn't totally suck. Sadly, this album isn't power metal at all and seems to be a cross between melodeath and groove metal. Unfortunately, both of these elements are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. This is also problematic because groove riffs absolutely have to be catchy. The groove riffs on here for the most part suck, and aren't memorable at all. There are some exceptions but the main riff to the title track is one of the worst that I've ever heard in my life, especially coming from a band who used to write some kickass guitar parts on songs like Needled 24/7 and Deadnight Warrior. At least the solos still rule.
The drums also suck. While We’re Not Gonna Fall may have a good drum beat, most of the tracks on here don’t show off Jaska’s obvious talents and he’s usually playing simple beats whenever he isn’t performing a fill. I know that he’s capable of more due to his performances on Hatebreeder and Hate Crew Deathroll where he was able to pull of some amazing drum work but here he doesn’t do anything that keeps my attention. Much like Janne, he’s just playing on this album because he’s a member of the band and Henkka’s bass drives the rhythm section. I appreciate Hankka being the most important here since he’s been on Something Wild, but Jaska’s contributions to the band’s sound are missed just as much as Janne’s.
Then there's the final nail in the coffin for me, Alexi's vocals. While I may not have liked the monotone and overly harsh delivery on Hatebreeder, Alexi was at least incomprehensible on there. By slowing down his singing and ennunciating more, I can finally understand half of what Alexi is saying and it's truly banal. There has always been a reason why CoB chose to omit most of the lyrics from their booklets in the past and it's now painfully obvious why. The line, "Oh my God! You're so fine!" in In Your Face being the most famous example. Alexi seriously should have used a less clear style of singing since I don't want to hear such poorly written lyrics that Alexi admits to improvising in the studio. He should either write his lyrics down beforehand or make his delivery as impenetrable as it usually is.
That isn't saying that Are You Dead Yet doesn't have any good moments. Living Dead Bead, In Your Face, and Trashed, Lost, and Strungout are still good songs. And some of the other tracks like Bastards of Bodom and We're Not Gonna Fall have some good moments, but most of this album is just boring and full of filler tracks. (One of which was chosen as a video over Living Dead Beat for some unknown reason.) The good tracks on this release keep it from being a total failure but it's still bad by any band's standards and thankfully they haven't released an album this bad before or since.
If you want to hear a Bodom album with groove riffs and breakdowns, listen to Blooddrunk since their at least performed well on that album. Are You Dead Yet? should only be purchased by hardcore fans who have already purchased every other album put out by the band.
Boring Bodom? Never thought I'd say it, but that is pretty much what this is. After back records such as the blistering "Hatebreeder" and the brilliantly well-written and colourful "Hate Crew Deathroll" (have not heard "Follow the Reaper") this is exactly not what I wanted to hear. Modernized, over-produced, slower, cheesier (yes, it's possible) CoB.
The whole album is very similar. Whereas HCD flourished in its brilliant melodies, upbeat choruses and manic solos, AYDY pretty much flattens this all out into basic CoB material. Very thick production, quite the opposite to past Bodom which was crisp and discernable, definitely achieves what they Hatecrew were aiming for in a heavier album - more commercial as well. This is not always a bad thing, but in CoB's case it certainly is. The vocals have got quite a lot thicker as well, less harsh and in your face than the previous album (ironic as I’ve just noticed that one of the tracks is called “In Your Face”).
Agreeably, this all sounds pretty negative at the moment. However, the keyboard is (thankfully) still as brilliant as ever, with lots of great little touches. The guitar is technically proficient, but not as much as normal. This is definitely a let down on the whole, but it is extremely impressive when it really gets going. A good example is the solo on the outright highlight of the album "If You Want Peace... Prepare For War". This track is a real blast, neck breaking through and through, a top of the range CoB track. One of the only ones, mind. Other exceptions are about two in the middle of the album, the rest is filler material.
Avoid this album unless you are a die-hard Bodom fan.
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 "Fuck 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.
Overall - 91%
Living Dead Beat
Are You Dead Yet?
If You Want Peace..Prepare For War
Trashed, Lost, and Strungout
We're Not Gonna Fall
Change. Quite a tough pill for some to take. Others welcome it with open arms. It depends on the situation. In the music world you'll find that change is in the air quite a lot. Unless your band is named Hammerfall, you will probably at least make some effort to the change the sound, writing process, or some other music related aspect, subtle or noticeable. Children of Bodom has encountered this change a few times during their musical career. While early one, such differences were fairly subtle; less atmospheric, more atmospheric, a little faster, etc. But the band made its first major change in 2003 with its Hate Crew Deathroll. While not a drastic modification from Bodom's neoclassical power metal days, it foreshadowed a heavier, darker sound from the extreme power metal heroes. Well, lo and behold, when 2005's Are You Dead Yet rolled around, such a path was treaded.
Are You Dead Yet was a difficult album for some. Gone (for the most part) are the uncontrolled neoclassical guitar and keyboard solos which had become a trademark in the band's style. Gone are the tortured black metal shrieks which once shouted lines such as "Bodom after midnight / Bodom after midnight whoa-oh!" or "In the night I crave to feel your breath / and your touch like an angel of death." Instead, such novelties have been replaced by a greater emphasis on aggressive riffs, and more distorted screams and shouts. Of course, cries of sell-out were bound to, and were indeed, heard. But has Children of Bodom descended to the point where such claims are accurate? Not a chance. Right from the start the band comes out of the gates with the same ferocious force and intense speeds that made earlier albums so much fun to listen to. Unlike the album's predecessor, Hate Crew Deathroll, the fire seems to have been re-lit underneath Children of Bodom's collective asses, as the music feels inspired and fresh. Each musician, except the bassist really, excels at his roll, especially Janne Warman. While his outstanding leads can still be heard every once and awhile, Janne focuses more on creating mysterious atmospheric or rhythmic elements with his performances. Songs such as Living Dead Beat and Next in Line do a particularly good job showcasing his role on the album.
In terms of songs, Are You Dead yet features several excellent performances. Next in Line and Bastards of Bodom are two of the better tracks to be heard on the album. Both offerings do a very good job in alluding to Children of Bodom's older sound, and their heavier direction, featuring solid riffs, intense drumming, and decent song writing. On both of these tracks can be found what are likely Are You Dead Yet's strongest choruses. With that said, the heavier material that everyone seems to be so caught up in does not fall behind. Are You Dead Yet, Living Dead Beat, Trashed, Lost & Strung Out, and some parts of If You Want Peace…Prepare for War offer listeners brutal (the good kind) accounts of Bodom's book of heavy metal. Each of these tracks are very riff based, significantly more than any of the Hate Crew's older albums, and should impress fans of the thrash metal genre (which also seams to be a prime influence on Bodom's guitarist/frontman Alexi Laiho). The only tracks I cannot say that I am a fan of are In Your Face, We're Not Going to Fall, and the lesser sections of If You Want Peace… Each of these tracks contains an unrelenting heaviness that rears its head again and again, but neither of them really take such a characteristic and mould it into an asset. In other words, they're pretty bland and uninteresting.
After four largely adored albums, Children of Bodom finally released Are You Dead Yet, one which recieved mixed reviews. Many fans and critics alike were disappointed by the direction that the Finish band took, and it often gets labelled as the bands absolute worst. Even though I do not consider the apparently controversial album to be among the band's best (i.e. top two or three), I do feel that it is a very worthwhile album to listen to. Are You Dead Yet contains a variety of well written songs which excel at creating the several characteristics that make up the tried, tested, and true Children of Bodom formula. If you're a fan of thrashy, melodic, riff laden metal, don't hesitate in checking this album out. However, I would suggest that newer listeners of Children of Bodom check out one of their older albums like Something Wild or Hatebreeder first.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
I never expected Children of Bodom to make an album like this. I doubt anyone did. It's been surrounded by one hell of a dispute, with opinions ranging from complete garbage to the coming of a new genre. I'm not here to assert my own authority or provide a final say on anything; only my opinion.
This is, like the rest of Children of Bodom's discography, an incredible album. Their first three were the pinnacle of the extreme Finnish power metal sound, fused with neoclassical elements and the meanest shredding this side of Asgard. Hate Crew Deathroll was the birth of a brand new sound - extreme brutal power metal, with the lead guitar, melodies, and keyboards coming through stronger than ever, only backed by a violent assault of riffs. Are You Dead Yet? is an expansion of that sound, delving even deeper into the land of the riff, never abandoning Alexi Laiho's affinity for melodic lead guitar.
It's this volatile mix of melody and brutality that makes Are You Dead Yet? such a worthwhile album. Trashed, Lost & Strungout was an amazing preemptive view of this new sound, featuring lightning-fast drums and blindingly technical guitar and keyboard work as usual. However, the entire album certainly breaks out of a one-track formula, bring forth a new sound for each individual song. The first single, In Your Face, is more of an anthem than a musical masterpiece. It seems to summarize what CoB is all about, making heavy, in-your-face metal. That's exactly what this track is, laden with bare-bones riffs, headbanging grooves, and powerful keyboard backing.
The songs Are You Dead Yet? and Living Dead Beat follow the led of the EP song Knuckleduster, providing more heavy ass riffs with a defined keyboard atmosphere topped with some solos that will surely turn heads. Other tracks like We're Not Gonna Fall and Bastards of Bodom are throwbacks to their Hatebreeder-era power metal days, with the dominant lead guitar driving the song and catchy melodies throughout. Others still fall between all of the extremes listed above, with Next In Line and Punch Me I Bleed providing an artful balance.
The latest Children of Bodom album is, in the longrun, a very creative album. No band has ever played a thrash/power fusion quite like this before. While fans of their older work may be caught off guard, open-minded metal fans in general should find this an enjoyable, unique romp in the valleys of weak-slaying riffs and Yngwie-slaughtering solos. CoB really did it again with this one, as, while different, an entirely worthwhile album full of excellent metal.
You know, this isn't terrible. But it just isn't the Bodom we all grew to love. Now, I know bands should take risks, change sounds, etc. but this just doesn't seem to work extremely well. Children of Bodom was so appealing to my young ears because they were extremely fast, used keyboards as an actual instrument (as opposed to just for atmosphere), had some slightly uniqe vocals, and godlike guitar solos. Now, the songs are slower, the keys are for atmosphere, crappy vocals, and decent solos. They seem to be opting for a more crushing sound, which they have achieved. But they are just meant to play fast, blistering, techinical metal.
The opening track starts off with a decent keyboard thing, not quite the explosive opener like "Warheart" or "Follow the Reaper", but promising. But then the chugging begins, oh well... no big deal. After the trademark Alexi "YOW!" a fuckin' sweet ass riff comes in, only to be discarded within a few seconds and replaced with a lame chugga chugga WEE thing. The verse is okay, but the chorus is absolutely terrible. The harmonics sound good, but the rest of the song is just okay.
I actually quite like the title track. The verses aren't that good, but the chorus is just awesome. Truely the soundtrack to break somebody's face to. "If You Want Peace, Prepare for War" is a good track too, but after this the album really takes a nose dive. Pretty much every track after this sucks (with the exception of "Trashed, Lost and Strungout"). Not to mention that anybody whose ever played the Dynasty Warriors videogames can agree that the last track would not sound out of place in the soundtrack.
The solos are still pretty good, the addition of Roope Latvala means nothing but good things for Bodom, as now there are two shredders. But I must complain about the vocals, as another reviewer has stated, the reason they suck so hard is because now the words are comprehensible. Laiho, while (previously) a good vocalist, is a horrendously shitty lyricist. But that never bothered me because I couldn't really understand the lyrics unless I read along with the songs before. Now the sheer stupidity of "In Your Face" just kicks me in the balls and laughs. Easily some of the worst lyrics ever written.
Verdict: First three tracks are good, then an overwhelming wave of dysentery swallows you like a fat hooker swallows a dirty wang. I hope they don't continue this downward spiral into oblivion, or the world might lose another metal legend.
Chug. Chug. ... Chug. Wild solo! Ah yes, it's Children of Bodom's latest indecisive effort, Are You Dead Yet. A mallcore abomination in the eyes of some, another great Children of Bodom album in the eyes of others. But now that the momentary blast of hype following its release has distilled, it's easier to take a step back and come to a concensus on exactly what this album is: Mediocre.
Children of Bodom are now simply a functional band who lack the motivation to release meaningful, compelling metal. The band is now tentatively picking their resources in an atypically calculated manner, and keeping their distance from anything that could be deemed as dangerous. Children of Bodom was always just breezy fun with some fleeting moments of neoclassical brilliance, but I never imagined them releasing anything this brainless. The music is basically a step further from where they stood with the inconsistent but decent Hatecrew Deathroll, which means more distorted, uninspired aggro-metal riffing, punchier and and more irrelevant keyboard arrangements, annoying Zakk Wylde pitch harmonics thrown around, and lack of skill at hiding their influences. There are borrowed Pantera and System of a Down riffs all over the place. (Yes, System of a fucking Down. Listen to the album's title track then compare some of the riffs with SOAD's "Highway Song." How the mighty have fallen.) And when the album doesn't borrow from others, it borrows from past Children of Bodom efforts. "Punch Me I Bleed" is basically Hatecrew Deathroll's "Angel's Don't Kill", but filtered of any positive qualities that song possessed.
Another problem, Alexi's trademark gnashing rasp has transformed into a comprehensible, low growl. I wouldn't really mind this, aside from one thing - Alexi is an atrocious lyricist. I mean, really bad; So bad the band stopped printing lyrics in the booklet. I could be listening to the best damn music in the world, and 'TuDe-FiLLeD bellows of "I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK MOTHER FUCKER" x3 and "OH MY GOD YOU'RE SO FIIIINE" would evoke either a sigh or mild laughter, depending on my mood at the time. The album's warm, fuzzy production doesn't help things either.
Are You Dead Yet? is similar to a Spanish guy who doesn't speak English, running a complex inquiry through Babelfish and posting it on an internet forum: "There is a certainty album my eyes has been on, and I am wondering myself if I verify a resource in line or I buy it in line. It is a question of which he is cheaper, I it supposes. Jajajajajaja!" His intentions are probably good, but it's just hard to understand exactly what the hell he's trying to say. Same with Children of Bodom. Sure, there's plenty of "rebellious" pseudo-thrash and industrial crap, but I detect no blatant mallcore, and it also seems like the logical (if ill-fated) continuation of Hatecrew Deathroll. And at the same time, it doesn't seem like the band that wrote all the off-the-wall, crazy guitar/keyboard duelling on previous albums. My conclusion is that Alexi and co are parking their sound outside the realm of interest of CoB loyalists, but just close enough outside the realm of assorted mallcore junk to convey the impression they haven't abandoned their old fans. Their decision to create a "safe" album has resulted in a blob of mayonnaisey-white mediocrity sure to alienate you with its inoffensiveness, whoever you may be.
So, why such a low score if I'm indifferent to this effort? It failed to either inspire or engage me with its derivative backtracking into the aggro-metal hell of mid-90's mainstream metal. I might as well have been listening to the violent rhythms of a washing machine, which wouldn't cost $13+. As someone who appreciates Children of Bodom's previous efforts, I don't feel betrayed, I feel bored. If you're looking for some refridgerated "grooves" to bang your head to in a drunk stupor, this may be just what you're looking for. Others would be advised to avoid this compilation of filler material called a new album.
It’s a foggy, stench filled night. You sense a mild disturbance in the air and grow weary of your current surroundings. Rain starts pouring down and you hear this desperate female cry of horror and pain in a back alley. Your first instinct is to make a heroic dash and offer assistance despite knowing in your head the strong possibility of a morbid discovery. It’s the curiosity that drives you. Turns out an old lady just lost her cat again. This leaves you practically unaffected despite the original hesitation and fear of discovery of something potentially scarring. This, fellow Bodomites, would be the perfect summation of my thoughts hearing the latest CoB, Are You Dead Yet? Due partially towards the immense negative hype this album has created towards CoB legacy but left with nothing more than a sigh.
Children of Bodom have always been an harsh power metal band with eccentric tendencies for blistering speed and insane stylistic contrasts with dynamic riffs, harshness and fairly distinct, talented keyboard flourishes. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, which led to a continuous decline in speed, power and eventually started heading in a mere heavier, less riff happy direction. :/ There have been times where Children of Bodom have managed to reduce their chaotic sound and create a truly impressive, epic aggressive rifffest but the Follow The Reaper days are loong gone. Are you Dead Yet takes the heavily modern influenced stance once again and could easily be labeled a pro(re)gression of their previous works. Heavier riffs, less technicality and less prominent keyboards with more core and less metal. With all this negativity being said, Children of Bodom still know how to smash heads with their axes. There are still enough excellent technical guitar solos and more than your fair share of venomous metallic riffs. Sadly, most of these occur in the first three songs and trade off with tolerable modern riffs.
At least we can be thankful Alexi Laiho and company, have chosen not to remain stagnant and form into formulaic bodom. This album is still pretty good but suffers from less stellar riffing, out of place musical sections and I don’t want to start on the lyrics. Shit I would be using a ripped CD as a beer coaster if I bothered to decipher even a quarter of them. The positive is that I do remain optimistic that Alexi Laiho can incorporate some facets of Are You Dead Yet? into a much improved new album. I would pass on this unless you have their entire back catalogue or have a preference to the heavy aspect and not the metal part of Bodom.
Favorites : If You Want Peace.. Prepare For War, Are You Dead Yet?, Bastards of Bodom
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2005, seeing as Children of Bodom’s previous albums had amazed me with their sheer quality. It took me a while to get hold of Are You Dead Yet? due to delays and such which only built my expectations further. When I finally heard the album, it left me satisfied, yet a little disappointed.
Upon first listen it is very obvious that the band have streamlined their sound, with fewer melodies, more straightforward riffs and slower tempos than on previous efforts. The keyboards seem a lot less prevalent than before too, and the drumming seems a lot simpler than on previous albums. Alexi’s vocals continue to become more decipherable as well. The production is clear and each instrument is clearly audible which works to the bands advantage, giving the album a fuller sound.
The songs themselves are instantly recognisable as Children of Bodom songs, yet they also have individual qualities that make them distinctive from their other songs. “If You Want Peace…Prepare for War” is a fast paced thrasher with a triple solo battle between Alexi, Roope and Janne. “We’re Not Gonna Fall” is in the mould of “Hate Crew Deathroll” with it’s group chorus shouts and catchy main melody, and “Next in Line” features groove orientated riffs and another memorable melody, reminiscent of “Northern Comfort”.
Inevitably, the solos on the album are brilliant. Alexi and Janne still produce lightning speed solos and duels, with Roope even joining in on the aforementioned triple solo battle in “If You Want Peace…Prepare for War.” Janne seems to have toned down slightly and Alexi shines more on this record. This is not a problem due to Laiho’s phenomenal skills on guitar, but Janne is equally as good on the keyboards and it is a shame that we don’t hear him as much here.
Despite broadening their sound however, the album does have its flaws. Some of the lyrics are absolutely atrocious (I’m sure you know how “In Your Face” goes by now) and sometimes the lack of pace can make the album drag a bit (even if it is just under forty minutes). The previously mentioned lack of keyboards can also be a problem. There are some instances where they excel greatly to fine affect, such as the start of “In Your Face” or the mid section of opener “Living Dead Beat.” But other instances, such as the verses in the title track, seem a bit plain and ordinary, something the band has never been in the past
This is by no means a bad album, but it is not a great one either. The tracks here are good, but they can’t stand up to the high quality the band set themselves with Hatebreeder or Follow the Reaper. This album is worth your time, but don’t expect to be blown away.
Even though my early descent from shitty, overrated, media love-slop bands to the classics (and then some) has been fairly recent, I was never prematurely drawn into checking out overhyped garbage like this.
Yes, Alexi Laiho is a great guitarist and can shred his way out of a collapsed circus tent without breaking a sweat, but even with his neo-classical tech-wankery knowledge and medical precision, he still is one tiddly-wink short of a decent songwriter.
That's right, it's out there now. Children Of Bodom would have been renowned for a one time shtick-stravaganza if they split up after the semi-decent, somewhat creative Something Wild. Instead, here they are again years later with more catharsis induced shredding, ridiculous keyboard abuse, pathetically weak-ass yell/screechs paired with worthless lyrics and the usual snoozing song structure. So what's different this time around? Well, Laiho still looks like he should be in drag, if that clears things up for you. Otherwise, not all too much.
The riffing is slightly less 'German power-metal ballad' and more death metal, with god awful hints of industrial for some reason far beyond my logic. The only relief I found is that they didn't pull a 'Grand Declaration Of War'. The drums as well, have been sped up considerably, but nothing too impressive. This doesn't mean C.O.B. will be booted from Headbanger's Ball Vol 3, however. How did I know that they featured 'Needled 24/7' last time? Fuck you, that's how. Anyway, every sliver of influence featured here is once again drowned out by the incredibly silly Stratovarius-on-PCP-eque keyboard masturbation that's been painting the town red since the mid-90's. Why people eat this stuff up is beyond me...
The strangest thing on here is how they somehow did an unentertaining cover of Britney Spears's 'Oops I Did It Again'. I figured this would be the highlight of the album, but god damn, it lacks something, too. If Exhumed actually did something pretty decently as a joke, it's a cold day in hell when someone can't surpass them. They could have at least bested that Itchy and Scratchy theme song cover by whoeverthatcrappybandwas. Actually, that was bad ass.
Strangely, I enjoy pure power metal greatly as long as it isn't unbearably corny, and I'm always willing to accept a worthy melodic death/black metal band, but Children Of Bodom have combined these elements into something I find unlistenable. At least their first full length's had their moments.
Alexi Laiho shouldn't be wasting his time on this terrible media frenzy and find a real power metal band to play for.
Children of Bodom is back, and in . . . Quite the unique way, when you compare it to their previous works. Something Wild was furious and raw, Hatebreeder was refined and blistering, Follow The Reaper was slower and more melodic, Hatecrew Deathroll was brutal and heavy, and now, we have Are You Dead Yet. In my opinion, Are You Dead Yet is not a normal adjective. It's saying "Fuck you" in musical form, with plenty of hooks. That's something this album contains, accessible hooks that anyone ranging from a fan of Death to a fan of Sonata Arctica could enjoy. This is what makes everything stick together, the catchy sense of every song is the adhesive this album uses to distinguish itself from all of the others. Every element is still there, neo-classical passages, brutal drumwork, and of course, Janne Warman's AMAZING keyboards. That's actually what I believe is the highlight of the album, Janne Warman somehow pulls off another spectacular performance on this record.
Another thing that I have noticed from this album is that instead of a band full of people who play their respective instruments together, there is truly a sense of companionship. Nobody is left out, it's no longer The Alexi Show, which was a great show, however. Henkka Blacksmith, a man usually gone unnoticed, save for a few audible licks in Warheart and Downfall, now is just as prominent as anyone else, his bass playing heard much more than before. Jaska Raatikainen once again provides a solid drumming base, his work with the skins becoming more interesting and technical than on previous albums. Also, the drums seem to have a higher level of clarity, and sound much better produced than on previous albums.
Of course, as you'd expect, Alexi is back, this time with a teenage idol of his, Roope Latvala. Alexander was a great player, this cannot go denied. However, Roope's technical prowess equals if not surpasses The Wildchild. The riffs can be stinging and powerful, like the intro to Are You Dead Yet, or huge and crushing, such as Punch Me I Bleed. To be honest, I know why they are going for a more heavy sound, the entire band, possibly save Roope, are fans of hardcore. This was evident, however, all previous albums featuring breakdowns. It must go said, though, Alexi Laiho truly is a mastermind of guitar. His solos, even though they might not be purely neo-classical, still are highly technical, with bits and pieces of his classical influences still showing up, such as Living Dead Beat, and If You Want Peace, Prepare For War.
Overall, to describe the quality of it all, it's good. I will admit, Hatebreeder, this is not. This is not 568BPM of pure blast beats with Alexi playing six string sweep arpeggios for his rhythms, growling about the reflected hatred in his eyes. I originally listened, and I disliked it, I thought it was their swansong. However, I changed, and listened more. I came to the realization that Bodom is NOT going to die any time soon. There are only two aspects of this album I am disappointed in. Alexi's vocals are not as harsh as before, and while I accept their maturing, I wouldn't mind some harsh motherfucking growls a la Downfall. The other thing I dislike is the song In Your Face. Idiotic composition, the only Bodom song I have ever disliked.
All in all, Bodom is back, Are You Dead Yet being the logical conclusion of their previous four. Gone are the days of Kissing The Shadows. Farewell to songs like Red Light In My Eyes, Pt 2. They've grown up, gotten extreme drug addictions, gotten married and divorced, broke their arms, had their cherished guitars stolen, and had best friends leave them forever due to girlfriends.
And to be honest, I fucking love it.
When the Trahed Lost & Strungout EP was released, I was skeptical to say the least. The title track has since become one of my favorite CoB songs but Knuckleduster frightened me. Was this really the way Bodom was going to go?
I guess you could say I'm an old school fan of CoB. I first got into them just before the release of Hatecrew Deathroll. I had no idea what this band was. I picked up Something Wild and steadily grwe to like it, even though I wasn't sure what to think at first. Over time I looked into Follow the Reaper, Hatebreeder, and finally HCDR. It wasn't long before CoB became my favorite band - they still are to this very day.
They both did and didn't go in that direction with Knuckleduster. My history with the band is relevant because many old fans will say they hate it for the obvious reasons: lead guitar is toned way down, vocals have changed drastically, and suddenly they are trying to be heavier. My point is that any CoB fan, old or new, can love AYDY. The key is to keep an open mind. People need to accpet that the band has changed. It is unreasonable to expect them to re-release Hatebreeder several more times or go back to the old style. Quite frankly, I'd rather they progressed and did something completely new instead of recycling the same style to death.
With Are You Dead Yet?, they have done just that. This is a whole new style of Bodom; one that I now love very much. Before you judge, clear your mind. Think of this as something completely different instead of comapring it to old work. Once you stop telling yourself "Follow the Reaper was better", you'll realize what this is instead of what it isn't. This album has a newfound brutality never shown by Children of Bodom, not even on HCDR. Melody is not lost - only toned down slightly to make way for highly creative riffing and keyboard work. The soloing is more impressive than ever and the band seems to have found something completely original with this album. I can't think of anything that sounds quite like this.
Overall, this album is incredible. Calling it similar to anything else is foolishness, because this is one of the most unique things I have ever heard. Every song is jam-packed full of brutal riffs, new, catchy melodies, and mind-blowing shredding. They keyboard playing doesn't exactly make it Industrial, but it definitely makes the music stand as something fresh. They seem to have taken a thrash and melodic death approach this time around - If You Want Peace... Prepare For War has Slayer-esque back and forth shredding that blows most past solos right out of the water. Songs like Aer You Dead Yet?, Bastards of Bodom, and Next in Line have amazing melodic moments that prove the CoB we used to know will never completely die. To top it off, they include a CoB first: good lyrics. Lines such as the "tainted flesh, polluted soul" and "should I regret or ask myself: ARE YOU DEAD YET!?" sound incredible.
In the end, I could see myself coming back to this as frequently as I do their early work. I can't specify any recommended songs because each one is artfully crafted and honed to heavy metal perfection. So, to answer the question at hand, NO! CHILDREN OF BODOM IS NOT FUCKING DEAD YET!!!!!