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Make no mistake about it: Children Of Bodom were a massive part of my younger, formative years as a metal head. Albums like Hatebreeder and Follow The Reaper were, and are in fact still, personal favorites of mine. Since then, Children Of Bodom has become one of the bigger love/hate bands doing the rounds (if they weren’t already); most of us who loved their earlier, power metal routed sound were particularly disgruntled with their last couple of albums. Alexi seemed to have turned his back on the fun European melodies, as well as the the prolonged guitar and keyboard battles (which earned the band’s popularity in the first place). Instead, Bodom replaced those features with dumb, chugging riffs, Robb Flynn-style cheap aggression, and continually worsening song titles. A lot of people had completely written them off, and whilst I’ve dipped in and out of their last few releases to find the odd gem, I didn’t really hold out much hope…
Honestly, when I first listened to this album I’d have to be lying if I said I was anything but gobsmacked. This is the kind of comeback I’d always hoped for but never expected, and while this isn’t the neoclassical madness of Hatebreeder or the mastery displayed on Follow The Reaper, it’s the album they could have released after Hate Crew Deathroll. Nay, scratch that, they could have released this after Reaper. Everything that made Children Of Bodom so much fun is back in spades: the keyboards are back with a vengeance, Alexi isn’t yelling profanities every other line, the riffs are killer, the melodies catchy, and there’s even the odd step forward in the band’s sound.
Kicking off with “Waste Of Skin”, the band mines a deep vein of nostalgia with a cracking melody and riff set which is both familiar and new. This has classic Children Of Bodom written all over until they kick into one of the best tracks they’ve ever written. The title track is the absolute business: furious blast beats and Dissection-style riffs give me a serious Something Wild flashback. This is exactly what I want to hear from these guys. From here onwards, the band steamrolls the listener with a collection of mostly excellent tracks; “Scream For Silence” shows them nailing their melodic side the best they have in years, “Bodom Blue Moon” is a tour-de-force in pure Bodom excellence – look out for that killer keyboard solo towards the end. “All Twisted” dishes out the goods in the riff department, making 2001 feel not so long ago. Even the film quotes are back, which had me beaming from ear to ear.
If there is anywhere Children Of Bodom goes wrong on Halo Of Blood, I’d have to say it’s in the slow song “Dead Man’s Hand On You”, which really isn’t all that bad (I’d take it over “Angels Don’t Kill” any day). I’d just say it kind of kills the buzz with the rest of the album being so bloody energetic, though I suppose it gives time for a rest and there is an absolute beaut of a riff in the middle. That’s it though, the only negative is one song – and it’s not even that bad.
From the artwork, song titles, atmosphere, and of course the songs themselves: this is classic Bodom, through and through. Songs such as the title track, “Dead Mans Hand On You”, and even “Transference” have enough bright ideas to keep the album from becoming merely a rehash of their earlier material, which sweetens an already damn sweet deal. To hear a return to form of this level from a band I grew up loving is an experience which can’t be beaten. If you’ve ever cared about this band, especially around the time of Follow The Reaper and Hate Crew Deathroll, (Hatebreeder this is not) then I can’t recommend this enough.
Originally written for http://blackwindmetal.com