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Children of Bodom's third album brought a mixed bag to the table in its musicianship, performance, and songwriting. Though it offered a great deal of memorable riffs and melodies in almost every song, it also held its fair share of convoluted indecisiveness, especially on the latter half of the album, as well as what one might deduce as musical laziness.
Don't get the wrong message; this album absolutely provided the listener with chilling moments. In fact, the most consistently positive musical theme on the release are the lead guitar catch phrases, which begin songs like "Children of Decadence" and "Hate Me!", where the opening guitar lines really helps the song become alive. Additionally, in the songs "Mask of Sanity" and "Taste of My Scythe", the lead guitar is instrumentally complimented by the use of synthesizers, often imitating dulcimers, to take the place of the guitars in order to add some well-needed and well-taken variety throughout the course of the album. Alongside the introductory drum pattern and second-interval keyboard pattern on "Hate Me!", the implementation of these various instrumental sources grants the entire album the sense of eeriness desired from this band's musical and lyrical style. Likewise, this is seen in the orchestration of the opening track "Follow the Reaper". The rhythm guitars also had their fair share of moments to open other songs: "Follow the Reaper", "Bodom After Midnight", "Northern Comfort", and "Kissing the Shadows". The creativity of the last one listed, however, is not quite to the same degree as the others. If there's one consistent plus to this album though, it is the track openings.
"Children of Decadence" has to be the best song on the album, but unfortunately, that's only because what it managed to do right was everything that most of the rest of this album failed to do. It not only gripped its listeners with the first note, but it built upon the main musical themes it introduced in the beginning over the course of the rest of the song. Contrary to songs like "Taste of My Scythe" and "Northern Comfort", the songwriting template is explicitly laid out and each subsequent theme is revisited numerous times in a sequential fashion, but not so much as to become tedious or repetitive. Rather, each segment of the song complements the previous and the upcoming almost perfectly.
In contrast, "Follow the Reaper" bears stark difference to the songwriting structure seen in "Children of Decadence" and also exemplifies the indecisiveness of the rest of the album. This song may come in second place despite its unclear structure because it has a certain fluidity to it. While tracks 5-9 (with the exception of "Hate Me!") follow the same sort of relaxed, fluid pattern, the approach the band tries to make falls short because the segments either do not effectively bond to make a good song or are too convoluted and seem to be superficially and non-creatively complex just to fill time.
This leads to another issue with the album: lazy songwriting. Sometimes it's self-evident when a band just seems to be making up its guitar solos as it goes. Even in portions of "Children of Decadence" this can be seen, where the guitars are just mindless filler, but especially this is found true in "Kissing the Shadows", "Mask of Sanity", and "Taste of My Scythe", the first listed song having an over-glorified outro solo which ends the album on a very low note, to its own dismay. The primary exceptions to this rule are in "Follow the Reaper", where the rampant soloing actually has intent and purpose to itself, and in "Everytime I Die" which is the outlier to almost every conceivable theme in the album (which could be argued as a good thing). This song is the slow chugging piece whose bridge solo is reminiscent of some classic hard rock in its instilling of goosebumps. It's nothing spectacular, but it flips the bill.
The vocalist is competent, to say the least, but when he tries to turn his hard vocals into growling/singing, it becomes the closest thing you'll find to Finnish metalcore vocals.
In place of relying on discombobulated soloing and riffing, some of the melodies in songs like "Mask of Sanity" with its groovy guitars following the dulcimer intro, and "Taste of My Scythe" in its mainline soprano guitar, could have used some revisiting much to their improvement. As I mentioned before, every song had its awesome moments, but as a whole, this album's contents failed to relay those creative, innovative, and memorable elements to the whole 38 minutes.
Children of Bodom have never been mind-blowing. They have always lacked depth and musical maturity. Everything enjoyable has always been so on a superficial level. And lyrically – well, it is downright embarrassing at times. Children of Bodom’s albums are the empty calories of metal – at first they taste good, but in the end they do nothing for you and sometimes leave you with an aching stomach. That being said, Bodom’s strongest album is without a doubt their 2000 release Follow the Reaper.
Follow the Reaper is solid melodic death metal. It takes influences from power metal and from thrash metal and combines them into a furious beast. It is fun – but it lacks real depth. At first listen a track like 'Everytime I Die' sounds great: it has head banging chugged riffs, and a squealing guitar solo that inspires you to whip out your meanest air guitar. But as you listen to it again you realize those chugged riffs sounds like a high school kid playing with his brand new distortion pedal, you realize the main melody could have come from a forgettable game of the NES era. It can be catchy, but almost in that annoying way that top 40 pop songs are.
Throughout this album the keyboards are almost as overdone as the pinch harmonics on the guitar. They are also pretty much ubiquitous throughout the whole album. Once you notice them, you can’t un-notice them. The vocals get the job done, but aren’t spectacular – and it doesn’t help that the lyrics are completely juvenile. Even still, Follow the Reaper is not the worst lyrical offender of Bodom’s albums (I’m looking at you Are You Dead Yet?). That being said the bass tone and drumming is pretty top notch throughout the whole album. The production is also quite good – almost too good.
The composition of the songs is also unremarkable – often falling into the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. When Bodom deviates from this formula it is usually in the form of pointless interludes or keyboard sections that sometimes breakdown into some boring guitar chugging.
It sounds like I must hate this album, but I really don’t. There are some great riffs and memorable songs. The strongest point on the album is probably the opening track ‘Follow the Reaper’ (if you can ignore the pointless spoken word intro). The intro riff is great and the transition into the first verse is enjoyable. It is full of fun keyboards and speedy guitar riffs. Unfortunately, the whole album is not on par with this song. Other highlights include ‘Children of Decadence,’ and ‘Kissing the Shadows.’ These songs are fun and make this album enjoyable. The other songs are just filler among a genre inundated with bands that shit out filler tracks.
The best thing to do with this and other Bodom albums is to take the best stuff and forget about the rest. There are many other bands out there that do what Bodom does, but better. Bodom is a gateway band into metal, once you are through the door, don’t loiter, move on to the good stuff.
Ah, Children of Bodom... probably the most influential and greatest melodeath band ever (in their prime that is). While In Flames, Dark Tranquility, and At the Gates pioneered the genre, Children of Bodom took it to a whole new level, mixing it with power, neo-classical, and black metal influences that fascinated the heavy metal world and inspired countless bands to follow in their footsteps, While some good acts like Norther and Imperanon came out of the Finnish melodeath/power metal scene soon after, none of them came close to matching the perfection that Bodom achieved with their early albums.
It always annoys me to hear Bodom fanboys constantly praise 1999's Hatebreeder" as their strongest release. A good album yes, but in my opinion, vastly overrated and does not come anywhere close to "Follow the Reaper," which is perfect in every single aspect. There is not one bad song on this album, each track is completely original and composed in its own unique way. The musical format is considerably more straightforward than its two predecessors, as it focuses less on the shredding and more on the songwriting. That's not to say that this isn't one hell of an impressive guitar album, but the band drops the 15 riffs a song format and instead develops a formula for using less, but more heavy and tighter riffs. The classical influence is still here, although less prevalent, and honestly, that works much better here unlike Hatebreeder, when it was used just a little too excessively. On "Follow the Reaper," they get it just right and perfect the concept of fusing technicality, with excellent songwriting for an outcome of just pure delicious, refreshing melodic death metal.
After listening to "Follow the Reaper" for who knows how many times it's been now, I still can't find a single flaw. It's probably been said and heard a thousand times already but I cannot emphasize enough just how talented Alexi Laiho is. He possesses every single aspect of what makes up an excellent guitarist. His technical ability alone is impressive but what makes him so special is how his playing SOUNDS GOOD. Each solo is carefully composed with a specific purpose, that transitions from one part to the next like a story. And while he shreds like the one of the baddest motherfuckers the world has ever seen, he always incorporates structure, melody, and emotion with absolute mastery. And did I mention that he was only about nineteen years old when he wrote this? From the technical brilliance of "Kissing the Shadows" and "Children of Decadence" to the emotional soloing in "Everytime I Die", Laiho delivers the finest guitarwork of his career, and any guitar player who listens to this record all the way through surely can't deny that he is one of the masters.
While the impressive guitar work is obviously a main staple here, the keyboards are what really make the album if you ask me. Take them away and all of a sudden "Follow the Reaper" loses that icy feeling and half of the melodic juice it contains. Oh, the intro to "Mask of Sanity," it sends chills down my spine every time I hear it... To all you cheap carbon-copy melodeath bands out there, this is how it's done. They aren't over-saturated fills that are there just to be there, they're always providing their own useful contribution to the music. I've never been a huge fan of key shredding, but it works well here, as both musicians are at the top of their game and form a tight partnership, as Alexi and Janne trade off solos, harmonize, or simply layer their individual parts into an eargasmic outcome.
"Follow the Reaper" really is mostly all about the guitars and keys, but that isn't to diminish the accomplishments of the other areas. Jaska's drumming is tight as always, and something that is really enjoyable about "Follow the Reaper" as opposed to later Children of Bodom records is that Alexi was still a decent vocalist who wrote semi-decent lyrics as opposed to more recent efforts. The vocals are where the black metal influence comes into play, and as my heart bleeds for black metal, I personally love it and wish Alexi's vocals didn't go down such a generic road in later records. Here, his voice possesses a vicious, black metal rasp that complements perfectly with the icy atmosphere of the music. The lyrics are pretty much normal Bodom stuff about the Lake Bodom murders, suicide, alcohol, and all that lovely shit. Nothing too artistic about them, but then again, who actually listens to Children of Bodom or this style of music in general for lyrics?
"Follow the Reaper" set the bar high for melodeath back in the year 2000, a bar that countless bands tried to shoot for, but could never quite match. Maybe that's why the genre has gone downhill since, including the band themselves. But that's another matter. What Children of Bodom achieved with their first four albums is set in stone and forever hailed as masterpieces in the hall of heavy metal. This is it right here, the strongest offering of a band in the prime of their career, and arguably the most definitive and greatest melodic death metal album ever. Just sit back, relax, and let the reaper engulf you in melodic, breathtaking darkness.
Highlight Tracks: Follow the Reaper, Children of Decadence, Everytime I Die, Mask of Sanity
It’s a testament to the power of the almighty riff that an album can be absolutely dynamic, fulfilling, and even groundbreaking without purveying a real amount of depth. In this case, the swirling clouds of guitar and keyboard notation dance in pissed-off harmony to create one of the most special listening experiences that the metal world has ever had to offer. Children of Bodom showed great promise with the loose, aggressive Something Wild, and reformed that passion into the taught, formidable foray into neo-classical melodic fury that was Hatebreeder. However, in Follow the Reaper, they attained the perfection of this formula, to a degree of quality and artistic success that they haven’t come close to since, save for it’s direct follow-up, Hate Crew Deathroll.
As with Hatebreeder, the formula is to simply follow Alexi’s lead as he spirals out like a lightning storm covering the earth, each guitar line a razorblade, slicing along with its comrades to create a veritable hurricane of cutlery, moving with precision and skill wrought in the fires of pure, beautiful melody. As immortal as the leads, solos, harmonies, and epic guitar/keyboard battles were in Hatebreeder, I feel they are no less than twice as strong here. Suffice to say, this is perhaps the most immediately infectious album I have ever heard, and its bright, celeritous bombast is endlessly invigorating, having only grown in my heart within the past dozen years.
Follow the Reaper is 38 minutes of up-beat, lightly blackened melodeath with the spirit of pure rebellion, riffing and snarling with concision and attitude. Alexi Laiho’s vocals have taken on a purely high-register blackened yowl, and though the classical elements have been downplayed, he more than makes up for their absence with his own melodies, which are without exception perfect. His unique, identifiable style was really coming into its own here, and framed by the dynamic interplay of keyboardist Janne Warman, they veritably soar past the clouds, atmosphere, distant galaxies, and whatever deity you believe in, spitting in his face and giving him the finger for good measure.
Of the 9 songs here, only one exceeds 5 minutes, the beautiful blast of Children of Decadence, whose needling leads twirl you around its finger before cracking you in the jaw with its chorus, an affirmation of wild brotherhood. Every song is a life-long highlight, though, from Bodom After Midnight with its pumping, spindly, grooving melodies, Mask of Sanity and its sheering, downright Asian keyboard emanations, the utterly satisfying leads in Hate Me!, or the end of Kissing the Shadows, which contains the best guitar/keyboard solo I have ever heard in my life, and the best of the bands career. In fact, every track contains such an exhibition, and even after almost a dozen years, they remain equally as captivating and impressive as the very first time I heard them.
This is not a record of complexity or depth, beyond the astounding skill of its two main melodic monsters as they playfully battle, and it doesn’t need to be, not at all. The pure strength of the songwriting is still perhaps the catchiest thing I’ve ever heard, always unceasingly creative in its natural flow, with memorable choruses abound. Most of all though, and a point I must reiterate from the Hatebreeder review, is that Follow the Reaper is just plain fucking fun. It is an absolute masterpiece in its own simple way, and I cannot think of an album I have more legitimate, excitable fun listening to, as its cheery, raucous spirit just works so well with my sensibilities. I certainly understand the point of view of people who accuse Bodom of being flashy, but come on, you’d have to be a snarling, twisted, lame little troll to deny these obvious, impeccable charms.
This is the pinnacle, folks. Though the following Hate Crew has a bevy of charm, it is not quite as strong as this, as they began to integrate elements to gather popularity, while sacrificing integrity, a trend that would inevitable almost destroy them, and one they have yet to fully recover from. Follow the Reaper, though is absolutely pure in its energy, spirit, and notation, a crystalline monument that stands at my personal summit of melodic metal, along with a handful of other releases that will some day be revealed. It’s so unabashedly simple, and so absolutely glorious, that for me, it is immortal.
A 100% review is painfully over-utilized these days, often denoting nothing more than the next dose of ADD glory someone has listened to twice and thinks is ‘fuckin epic man’ (Fleshgod), but it’s not an act I take lightly at all. 100% denotes perfection to the person in question, and not only that, absolute timelessness. If you give something 100%, and you’re not listening to it for the rest of your life, you have failed at the art of critique. I say that not to demean, but to lend gravity to my own sense of responsibility in attributing such a score. I realize my passion here is not one shared by the metal populace at large, and this kind of happy, flashy metal will not appeal to everyone, but if you’ve been holding out on this based on popular opinion, I beg of you to consider otherwise, and at least give it a chance.
The glory of early Bodom is not in ruminating emotional depth or haughty intelligence, but the glory of being truly alive, reveling in stark, stunning, beautiful immediacy. You can think way too hard, worrying about all manner of things like the past, future, the meaning of it all, or that pimple on your nose, and let those weighty thoughts and insecurities rule your opinion and heart, but it’s only when you concede yourself to the moment that you truly live. So loosen the fuck up, put on Follow the Reaper, have another beer, ask that girl (or guy) you’ve been thinking about to go to a show, or just eat some mushrooms and run around in the rain. Just stop thinking and live for a minute. Follow the Reaper thrives on this thrilling sensation of ‘now’, just having a load of fun doing its thing, not giving two shits if you like it or not, and that’s its endlessly pervasive charm, one that eclipses almost all other melodic metal ever made. That’s it. That’s all. It’s just so much goddamn fun, and that’s perhaps the most important thing of all. As I get older, the more ridiculous and abstract life gets, the more important an album like this becomes. When it all comes down to it, we’re just amusing ourselves in the void, and I can think of no better company than a record of such wonderful, boisterous, belligerent, and downright elegant charm.
-Left Hand of Dog
Bodom is one of my favorite bands, first off. This was my first album that I bought of theirs, and it remains one of my favorites. Having listened to all of their other albums, it seems the most balanced. It combines neoclassical and melodic licks with a more death metal oriented aspect. You will find the same atmospheric quotes preceding the songs, the same flair as on the other albums, but Follow the Reaper is a definite blend of the old Bodom style and more straightforward heaviness. It is a middle of the road album, and has excellent variation between songs.
Each song is unique and truly memorable. Of note are Children of Decadence, Kissing the Shadows, Northern Comfort, and Hate Me. These, to me, are the standouts of the album. It also includes such live classics as Every Time I Die, Follow the Reaper, and Mask of Sanity. These are all phenomenal tracks, but somehow lack something the others capture so well.
The guitar playing, as it is Laiho and Latvala, is out of this world. It combines heavy riffing and ethereal licks without plagiarizing Mozart or Beethoven. The guitar work is sheer brilliance with not only outstanding shredding, but impressively catchy chord progressions (see Hate Me or Northern Comfort for excellent examples of these). The keyboard harmonizes and accentuates very well, and although is not as atmospheric as Hatebreeder or Something Wild, it is still a prominent feature. Wirmens keyboardmanship is impressive as it not only compliments the guitar work, but also doesn't feel gratuitous or out of place as some of Something Wild's composition felt. Henkka is, as per usual, a steady driving force behind the acrobatics of the other instruments. Some may say it's unimaginative, but I don't find it to be so. It provides an excellent framework, although lacking the occasional solos that Hatebreeder included. The drumming is not particularly outstanding to me, but honestly I have no ear for them. They provide a similar momentum as the bass, but are not particularly noticeable. There is little variation from the blast beats that I can discern, but they are still an enjoyable part of the album. Vocals are typical Alexi with high growls and rasping. There is some grunting or deep growling, but it's not a black metal album. I admit to disliking them due to the fact that I feel they detract from the general atmosphere of the album, but are still enjoyable. Additionally, Henkka and Janne will join in, providing interesting harmonies (if they can be called that) or at the very least other voices.
The perfect way to get into Bodom. Follow the Reaper takes the elements of the previous albums, softens them with stylistic changes more related to the later work, but retains the feeling and brutality of each source.
This is in my opinion the last Children of Bodom release that was still 100% good and true and metal and everything... This album is a masterpiece. This is one of the albums that actually made me want to play the guitar.
This is a great progressive power metal album. The lyrics are not as childish as on later releases, the riffs are fresh and over the top, the solo’s are exquisite, the tempo is varied, you name it it’s got it. Before Follow the reaper CoB released some good albums, but they sounded like some kind of angry Stratovarius spin-off. With this album their sound matured and how! The songs are well built yet surprising, and the emphasis is put on no nonsense guitar violence. It was before the bullshit-American-core-influenced songwriting they suffered from afterwards. From then on they went into a downwards spiral that resulted in today’s Relentless Reckless Forever.
Instant classics are Everytime I Die, Follow the Reaper, Bodom After Midnight, but that doesn’t mean the other tracks are fillers. I have only one reproach, the length of the album is much too short, especially because if you bought it in 2000 like me you paid the price of a full album. 38 minutes is good for an EP, but for a full album? Not sure about this. This is also why I don’t give 95 %, although the music has the required quality for such high marks.
This album was the album that sparked my interest in metal. I remember hearing 'Bodom After Midnight' at a friend's house in 8th grade. I ended up buying the album, and shortly afterwards I became a metalhead.
For about two years afterwards, I was convinced that this was the greatest metal album of all time and that Alexi Laiho was the world's greatest guitarist. I still think that this is an amazing album and Alexi is certainly a capable guitarist, but not nearly to the degree that I used to.
The album opens with the a sample (a voice quoting the John Donne poem 'Death be not proud", presumably from a movie) that provides the perfect opening to the album. The guitars are certainly the most important instrument on this album. Alexi provides outstanding leads, solos, and riffs (as usual) that are the main reason why this album is so highly regarded by many metalheads. The guitar work is technical, melodic, very catchy, and overall quite interesting to listen to. Janne Wirman (or Warman) also sets up the atmosphere of this album with various synths and is quite capable of rivaling Laiho when it comes to his abilities as a soloist. Alexander, Henkka, and Jaska provide the rhythm section needed to support such an array of flashy solos and interludes. They create a strong low end for the band's overall sound, boost the other member's efforts and help back up soloists effectively. Jaska is especially important to the overall flow of the album and the transitions throughout each song, all of which he sets up perfectly.
My personal favorite tracks on the album are Hate Me and the title track. Each of them serves as a prime example of everything that Bodom does right on this album, with the latter being quite possibly the greatest track the band has ever recorded.
In terms of it's faults, 'Follow the Reaper' only has one in my book. The only problem with the album is that, unfortunately, there is a decent amount of riff recycling throughout the album. Alexi recognizes a good riff in a song and repeats the same riff in a slightly varied form in two others. This happens occasionally and when you notice it, the album seems to lose that same quality that it had during the first few listens. Nevertheless, 'Follow the Reaper' remains a CoB classic that is certainly worthy of recognition in the metal community and that I highly recommend as well.
I can remember the night I first heard this album. I was chilling out in a basement with some friends and a friend was spending a little too much time trying to download guitar tabs as opposed to watching NBA basketball and drinking beers with us. When we asked him what band's guitar tabs he was looking for, he responded that he was looking for Children of Bodom tabs, specifically from their album Follow the Reaper. Having never heard of the band before, I asked him to play some of the music. Years later, I finally got my hands on a copy of Follow the Reaper for my own, and found myself reliving that night all over again.
Follow the Reaper is as close as you can possibly get to a perfect metal album. There is not one thing on this album that someone who is into heavy metal could not like. Perfect composition, brain crushing levels of intensity combined with with an epic atmosphere and overtone that cannot be found anywhere else along with a slew of other great things from other metal genres thrown in for extra flavor, Follow the Reaper makes a very strong argument for being considered the best metal album ever.
The one thing that strikes me about this album, even when I listen to it nowadays, is how everything is so balanced yet sounds so unrestrained, so harmonious yet so distinct, with each musician bringing a distinct element to the table that enhances the music in it's own way while perfectly complementing the other members. Right when the first guitar riffs of the title track grace your ears, you will hear what few bands (Children of Bodom or otherwise) have achieved near perfectly since. Right when you hear it, you are blown out of your chair by a set of riffs and harmonies so forceful it is like getting hit with a steel battering ram. All the while Janne Warmen's keyboards cut into like Roy's (the band's mascot) scythe cuts through flesh. Then the drums move come in, and you get the idea. Everything and everybody's role is just so perfectly executed that it works perfectly together yet stands out on it's own. There are very few albums that I can even name that do this, and Follow the Reaper does it the best out of all of them.
The guitar work on Follow the Reaper blows me away each and every time I listen to it in it's entirety, with the guitars more then capable of carrying the songs on their own. Each song is loaded with so many quality riffs it is hard to pick out which ones are the best, but the best about them is yet to come. There are so many riffs within each song that you would think this music would sound overly pretentious and be a "wank" fest. That is not the case. Each riff not only flows into the other, but is capable of standing on it's own and wowing the listener each time out. On top of that, the album is loaded with some of the most intense, complex, well crafted guitar harmonies between Alexi and former rhythm guitarist Alexander Kuoppala that are placed at just the proper time to enhance the mood and epic factor. I do not know how much time was given into the placement of these riffs and harmonies, but Alexi clearly got it right with the composition. The results are flawless.
I normally do not give up space for a separate paragraph to the lead guitar work, but here this album deserves special treatment. No one, and I mean no one in heavy metal, doubts just how good of a lead guitar player Alexi Laiho is. His solos are ridiculously fast and while they are far from the most advanced solos theory wise (though they are far from being basic), Alexi is an example of a guitarist who's technique trumps his overall theory ability, and his technique trumps it by a long shot. Alexi's alternate picking skill is arguably among the best in the world of heavy metal lead guitar, and he combines it with some perfectly executed sweep picking, extremely precise and fine tapping, and some killer whammy bar effects that are never overused. But none of that matters if no one cares to hear a solo or hear shred bursts that stand on their own (which this album contains a lot of). Alexi's lead guitar work is composed so well in terms of theory, technique, and length of each solo that you never feel like the solos are overdone or are pretentious. Rather, you are amazed by these solos. These are the kind of solos that make you think "Damn I wish I could play that!". In that regard, Alexi's lead playing is truly special.
Keyboardist Janne Warmen provides arguably the second most important element to the music on Follow the Reaper. While the music of Follow the Reaper would probably be considered okay to good if it was entirely carried by the guitars, his keyboard performances add something to the music that can be compared of when you put a super charger on an already powerful car engine. His keyboard work just makes the music that much better. Using a variety of sounds and synths that range from orchestral strings, classic piano and harpischord, to a variety of band and wave synths, his performance stands out to help make the music truly epic in every regard. Songs like the title track, Children of Decadence, Mask of Sanity, and Hate me sound just that much better with his keyboard work providing the extra ambient tone, atmosphere, and epic quality to the music. Each solo duel with Alexi is just a wowing experience, and truly a sound to behold.
The two most underrated musicians on Follow the Reaper are drummer Jaske Raatikanien and bassist Hennka Seppala. These two guys provide the necessary rhythmic foundation that gives Follow the Reaper's music an extra amount of heaviness and punch that few albums have, and pushes this album's music over the top. Jaske's drumming is top notch, cycling through numerous different beats and rhythms at a variety of different tempos throughout each and every song. He makes excellent use of his whole kit, using the double bass in a variety of ways along with his hands to create absolutely amazing rhythms. Bassist Hennka Seppala can be heard throughout the whole album, even if he simply serves to provide the extra low end between the guitars, keyboards, and drums. You do not hear him stand out much on his own aside from a bit on the title track, but that is just fine. He does his job more then adequately.
The only real issue I have this album is the lyrics, but these lyrics are really only here just for Alexi to have something to bark about. Alexi's vocal approach is done just fine on this album, though it clearly is the weak area of the album. While the vocal patterns are catchy and his growling projects out fiercely on it's own, this is not an album you listen to for the vocal performance. The lyrics for the most part, do not seem to really make sense even if they do sound reasonably coherent. For the most part, they deal with issues regarding oneself and are slightly introspective and dark. Once again though, Follow the Reaper is not an album you listen to for the lyrics or the vocal performance. Despite this, it does little to detract from the album.
Follow the Reaper is without a doubt, a defining metal album and arguably the metal album of the previous decade (2000s). Each time I listen to this album, I get taken back to my friend's basement and the night we were drinking beers, watching NBA basketball, and one of our friends was downloading guitar tabs for Follow the Reaper. Plain and simple, this is as close as it gets to a perfect metal album.
Children of Bodom have really created a masterpiece with this album. Before coming across this album I had only heard Are You Dead Yet? and remained blind to COB's excellence. The tracks remain furiously fast and brutal, but have a discernable melody. Shredding guitars, steely keyboards and harsh screams are the name of the game with Follow the Reaper, providing a careful dose of both excellent song writing and thrashing speed. To get a good idea of what this album is all about, find a sample of the title track, or the ever popular "Hate Me".
Of all of the musical genius of this album, the most prominent to my ears was the incredible guitar work. Alexi Laiho is notorious for his axemanship, being rated with the top 50 fasted guitar players in Guitar World magazine, and you can really tell where this fame comes from. Solos are intertwined within several of the songs, often laced with keyboards, and the result is just awe inspiring. Speaking of the keyboards, WOW! They don't overpower the songs, have catchy melodies and just generally fit in perfectly within this melodic death metal gem. I find myself humming along with their speedy licks.
The drums are well done, with beats put out effectively and intelligently, as opposed to nonstop blast beats. I am not a drummer and listen more for guitar work and vocals in metal, but it is so annoying when a repetitive, weak drummer is in an otherwise good band. Fortunately Children of Bodom do not have that problem in any way.
The vocals are quite excellent. Harsh, yet still understandable. You can hear the clever, dark lyrics easily without having to decipher them with the lyrics booklet. Death metal usually poses somewhat of a problem in that aspect, at least if you are interested in what the musicians have to say. Laiho's wicked screams are intense and satisfying without being overpowering and forced.
Notably, this album contains small lines of quotes in a few songs. Usually I dislike it when albums have much spoken word type stuff, but the quotes are short and to the point. Well chosen and well placed, they sum up the song they are present in. The lines add to the dark atmosphere of the music as much as the Grim Reaper on the front cover adds to the visual atmosphere.
Its hard for me to say anything bad about Children of Bodom, as I have liked all of their albums, but this one stands out to me as one of the best melodic death metal albums I have ever heard. Hell, it would probably make my top ten list of metal albums I've ever heard. To wrap this up, if you are a Bodom fan, make this album a must-have.
A few favorite songs: Children of Decadence, Bodom After Midnight, Follow the Reaper, Hate Me!, Taste of My Scythe
How do you mix nasty, full on aggressive assault while also playing blazing melodies? If you do no think this is possible please listen to Children’s of Bodom’s Follow the Reaper. I always thought it was the cold climate of Finland that gives Bodom there musical inspiration but you can really here see the adjectives that describe there music quite analogous. It is bitter, angry, and gives you an eerie feeling of comfort at the same time (sort like a blizzard). During this album we see a little less of the keyboards which sound like a steel pan (the infamous Bodom sound). The speed has not been turned down what so ever so you are still getting your full dosage of all out headbanging.
Songs are crafted more harmoniously as oppose to unexpected tempo and key changes which really throw of the pace of the song. It defiantly shows a sign maturity in Bodom’s musical abilities. Lyrics on this album could have not possibly had more angst. For evidence check out “Hate Me”. As a perfect compliment during the end of songs and at the beginning of others little “fills” of quotes are inserted. But do not worry; they are not lame sayings but rather a brief synopsis of the song that proceeded. Let me just say that some of the most talented players of current metal are on this band. Every single member of the band can play at an absolutely mind boggling speed on their instruments. Now speed is completely useless if you do not have technique but, as evidence of their talent I have see them live (to bad I cannot use evidence to actually prove it, but for now just take my word for it).
Towards the end of the album the songs start waning off in too forgettable fillers, but at least you won’t have to jump to the later tracks. However that is not a reason not to purchase this album. So an 88 is a fair score. To best describe this album imagine an old record player and your blasting some old school Maiden or Priest. Now spin the record twice as fast and there you go. Except for the mousy singing that will be a byproduct. You will here Alexi’s patented black metal like style screeching growl (or however you would like to describe it). All this and more crammed into less than 40 minutes and 9 songs of pure hatred.
Sickest Songs “Follow the Reaper” “Bodom after Midnight” “Children of Decadence”
In my Something Wild review, I stated that nothing that Children of Bodom released afterwards was worth listening to. I’ve retracted my statement after relistening to Hatebreeder a few more times, because even though that album’s production sucks compared to the raw intensity of SW and the songs are basically rehashed, it still provides an entertaining listen. That concession, however, will be my last, as everything else they’ve put out is basically shit.
Follow the Reaper is the first good example of Bodom’s innovative bankruptcy (Hatebreeder was an example, but again, could still be listened to). Outside of “Children of Decadence,” which relies more on atmosphere than their compositions generally do, there are no original ideas to be found here. If Hatebreeder was Something Wild rehashed, this is Hatebreeder rehashed, but slowed down. Alexi’s leadwork is improved (it improves every album), but his writing is boring, almost to the point where one could consider him the Yngwie Malmsteen of his generation in that regards. The keyboards still enhance the band’s work (christ, imagine how bland this would be if they were removed!), but they’re basically a novelty at this point, being completely predictable in execution. And now that the band isn’t writing fast songs, the drumming is fucking boring too.
Let’s see, what else. Alexi’s vocal delivery is passionless, the lyrics are dumb, and all the songs have the same riffs. If this is the first Bodom album you get, I can understand how you’d enjoy it. But with the knowledge that it’s just a retreading of better material from their earlier albums (as well as who knows how many classical pieces), it loses all integrity. And the albums after this are even worse. The only thing worth listening to here is the guitar solos.
Imagine if Alexi had actually succeeded in killing himself after Something Wild. Bodom’s reputation might have been legendary…
Every now and then an album comes along that makes you stop and play it again, just to be sure that it is as good on the second listen as it was on the first. "Follow the Reaper" is one of those albums. Its not flawless, but there are no weak or filler tracks and certainly no indication of the change in style that Children of Bodom underwent after this release.
"Follow the Reaper," like Children of Bodom's prior releases is a speed metal/power metal hybrid with black metal, sometimes blackened death vocals. Keyboards are used not only to create the dark atmosphere of the album, but also for solos, sometimes dueling with the lead guitar.
"Follow the Reaper" goes full out, balls-to-the-wall right from the start. After a brief (9 seconds) spoken word intro, the title track immediately kicks off with the keyboards and an infectious riff that draws you in. From there to the end of the album, the fantastic guitarwork and the keyboards create a sound that both defines and is defined by Children of Bodom.
By far the spotlight of this album is the solos. Mini solos and full fledged solos abound, in every song. My personal favorites are the solo near the end of 'Kissing the Shadows' and the one in the title track. Regardless of which song or where in the song the solos are, Laiho's skill consistently shines, leaving the solos both blisteringly fast and catchy. You'll find yourself backtracking just to hear some of them one more time. Thats not to say that other bands don't have infectious, blazing solos- its just something about the frenetic way Laiho attacks the guitar combined with the accompanying keyboards and the equally frenetic drumming and *gasp* audible bass parts.
Aside from the solos, the general musicianship is tight. The drumming is good and not overdone, the bass can be heard and contributes greatly, and the keyboards sync quite nicely with the guitars.
The vocal style fits quite well with the music. Laiho's relatively distinct, high pitched raspy growls and shrieks compliment the blazing music it accompanies. The lyrics for the most part are kind of silly, but then again Children of Bodom (and most metal in general) really isn't known for the greatest or most poetic lyrics you'll ever hear, and it certainly doesn't detract from the greatness of the CD. MY only real complaint with this album, however, is that Laiho doesn't have the power behind his vocals that some other metal vocalists- its not that they sound weak, its just that sometimes it seems that they are a little strained.
As a entire cohesive unit, all aspects come together and form what is one of the most enjoyable, I dare say fun, metal albums I have ever heard. There are no real weak spots, and the minor ones that are present are almost negligable when compared to the album as a whole. Truly, this is the pinnacle of Children of Bodom's career- marginally better than Hatebreeder (Laiho's vocals seem to be a little better on this album than on Hatebreeder) and miles better than "Are you dead yet?" and "Hate crew Deathroll."
After ripping their two latest albums to shreds, I decided I needed to remind myself why I ever loved Bodom in the first place. So, I popped in one of my favorite albums of all time, and let it kick my ass. Holy god, anybody interested should definitely check this out first, and if you are hailing Are You Dead Yet? or Blooddrunk as masterpieces, then chances are you've never heard Follow the Reaper.
It's been said before, but I'll say it again, Bodom has fallen into a very large pile of shit as of late. The last few albums have been boring, uncreative, plodding, unambitious, and just downright bad. They dumbed down their previously unique sound to cater to the dumber crowd because there was more money in it that way. If that's not how the band sees it, then they are either lying to themselves, or they've honestly decided that it is better for them, as musicians, to devolve. When one looks back though, they see brilliance. The first album is mindblowing, the next is even better. Hate Crew Deathroll is a step in a simpler direction, but it was still undeniably Bodom. In the middle of all that, there was their crowning achievement, 2001's Follow the Reaper.
All the technicality, songwriting, and catchiness of Hatebreeder has carried over, and yet the band managed to one up themselves once again. The songs are faster, louder, more bombastic, and just overall better. That is a shocking achievement as well, because Hatebreeder is a timeless classic... and that should really show how great Follow the Reaper is. The lyrics are still dumb as hell, but this was back when the music was so captivating you didn't care (it also helped that he screamed pretty non coherently back then). I also find it funny that only a few songs have the lyrics in the booklet (that's because Alexi has a habit of not even writing lyrics, and just makes them up on the spot in the studio). The parenthesized statement was actually a decent excuse for the bullshit lyrics back then, but now they have a budget equivalent to that of the newest Lord of the Rings film, so there is no way they are rushed anymore.
This was the shining moment of every members' career, barring maybe Jaska. The drumming was a tad better on Hatebreeder I think, but everything else is a step up. The guitar, bass, vocals, and keys are all a smidge bit better than the previous outing. The solos on both instruments are all insane, and I'm still baffled that Laiho can sing and play those complex melodies/leads at the same time (it's not a studio trick either, I've seen them live twice). The keys are only reduced to playing atmosphere a couple of times, for the most part they are used as an instrument, playing leads and solos.
As for the individual tracks, none suck.... wow...... none suck. I never know what the score for an album is going to be before I write a review, as I usually write it and then input the individual scores to calculate the average at the end, but when I was thinking of what the weakest track would be, I realized that there isn't one. Every last track is flawless. Each with catchy riffs and melodies, not to mention mind blowing solos from back when Alexi and Janne used to shred like their lives depended on it. I was going to cite Taste of My Scythe as the worst track, but in listening, there is nothing wrong with it. It is just as good as Northern Comfort or Every Time I Die. I guess the three aforementioned songs aren't as good as the rest, but they are still perfect tens. It just means that Follow the Reaper, Bodom after Midnight, Children of Decadence, Mask of Sanity, Hate Me! and Kissing the Shadows are like.... 12/10.
I guess the best of the best would be Kissing the Shadows. The whole last minute is a sweeping shredfest that actually compliments the music perfectly, it doesn't come off as wanky. Mask of Sanity is also a standout for the extreme catchiness and bindblowing solos. I guess you can just take that last sentence and replace the song title with any of the first three, and it is perfectly applicable.
See, this album is proof that I am not just a Bodom hater. May last few reviews have actually garnered some hate mail, and I felt like my fandom was being called into question. I was going to review this anyways (as I'm going to eventually review every album I have), but I moved it to the top of the list after my latest shitstorm, and actually surprised myself with just how amazing this actually is. I thought Taste of My Scythe or Northern Comfort would drag it down just a teensy bit, and end up with a 96 or something in the end, but as I listened to it trying to remember what I didn't like about them, I was treated with memorable, catchy, fast, and impressive songs. Every last song is perfect.
Well, this is my second 100, and my first for a full album. Nuns Have No Fun got a perfect score, but it only had four tracks, which probably helped. Children of Bodom actually managed to write a full length album with no weak spots. No dips in quality, no nothing. I absolutely love everything about this album, and it deserves all of the praise it gets. I wasn't joking when I said it is one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time.
Fans of the newer stuff should check this out only so they know what they are missing, and what the band used to be capable of. Fans of the older stuff should already have it, so just crank it really loud or something. Fans who are new to Bodom and are trying to find a good place to start.... well, it's not a coincidence that this is the most reviewed and highest rated Bodom albums on the site. Truly a classic.
Reputations are funny. Everyone seems to hate this band nowadays, but when you take a step back and look at things from a different point of view, you start to wonder how many of them have actually sat down and listened to Children of Bodom. I'm not going to claim that every bit of criticism against them is unjustified, as surely there are many things one can dislike about this band - from the stupid lyrics to the overly flashy musicianship (and sometimes lackluster songwriting) to the blackened yowl of Alexi Laiho's vocal terrorism on the mic; all "love or hate" sort of things - but a good deal of the shit being flung at Children of Bodom is due to the fact that their new albums more or less suck, and the general immature and juvenile image the band and their fans project. So they've pretty much dug themselves into a rut these days, as they now only make boring music and have a shitty, repulsive reputation that would likely ward off any curious newcomers (or even old fans) akin to the manner in which a flaming pile of dog feces would ward off an elderly couple on Halloween.
However, disregarding any pretenses one might have about Children of Bodom or Alexi Laiho, Follow the Reaper remains a quality album, albeit an overrated one by many. It has all the Children of Bodom trademarks, including the bat-shit insane, soaring lead guitar lines, the fluttery, hyper-melodic Power Metal synths, the hard-hitting, borderline thrashy riffs that come at you like fireballs from an apocalyptic sky, and of course Alexi's signature blackened screech, which you will either love or hate. Personally, I've always thought that a clean vocalist would make this band a lot less garishly unique, sort of killing the whole "freak show" vibe their music has about it, and if they started using clean vocals, they wouldn't stand out at all amongst titanic monoliths like Angra, Pagan's Mind or Hibria. The harsh vocals might be grating, but they go surprisingly well with the frenetic storm of melodies that the music thunders forth with. Who the hell really wants to hear these lyrics sung by clean vocals, anyway? The musicians here are all talented out the ass, though, every single one of them, and it makes this album a pleasure to listen to. It's mostly ear candy, yes, but it is very enjoyable music, and that is all that matters in the end.
The individual songs on this album are all fast and fun, with only the stomping, ominous "Every Time I Die" slowing down the tempo a bit. Standouts include the opening volley of the title track, which is more or less a perfect initiation to Children of Bodom to a new listener with it's furious leads stacking on top of one another and the synths blaring away like the sirens of Hell in the background, the positively evil "Hate Me!" with it's throat-tearing leadwork and those creepy horror movie synths opening and ending the song, and the fantastic "Kissing the Shadows," which is probably the best song they ever wrote, standing head and shoulders above any song they've written since with a plethora of galloping riffs and luscious solos that will set you aflame. A downside is that a few of the tracks run together here and aren't as memorable, but even those have deliciously cool solos aplenty around every corner, so it's not as big of a deal as it would be otherwise.
What I like best about Follow the Reaper, though, is the fact that it's more fun than a barrel full of monkeys, and then some. Compulsively listenable and with energy to boot, Children of Bodom have created an album that is both technically proficient and completely zany and enjoyable all the same, which is more than I can say for other instrumental wishing wells like Dream Theater, who haven't done anything exciting or enjoyable in years. Who cares if their lyrics suck without exception? Who the fuck cares if Children of Bodom wank a bit too much at times? They've written a collection of head-bashingly enjoyable songs with some of the coolest and most colorful melodies I've heard in ages, and if you like high-speed melodic Metal of any sort, then this album should already be on your shelf. Worthy.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
To start off this review, I think I will lay it straight and say that I think this is one of the best metal albums to be written in recent times. I don't know if it is just nostalgia that drives me to love this album, as it being my first introduction to Children of Bodom and being one of the first real metal albums I listened to. Or it also it might be my overall easy to please attitude when it comes to music which just provides an exaggeration of the general consensus for this album. Or it could be their supreme mixtures of styles which is both power and death metal. Either way this album is the best of Children of Bodom and the best of metal for the most part.
The style in the album is a drastic change from Hatebreeder. Before the sound was a more speed metal meets symphonic and neoclassical with some thrash elements; a basic continuation of Something Wild and a slight evolution in style. But Follow the Reaper is much different from the other two in so many ways.
The guitar riffs are a bit thrashy but more speed metal oriented, and overall very melodic, making it a lot more like the speed/power tag that people have grown accustomed to naming Bodom as. There is also a few traces of melodic death riffage, but they hardly make any real appearances. There is a few songs that have a small bridge of some tastefully executed chugg riffs that let you bob your head for a moment to the groove. Like I said, this is very slight.
In a song, there can be a huge amount of riffs that make the song very detailed and well structured but they all seem to be in similar keys so they flow smoothly together and can be seen as a well constructed song, instead of just a bunch of 'cool' riffs thrown in for no reason. Pinch harmonics are still used and more thoughtfully, at the end of a verse for example, or the start of a solo, to make them more significant. Alexi also gives some really awesome leads and licks that, as oppose to sounding like a spurt of random guitar notes to just spice it up, they sound like a bounding enhancement of the original rhythm riff. The lead harmonizes and doesn't go too far off the page so to speak in order to make it fit in the rhythm. In the end, melody is the key to this album.
Janne returns with the passion to show his true skills on the keys. He uses less 'midi instruments' than before, but decides to use a more focused assortments of 'instruments'. The type of stuff he uses is String Ensembles, Choirs, Orch Hits, a Bell Pad of sorts, and the Saw Lead. In this album not only is he like a normal keyboardist, using the keys to fill in the space, but also he is like a third guitarist. His use is far more atmospheric and rhythm based as is a keyboardist might do, but no more are there any random instrumental bridges or xylophone breaks but instead more solos and leads. He is either pulling some epic chords to fill the song with a certain feeling, or following the guitars in the leads and licks in the more prominent rhythm parts, like another guitarist. The biggest part of Janne's change in his role as the keyboardist is the even bigger use of Saw Lead solos (or Synth solos if you'd rather call it that).
The solos on this album are easily Bodom's best. Alexi's playing is still pretty thrashy and shredtacular while being less chaotic and retaining a melodic feel, as is to make the solo flow through well and be uplifting. Janne's playing is top notch, playing so goddamn fast up and down the board and just moving those fingers like there is no tomorrow. Much of his solos can be said are smoothly built board runs that vary in speed and rhythm or adding some insane sound repeating note fills. The sound is very noteworthy. Before the synth just blared through the mix and was monotonous as is the nature of a electronic keyboard. But now the tones have slight variance and are enhanced with a good echo effect, like in the solo in the title song.
In every song on Follow the Reaper, you can expect a dual keyboard and guitar solo, which most end in a brilliant harmony, just to tie in the whole song together. But I think one big part to how the solos are great (other than the solos themselves) is the rhythm section that goes on during the solos. Most are chord strums which are simple and straightforward, but a lot of it is also stop time and the transitions of the speeds of the solos are echoed by the rhythm as they try and follow along. You feel that the solos are a true part of the song, and not just distraction. All of this contributes to how the the solos sound so good and so dynamic in the context of the song.
Alexi's vocals are simply awesome. After the terrible vocal work in Hatebreeder, it seems that the band decided to not be lazy with the vocals this time around. Now with the superb production of this album, Alexi delivers the growls with pure passion. When I say growls, I am sorta lying, it is a lot more than that. Its a more extreme variation of a thrash vocalist really, it slightly changes around as a more regular vocalist would do. Growls, harsh snarling, roaring, shrieks, and ya-yows all around. His entire vocal work is so organic and real, you really feel for him and his 'growls', which are really ground breaking for being in a power metal band. The lyrics are pretty good. Alexi has never been an outstandingly deep lyricist but his lyrics here are pretty well written and not cheesy. The content is basically about the reaper and Lake Bodom, as is the traditional Children of Bodom way.
The bass work by Henkka is strictly rhythm based but can be appreciated for, with the great production, the bass can be heard. The plucking of the bass keeps the rhythm heavy and aggressive. The Jaska does the standard beat that he normally does on all the albums, but is very keen on being as dynamic in his beats as the rest of the rhythm parts. The tastefully gracious use of double bass and blast beats are sparingly used, to savior the sweet flavor when the rest of the band plays really aggressively.
This is the time in Bodom's career when they needed change and they did. This might be the album just before the downfall but this is pleasure before the pain, so to speak. Even after all this time I still can't grow tired of this masterpiece. This is truly an essential album for all metal fans, from every corner of the great metal genre umbrella. If you don't have this, for the love of god, get it now!
Children of Bodom never cease to amaze the hell out of me. Their debut is a massive success, their sophomore album is positively stunning, and Follow the Reaper is damn near perfect. I figured they weren’t going to get much better as a band but Follow the Reaper is spectacular. It even has better production then the previous releases.
*Note on rating: Children of Bodom’s third album, Follow the Reaper, had some big shoes to fill as a follow up to their last release, Hatebreeder. Granted my ratings for Hatebreeder are slightly higher than this album, but Follow the Reaper met the challenge of its predecessor and for some people surpassed it. For me, there are a few more flaws on this album then I thought there to be on their sophomore release and these are my justifications for saying Hatebreeder is a better album.
Children of Bodom are pushing further and further towards a power metal sound with each release. This album is borderline power metal were it not for Alexi Laiho’s vocal style and the aggressive nature of the music in general. The music isn’t near as aggressive as it has been on previous releases – one aspect of this album that I was disappointed with. This album has a lot of energy still but much of the music isn’t near as threatening.
The guitar work is non-stop trade off leads under toned with some chorded notes. Not the entire album is this way, there are some very killer thrash riffs present on the album but most of the guitar work is melodic oriented. For a powered death metal band, this isn’t anything too new. The talent that both guitarists radiate from their fret work and writing is practically nuclear. They have some extremely catchy guitar lines in this album and newer fans to the band are really going to latch on to this.
The keyboards are a definite force to reckon with. They have been really brought out, and with the talent of Warman on that keyboard, it was bound to happen. The keys add a great friendly vibe to the album (one of the reasons this album is as popular as it is). Although I believe the keys are excellent, I still would have liked the focus to be guitar work being Alexi is also an amazing guitar player. Both solos from guitars and keys work well off of one another and sometimes its hard to tell the two apart.
The bass work isn’t as near appreciated on this album. The bass is devoured by louder drums and guitar work. There aren’t as many “bass breaks” on this album. The bass player is one of the best and most charismatic players in the scene today and I missed some of his work.
Alexi’s vocals, as was said before, are still very harsh and death metal but now there is a little better production on them. You can understand him a lot more this time – and even though the lyrics are still in need of some work – they really don’t have a massive impact on the listener. Group vocals work very well on this album and make it seem as though some of the songs are just really well produced live recordings.
Follow the Reaper is a great starting place for new Children of Bodom fans. It’s very catchy, mostly listener friendly, and it is very well written. The band is moving slightly more away from death metal but its ok. The transition is going quite well. A great album for both older and newer fans.
Songs to check out: Bodom After Midnight, Mask of Sanity, Hate Me!
How many times can you pick up an album and say that it defines an entire genre? Not too often, huh? Well that's to be expected. But these albums are definitely out there. Powerslave, Land of the Free, Rust in Peace, Painkiller, all of these albums hold the crown of their respected genres, or at least in my opinion, but are there any recent albums that could bask in the same utterly metallic glory as the aforementioned albums? You could make a case for Children of Bodom's Follow the Reaper. Released in 2001, it was the band's third full length album, and by far their best. And in comparison with the rest of Bodom's discography, particularly early efforts Something Wild (my personal favourite) and Hatebreeder, that isn't exactly a statement to be taken lightly. So what you will about the albums of DragonForce (though their take on the genre is slightly difference, yeah, just a little on the slight side), Kalmah, or Norther, but in my humblest of opinions, Children of Bodom's Follow the Reaper represents the height of the extreme power metal genre, and a definite classic.
Follow the Reaper starts off quietly, with the a spoken section which reads as follows "Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful. Thou art not so." Just as the quote ends, the band suddenly blasts right into the opening song, Follow the Reaper. Just as the album defines the extreme power metal genre, the opening riff of the title track defines the album. Follow the Reaper (both song and album) is a very aggressive piece of work, complete with ear shattering solos, energetic heart pounding riffs, and technical yet eerie keyboards. It has pretty much anything a fan of power metal could ask for. Well, almost everything, but we'll get to that later. The relentless riffing is quite reminiscent of a thrash metal band, yet with a power metal twist. Songs like Children of Decadence and Mask of Sanity, among others, definitely showcase this aspect, something all fans of power, thrash, and ever black metal bands should enjoy. When I listen to metal, the most important thing, first and foremost, is the music. Bodom definitely surpasses all expectations in this area, with superb efforts all around.
Wait a minute; I said that there is area where power metal fans might not be satisfied in, yet I rated this 95?! Well, when I said this I didn't mean that there was a major weakness. But what I really meant was that, in general, most power metal bands make use of a vocalist who, in most cases, sings in falsetto. Children of Bodom do not have this. Instead they turn to guitarist Alexi Laiho for vocals. Like his power metal counterparts Kalmah and Norther, Laiho opts instead for a harsh shriek rather than singing. But that's perfectly fine, especially for those who enjoy such talents in the black metal genre. Truthfully, at first it was difficult to get into Children of Bodom because of the band's vocals, but once you get over this hill its smooth sailing from there (if that makes sense to you). On Follow the Reaper, Alexi's efforts are very strong, as can be heard in songs such as Bodom After Midnight or Northern Comfort. The vocals do not really vary throughout the album, yet they still manage to sound fresh and solid. Not to mention that they fit the aggressive overtones of the music very well. They might take a little while to grow on some listeners, but the efforts of Alexi on Follow the Reaper are definitely enjoyable, and very well done.
Even though Bodom's debut album, Something Wild, is my favourite of the three that I've heard, I'll still maintain that Follow the Reaper is their best. I really enjoy the take no prisoners style that Bodom effortlessly and effectively creates through their music, as it is very infectious and a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. There is something that almost any fan of metal can enjoy from power metal to thrash metal, to death metal, to black metal, to even classic, Iron Maiden-esque moments. This album will most definitely be looked upon as a classic in the coming years (or maybe already), and is easily one of the best albums in not only extreme power metal, but metal in general. Check this out right away.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
I usually listen to a certain album or song depending on my mood. If I am enraged, pissed off, or somehow angered, I'd be very likely to listen to Suffocation, perhaps Kreator, maybe Death. However, if I am in a joyous mood, and feeling light-hearted, obviously by contrast, I'd end up listening to Symphony X, Ayreon, or Edguy. So as you see, what I listen to is usually dictated from my mood. However, as you might have figured out, there is one band whom I can count on to satisfy my urges no matter my emotions at the time, and as you've definetely figured out by now, that band is Children of Bodom.
Their aggression can be furious, with Jaska Raatikainen's intense double bass work, and Alexi's harsh vocals and powerful riffing, which is prominent on this album. When the vocal intro to, "Follow The Reaper" was over, and the riff came in, I nearly pissed my pants. Another excellent example of Alexi's ability to write very aggressive music can be found on the often times overlooked, "Taste Of My Scythe." However, at the same time, their melodies can be light-hearted, with sugar-sweet leads layered over on upbeat drum beat. Alexi's creativity and keen ability to find the right notes are very obvious, shining through on such tracks like, "Kissing The Shadows", "Follow The Reaper", and "Hate Me!" His simple, to the point lyrics add to this, showing that he attempts to convey his emotion via his music, rather a direct lyrical message, as some other bands would.
The technical skill displayed on this album is amazing, as well. Alexi is an excellent shredder, who can play play sweep arpeggios at a very efficient rate, while maintaining a very good melody, and not overpowering the other instruments. The greatest example of this is my personal favorite Bodom song, "Kissing The Shadows." As you all mostly know, at the end of KTS, there is an enormous shred duel, which after my first listen, left my mouth agape. That isn't all, however, Jaska Raatikainen is an excellent drummer, who sometimes can be very brutal and fast, and at other times, stay back and keep the beat while a melody is going by.
Overall, Follow The Reaper is an excellent album. The musicianship is of very high quality, the songwriting is flowing, deviating from the normal flow of a verse, then a chorus, verse, chorus. While this is arguable with some people, I feel as if there is no filler, as every song is unique in some way. For these reasons, I give Follow The Reaper an A-. An excellent effort by Children of Bodom, and I can only see success in their future.
This is simply an excellent album. Although missing the complete chaos that came with Hatebreeder, it still completely destroys nearly all melodic death and power metal albums. One of the main reasons for this is Alexi Laiho. Alexi, besides being a kickass vocalist, is simply an amazing guitarist. The solos have improved since Hatebreeder, both guitar and keyboard. The keyboards are also great on this album; more prominent than on Hatebreeder, but never taking away from the guitar, as they do in some bands that use them. Completed with solid drumming and rhythm guitar good for headbanging, and we have a kickass album.
Bodom After Midnight, Children of Decadence, Northern Comfort and Kissing the Shadows are all among the best songs on this album, and in all of Bodom's career. Bodom After Midnight has some great riffs and keyboard solos. Children of Decadence is perhaps the most straightforward song on here (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus style) but manages to overcome the repetition with the fact that its full of amazing leads. Northern Comfort is different from anything on this album. It reminds me of one of the better songs on Hate Crew Deathroll... more riff oriented than lead oriented. Nevertheless, there are some great leads in this song. And then there's Kissing the Shadows, the best song Bodom ever made. This song is absolutely incredible. The variety of riffs and leads, the quality of the riffs and leads, and of course, one of the best solos I have ever heard. This solo, lasting around a minute and a half, shows us once again that fuck, Alexi and Warman (keyboards) can solo.
The weaker songs... the cover of the W.A.S.P song Hellion is pretty weak. The covers of Shot in the Dark and Don't Stop at the Top are much better, so if you get a chance, get a copy with one of those covers on it. Taste My Scythe is the weakest of the Bodom songs... no riff or lead thats in there that makes me want to listen to it over and over. Still a good song.
This and Hatebreeder are the two best Bodom albums out at the moment. If you want a tamer version of Hatebreeder that's equal in quality, then get this album immediately. If Bodom's only appeal to you is their chaos, then this CD is not for you.
The follow-up to 1999's Hatebreeder made quite big changes in Children of Bodom's musical direction, even though the basic ideas stayed the same; to have keyboards, melodic leadwork and menacing riffs in a tightly structured assault of violent metal, with catchy varying drum beats, insane double bass and Alexi Laiho's monstrous shrieking vocals on top of it all. The bass is still not very obvious in the mix, as the guitars and keyboards are still the main point, but it is quite obvious at several moments and complements well the dark feeling the album induces.
The biggest change from Hatebreeder to Follow The Reaper is, as you've probably figured by now, the change of tempo. While Hatebreeder featured pure fucking riff-madness with tons and tons of (often single-note based) speed metal riffs, Follow The Reaper slows down the pace. Thus, more focus is put onto the atmosphere on this album, and it also leaves place for a little more variety in the riffwork. Nonetheless, this is still pretty fucking fast- Every Time I Die is probably the slowest song they've ever done, but it's still clearly above midpaced.
Another notable change is the song constructions- in Hatebreeder, the guitars and keyboards pretty much worked together and was constructed as a double assault, while on this album you can notice several times when the keyboards pretty much disappear to enhance a certain riff to it's full potential, or vice versa. Children of Decadence, Mask of Sanity and Every Time I Die are good examples of this.
Also, while the instrumental sections on Hatebreeder were pretty much bonded together by tons of leadwork, Follow The Reaper instead features a whole fuckload of solos, both by guitars and keyboards.
So Follow The Reaper made quite a big change for the band, and it does not disappoint at all. Like any Children of Bodom album, there's so much going on at all times so it takes quite a while of heavy listening to fully comprehend the entire album, which is what's great about the band. You always keep discovering new good things about each song, and you never know what's coming next. The songs themselves also take some time to separate from eachother as the general musical direction and the consistently high pace of the songs don't leave much room for variation or personality, but if you listen to the album enough times, then you'll see that each song has distinguishing characteristics.
It's also a very consistent album, with no really weak tracks at all. But some of them do stand out as definitive highlights. Among them we have Every Time I Die, which has a really effective atmosphere set up by smoothly played keyboards. Also mentionable is Mask of Sanity, which has verses alternating between normally paced (for this album, anyway) and total Hatebreeder-madness. Also Taste of my Scythe, which has some really memorable melodies, and the closing track Kissing The Shadows, which has awesome galloping under-chorus riffs and a really fucking nuts solo section: It goes through three guitar solos and two keyboard solos, and provide a completely maddening closing section for the album.
But the definite highlight found on here is definitely Children of Decadence. It has the most memorable and catchy vocal lines ("We're children of rebellion, we'll fight, we'll bleed!"), some of the coolest keyboard melodies, and this one insanely heavy guitar riff.
But really, it's all very good. You'd better get this or you'll be missing out. It's no Hatebreeder, but definitely a worthwhile purchase.
For increased listening pleasure and atmosphere, try listening to a Children of Bodom album with respectively colored lightbulbs, in this case blue...
It's official. Hard, ass-kicking metal simply does not get any better than Children of Bodom. With the release of their third full-length masterpiece of brutality and harshness, the band has officially established themselves as the benchmark for both harsh vocals and intense guitar riffage, blowing the shit out of all but the best harsh bands.
It's all here, and it's all great. Alexi Laiho features both harsh-as-fuck vocals and incredible guitar playing. Janne Warman is constantly kicking ass on the keyboard, whether it's with his mirroring of Laiho's guitar riffs or his fast-as-a-flying-fucker solos. Blacksmith's bass work is incredible and features all of the talents of this amazing and underappreciated bassist while still remaining under the main instruments. Finally, Raatikainen is constantly pumping out a new beat that manages to both keep the music intersting and push it along at light speed at the same time.
The overall speed is a bit slower than Hatebreeder, but what is lost in blinding speed is made up for in pure fucking riffage that forces you into a death spiral of nonstop headbanging. All of Children of Bodom's signature stylistic stuff is on here, though, including the lightning-fast guitar and keyboard solos, the thrashy, pounding beat with riffs and chord progressions that could have come out of a twisted, evil Stratovarius. Everything in here is just solid style, topped off by Laiho's amazingly addictive harsh vocals that blend in seamlessly with the music instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, as many harsh vocalists tend to do.
Highlights. Bodom after Midnight is very catchy and features quite an amazing selection of riffs and solo numbers. Children of Decadence has one of the coolest opening riffs that I have ever heard on a Children of Bodom album, and it is yet another indication of the primary intention of the band--to make you headband until you can no longer hear the music. Mask of Sanity sounds a bit like Downfall at first, but it quckly progresses into a unique combination of riffs centering on a main theme, and the soaring guitar notes will have you wetting your pants. Finally, Hate Me! sounds like something off an Alfred Hitchcock film, and could be perhaps the most Power Metal-oriented song in terms of key and general chord progressions, although those amazingly brutal harsh vocals won't have you confusing this band with Sonata Arctica anytime soon.
I liked Hatebreeder better, but Children of Bodom fans definitely won't want to miss out on this spectacular performance by the Hate Crew.