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It’s really difficult to dish out perfect or near perfect reviews, especially for bands that receive as much hate internationally as Children of Bodom. Some will view this as the opinion of a man who cares nothing for depth, enjoys trends, or whatever else have you, and admitting adoration for a group as scoffed at as these Finns is potentially ruinous to my reputation with certain readers, as you will learn later on. However, to abandon the truth for the sake of acceptability is itself not at all acceptable, and I hope you’ll bear with me. Indeed, the prevalent disgust with this band is not a viewpoint I can really look down upon, considering their recent departure from unique melodic dynamics into less challenging, more commercial fare, but as one of the strongest early influences of my past decade submersed in the world of metal, they’ve dropped certain albums that will never decrease in value for me. That should be clear, if you’ve read my reviews of their albums up to this point, and still haven’t abandoned the Reaper Division.
Truly, I’m no stranger to enjoying bands that receive rabid hatred, being an unabashed supporter of Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, and Cradle of Filth (with some exceptions, of course), to name just a few. Bodom are one of the foremost within that realm, and though my opinion of them has dropped pretty severely in recent years, I just cannot help my unabashed, fanatical love for 3 of their records, of which this is the last. Fling the feces, disregard my future writings and opinions, do as you will, nothing will change the fact that Hate Crew Deathroll is a beast of carousing, grooving melodic death metal that I will never, ever, on pain of fucking death, tire of. It may not be perfect, but I love it like a brother, and this is an opinion derived from very nearly 10 years with this record as a constant companion.
Evolution struck the band when crating this release, as they adhered to the 3rd Album Rule as it pertains to a band’s defining characteristics, and future evolution. Yes, one can quite clearly see the roots of chunky, Americanized grooving here, along with a host of bad lyrics, but the devolution was not too far along, and really at this point did not actually feel like devolution at all, something that cannot be said for the ensuing, stomach-churning banality of Are You Dead Yet? The sound is much fuller than on the previous Follow the Reaper, in both production and inherent style. However, though that is a distinguishing characteristic, the immense quality here all comes down to the construction of the almighty riff, and in this instance they are strong, and they are legion.
Alexi’s style matured quite a bit between these two defining albums, much more solid and brick-like as opposed to the constant aerial melodies he had consistently wrought beforehand, and indeed the sound here is poppier overall, boasting a higher plateau of accessibility. However, it’s a good kind of accessible. Utilizing a lot of deceptively simple rhythms, the songs are flowing, dynamic, and aggressive, with all manner of insanity happening at any given time. There are innumerable excellent riffing patterns here, and they’re constructed in unfailingly memorable sequences. The lyrics can be pretty terrible, given, and they’re the one pitfall that keeps this from perfection, but they aren’t nearly as flagrantly stupid as in the next release. Still, there are host of embarrassing sections, due to not only the lack of writing skills, but in inherent, tough-bro message:
"Stop! Are you ever gonna stop tryin' to be on the way that we wanna go?
Fuck! It's pissing the fuck out of us when you don't understand the word 'no' !
Now, you're tellin' that you'll win the war that's only battled cuz you're
too dumb to die. That's right! You can take your war and shove it up your ass,
then close your eyes and say goodbye."
That said, not all of them are so bad, and some even work well within the musical context. The caliber of the melodies and grooves, however, renders the writing mostly inconsequential, and sometimes a bit endearing (Did I ever hurt you in any way? If I did then hear my apology: Fuck you!). All the supporting musicians have grown as well, with truly admirable performances one and all. The guitar/keyboard harmonies are just a touch less numerous than on Follow the Reaper, but they do a lot of subtler interplay throughout, to the point where it does not feel like anything is missing, though the overarching style is decidedly different. All the progressions are pretty much pure gold, oozing trademark style the entire time. Yeah, it’s flashy, but it’s exciting and memorable as all holy fuck, and that’s what matters.
Needled 24/7 immediately clues one in to the change in aesthetics, pulsing and crushing, with punctuation from the keys and infectious leads. The electronic elements were a bit weird at first, but they fit with the motif, as the keys spiral off or accentuate riffing patterns as is necessary. It may sound odd to say of a Bodom release, but I’m still noticing interesting things going on in the background in these songs, even after a decade, be it a subtle keyboard line or an odd flourish of the bass. It’s nothing of immense depth, given, but there are a lot of individual little sweet spots that aren’t immediately noticeable as you focus in on the main sequence notation. Sixpounder is the only song I don’t absolutely love (though I still like it), a dense chugging number containing an oddly dissonant chorus and face-palming proclamations of ‘666!’ The resounding stupidity of that small section still takes me out of the experience a bit. It’s incredibly infectious music, though, and not to be taken too seriously, lest you put yourself in jeopardy of being no fun. Chokehold has a hurried, chugging central riff that goes off on quick, fibrous tangents, before relenting to the starry beauty of the keyboards and shoots a dual-solo money shot of melodious awesome right in your stunned face. Bodom Beach Terror boasts one of the most epic, infectious choruses on their career, with a suitably grandiose melodic backdrop for its murderous machinations.
Truly, the highlights are all inclusive, from the mid-paced grandeur of Angels Don’t Kill to the hilarious Japanese-flavored melody of Triple Corpse Hammerblow, the endearingly pissed-off thrashing of You’re Better Off Dead, Lil’ Bloodred Ridin’ Hood in its wild compositional frenzy, and the titular and ravaging Hate Crew Deathroll itself. It’s all just gravy, and Alexi’s vocals are much more pronounced and varied than in the past, even displaying hints of melody themselves at times, though all in his trademark ‘yowling’ style.
I often wonder how I would perceive Bodom had I not grown up with them, if my love for this (and its predecessors) is based purely on its own merits, or if nostalgia colors my perceptions to an unprofessional degree. Indeed, I’ve had some crazy fucking times, nay, crazy YEARS, with this as background music, but I believe the stirring melodious patterns here would slap me in the face anyways, since they're just so unique and insane. Though it’s not their best overall, Hate Crew Deathroll is the ultimate evolution of Children of Bodom, the last leap before a spectacular fall, with a quality and consistency that, as of now in October 2012, they have not even come close to attaining since. Short a couple of embarrassing lyrics and a paltry few riffs, this is an amazing record, and the brilliance of its successes minimize any complaints to afterthoughts. It may be silly, happy, and poetically useless, but it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had, a trend that continues even today as I inevitably creep towards old age and death. This is pure belligerent melodic mayhem in its most distilled form, untouchable by passing years or the bands following depths of sell-out decrepitude. It’s not quite perfect, barely eclipsed by Hatebreeder and Follow the Reaper, but it’s nevertheless one of my favorites for life.
I must conclude with a broader statement than anticipated, here. My audience is growing a bit, with a handful regular readers (don't get me wrong, my site is both tiny and humble), and I wanted to address a concern. I got an email concerning my review for Follow the Reaper, from a fellow headbanger claiming to really enjoy Reaper Division, but that he lost all respect for me when I gave a Children of Bodom album 100%. To put it plainly, that really sucked. This will not be the last time we conflict, you and I, but I still hope to help you all find amazing music in the coming years… it’s my mission. However, I will never sacrifice my own honest opinion, or pander to anybody, not for the sake of anything. Opinions vary, sometimes overlapping and often opposing, but we can all celebrate the transcendent beauty of audible extremity, in however way we innately appreciate it. I’m certainly no adored (or even mildly popular) author, or poet laureate, but in crafting my monument to this abstract entity called metal, my life obsession, brick by carpal-tunnel brick in the form of my reviews, I hope to share some common ground with even a few people. To that end, there are records that cannot be ignored. Hate Crew is an absolute fist-pounding triumph that I will be listening to until I’m either 6 feet under or go deaf, in which case I’d soon die inside anyways. I don't quite think it's perfect, but it has a unique charm that no other record in the world can match. This may not be the be-all-end-all of creativity, depth, or musical achievement, but it continues to be one of the most pleasing and exciting pieces of music to ever grace my strange little slice of existence.
-Left Hand of Dog
Whenever you hear anything about this band, it's nearly always either praise for their first three albums or criticism of their last three. 'Hate Crew Deathroll' is usually left unmentioned or seen as "the beginning of the end" of this band's relevance in the metal world. After listening to each of Bodom's albums multiple times, I've decided that this is quite possibly my favorite for various reasons.
The single factor that propels this album a step ahead of its predecessors (except maybe 'Follow the Reaper') is the keyboard work. Janne plays many of his greatest keyboard solos throughout the album ("Chokehold" in particular comes to mind) and provides the keyboard melodies and atmosphere that help turn songs such as 'Angels Don't Kill" and the title track into the Bodom classics that they remain today. Another aspect of this album that I really respect is the fact that it explores new musical territory, drawing from thrash metal, melodic death metal, power metal, and other genres to create a truly unique sound.
As always the guitar work is top notch, with Roope Latvala (ex. Stone, Sinergy) taking Alexander's place on rhythm guitar and bringing echoes of thrash metal to the band's overall sound. Alexi's solos and riffs are impressive as always, especially in tracks such as Needled 24/7 and Sixpounder. The only downside of the guitar work is that the neoclassical elements that inspired the first three Bodom albums are gone. This will greatly irritate the people who worship the first three albums for their neoclassical tendencies, but for others (myself included) who didn't want to hear a 'Follow the Reaper' or 'Hatebreeder' part II, the change of course is appreciated. Although only some of the solos on this album match up to the technical brilliance of their predecessors, Alexi is still able to play catchy and melodic solos and riffs that are varied and often memorable.
In terms of vocals, an obvious shift in both Alexi's lyrics and vocal style is evident. The lyrics on this album take a more antagonistic approach than in the past, although I don't really focus on them, as Alexi Laiho has never been a great lyricist. Also, the vocals are now much more aggressive than in the past, which some people dislike and compare to hardcore and other genres, but I actually enjoy them quite a bit. Is seems like in the past Children of Bodom had to assert their prowess as a band solely through their guitar and keyboard work, which helped draw listeners away from Alexi shouting "Bodom after midnight! Bodom after midnight!" and adding very little to the band's overall sound. Now his vocals add energy and an overall rebellious vibe to the songs, which I enjoy more than Alexi's more black metal influenced vocals.
In terms of bass playing and drumming, their is an obvious shift towards thrash metal both stylistically and rhythmically. Jaska uses more double bass pedaling than on previous albums and does a great job providing a foundation for the band's sound (along with Roope and Henkka), especially on tracks such as 'Bodom Beach Terror' and 'Sixpounder'.
My only complaints about this album are that the guitar solos display less virtuosity than on previous offerings and that this album propelled the band in a direction that eventually led to their decline, beginning with 'Are You Dead Yet'. Overall a very impressive release that metal fans everywhere should experience for themselves.
Against all better judgment, including my own skepticism towards their genre, I like Children Of Bodom. The principle reason for this odd attraction lay in the sort of blackened power metal aesthetic that they have going on, employing elements as mutually exclusive as Yngwie Malmsteen and Enslaved, save perhaps their shared Nordic origin and love of formal complexity. Combined with a less orthodox musical reaction to the established Gothenburg sound, there is a unique charm that set COB apart from the army of Swedish and Finnish imitators of Dark Tranquility, which would come to influence the likes of Skyfire and Kalmah as well.
“Hate Crew Deathroll” is a contentious album in light of this, as it is the first album where this winning formula started to fall away. The principle culprit in this is Alexi’s vocal display, which has allowed some of the worst elements of NYHC to slip in, and result in a sound that is often comparable to the recently birthed metalcore scene. In the otherwise excellent opening song “Needled 24/7”, traces of what makes Matt Heafy’s vocals so displeasing are on full display, be it the weakened bastard child of Mustaine and Hetfield growl, along with a few gimpy screamo moments that would make Dani Filth sound like Lord Worm. Bits and pieces of this deeply flawed form of extreme vocal style are littered in various sections of most of the songs on here, along side Laiho’s more orthodox brand of toneless growls.
Naturally a few lone offensive vocal moments don’t destroy an album, but there is also a slight tilt towards a more mainstream, groove based metal evident in the musical display. Slower songs such as “Sixpounder” and “Angels Don’t Kill” possess a few token sections where the riff work bears resemblance to something Fear Factory might have messed with about 8 years prior, although the melodic contours and keyboard drenched atmosphere is still pretty well in line with Bodom’s characteristic sound. “Angels Don’t Kill” is actually among the more distinctive songs on here, as its Middle Eastern thematic material and dark atmosphere set it apart from anything else the band has ever done, in spite of the occasionally grating vocal moment.
Stylistic changes aside, there is still a solid collection of songs on here that retain enough of the traditional blend of melodic hooks, sepulchral shrieks and technical masterwork to please the die hard fan of “Hatebreeder” and “Follow The Reaper”. The blistering thrasher with extra madness in the vain of Annihilator “You’re Better Of Dead” and the slower epic anthem with a few old school Motorhead meets Judas Priest moments “Bodom Beach Terror” are sure to please the rank and file of Bodom’s ‘97-‘01 crowd. The rougher, Destruction inspired title song with the occasional Anthrax inspired gang chorus is also high on the priority list. But against all better judgment and my own misgivings about Laiho’s vocal evolution, I keep coming back to “Needled 24/7” for its masterful blend of riff happy power metal and that explosive chorus section. It’s literally one of those cases where the music will force you to tune out the negative parts of the vocal performance.
Phrases like “mild letdown” or “slight bump in the road” might fit here had this fine Finnish testament to melodeath taken a different road after this, but when considering where things went after this, “foreshadowing a downfall” is a more appropriate sentiment. There are many peaks and few valleys to be found here musically, but it’s at the highest part of the crest where the trough looks the most threatening, and it is very visible when considering where the previous albums were characteristically speaking. Nevertheless, this somewhat flawed album is still quite enjoyable and should be owned by anyone who wants extra consonant sprinkles on their melodic death sundae.
With Follow the Reaper, Children of Bodom had reached an obvious peak of their career, churning out an album so loaded with neo-classical brilliance counter pointed by their more extreme metal tendencies, an album that had “fan favorite” written all over it. Then came Hate Crew Deathroll, and a few drastic changes in the trademark Bodom sound. Many people responded less than favorably, labeling this release as the beginning of the band’s downfall, and a definite change for the worse. I’m here to tell you that despite what you’ve heard from its detractors, this is still a choice cut of CoB and a rather underrated (or at least it feels like it is to me) album.
Let’s start with the main focus of every album these guys have put out: the guitars. HCD marked a significant turn towards heavier, chugging guitar rhythms as opposed to the pure, blinding speed of the past. I’ll be the first to admit that the slight groove element did come into play far too much on the altogether uninspiring follow-up “Are You Dead Yet?”, but on HCD, the lower-end rhythms simply add a more dynamic balance to an already well-rounded sound. And for those of you who remain (like me) utterly infatuated with Bodom’s neo-classical side, don’t fret one bit. Just listen to the lead in Sixpounder at 2:12 (cued in by Alexi’s scream of “Load the Sixpounder!!!!” for which I am named on this site) and tell me Yngwie wouldn’t be proud!
Janne Warman, as always, adds his own texture and melody to every song with his keyboard prowess, though his role has been noticeably diminished since Follow the Reaper to coincide with Bodom’s new, thrashier approach. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my books however, as I found the constant keyboard wankery to be a little much at times (though make no mistake, he and Alexi’s jaw-dropping duels and harmonies still make it in at the right times).
As always, CoB’s rhythm section never falters or fails to impress. Jaska provides a rock-solid foundation for his band with steady rhythms and quick double bass-ing, with some very impressive fills thrown in for good measure. Henkka doesn’t stand out as much as he could, though that’s easily forgivable as he’s got some very fast and technical guitar to follow, and he never misses a beat in that respect.
Now, onto a real controversial topic on this album: Alexi Laiho’s vocals. On this album, Alexi has gone for a decidedly lower-end, barking style quite unlike his death/black metal shrieking of the past. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it fits with the album’s direction (though I’ll be the first to admit I found myself missing the Follow the Reaper and Hatebreeder style quite a bit). Alexi also steps out a bit on some songs, using whispers, half-narrations (see Needled 24/7), more gang shouts and even pseudo-clean vocals on a few tracks, all of which are fairly hit-and-miss on the album, in my opinion. Overall however, Alexi turns in a solid, well-fit performance.
The songs themselves, range from solid to downright jaw-dropping to anthemic at times. Needled 24/7 is a speedy, catchy opener that’s sure to pull the listener in immediately. Other favorites of mine include concert staple Sixpounder, the crushing and melodic Bodom Beach Terror, Triple Corpse Hammerblow (I can’t help but chant “don’t push me!” and “TRIPLE CORPSE! HAMMERBLOW!” every time this one plays) and the closing title track, which is a goddamn anthem for any devoted fan.
All in all, despite being quite the change from Children of Bodom’s “classic” sound, Hate Crew Deathroll is a damn fine album, and one I can’t imagine any fan of the band’s preceding output not enjoying.
It was destined to happen...stylistic simplicity, I mean. It happens to the best music groups in one way or another, at any time in their existence...whether it's a well-chronicled fall from grace or a more gradual descent into proverbial tar pits, most (but not all) metal groups are not immune to a few rocks thrown into the river of creativity, slightly marring the flow of musical juices but not damming it completely. CHILDREN OF BODOM are, sadly, not an exception to the rule. They stormed the scene with three absolute killer releases (the chaotic "Something Wild", the Mozarty "Hatebreeder" and the aggressive "Follow the Reaper"), and it looked as though everything would come up roses for these stalwart Finns, as they reaped the benefit of their unholy fusion of classic rock and symphonic black metal the likes of which many may have tried but unduly failed. And so, with the looming shadows of Century Media's worldwide distribution hanging over them like so many Swords of Damacles, the listener would wonder if, musically, the cup would runneth over.
It didn't, really. More like a mere splash off the side.
"Hate Crew Deathroll" finds the BODOM boys continuing their tried-and-true classic/al metal path, but more simplistic in approach. Maybe it was the difficulty following up "Follow the Reaper", or the increase in touring watering down the inspiration, but "Deathroll", while being a solid and very listenable album, lacks the punch the first three albums teemed with. The music became more riff-heavy, tempos slowed to a mid-paced trot, and the lyrics became more apprehensive and confrontational, but over-all the album eschews much of the "been there, done that" appeal and continues to remain fresh even after repeated listens. In a way, this album could be considered the "gateway drug" of the BODOM discography, an ease into the earlier, more angry material, but still a fun little romp of metaldom nonetheless. Alexi Laiho still proves to have more songwriting and guitaring talent in one hand than some of his scene contemporaries, as evidenced on heavy slabs of beef like "Little Bloodred Riding Hood", "Needled 24-7" and "You're Better Off Dead", as well as slower tracks, from the bludgeoning ("Sixpounder", "Bodom Beach Terror") to the dirgey ("Angels Don't Kill"). The trade-off solos would appear even better and tighter between him, now-ex-axeman Alexander Kuoppola and keymaster Janne Warman, coming off as musical conversations as opposed to two players going through the motions. However, for as good as the album is, it can leave a fan from the very start of their career a bit underwhelmed, as it appears more hollow and "mainstream" than one would expect. That would be the chief problem, as finding other negative issues would be a fruitless endeavor.
So in the end, while not exactly on par with their earlier works, "Hate Crew Deathroll" is still a satisfying foray into metal done right, and considering what had befallen the metal world in the years up to this release, the listener couldn't ask for anything more. Thumbs up.
Hate Crew Deathroll is not only thrashier sounding than previous albums – its also more chaotic, angrier, and excessive. The fine-tuned polished sound has been replaced with all of this and Children of Bodom are moving away from the power metal influence and replacing that with a thrash influence. For fans of some of the previous work – this album is going to sound harsh to you – for thrash fans like me this is a little slice of heaven.
Children of Bodom had already hit the mark with their powered death metal ways. To keep the sound from growing stale they must have decided that they needed to challenge themselves because Hate Crew Deathroll is non-stop excess in its writing.
The guitar work is crisp sounding with a lot of speedy melodies and blazing leads and solos. In fact, a good portion of this album is solos on guitars and keyboards. Both guitarists and the keyboardist are amazing musicians and this album (even though it seems egotistical at times) fits together very nicely. The guitar work is as tight as ever with the solo and rhythm trade-offs being non-stop. The catchiness of the leads is astounding and even the rhythm is going to have some of the most critical fans nodding their heads.
The inclusion of faster and less power metal sounding keyboard lines gives the album a jacked up feeling. Warman is an impressive keyboard player who must have felt the need to challenge himself in his soloing on this album. Although in the production of the album the keyboards are now pushed a little further to the back then normally. There is a strong focus on the dueling guitars.
The bass has been stepped up to the front once again. The bass had disappeared for a while in the band’s career but now with Hate Crew Deathroll it has taken back it’s rightful rhythmical throne. The bass holds a very strong place as the main rhythm guitar on this album and during most of the soloing it’s the sole force that keeps the music from derailing and just heading off into improvised territory. Similar comments on the drums. The use of the snare and bass drum really give this album structure that it needs.
Alexi’s vocals are a big controversy on this album – and really I have no idea why. He doesn’t wander all that much from his normal sound. Hate Crew Deathroll’s vocals are definitely more thrash sounding than death sounding now. And with inclusions of some half-way sung sections and even some spoken parts (“Needled 24/7” is a great example of this) there is some new variety here. The lyrics are finally getting better - “Angels Don’t Kill” is somewhat thoughtful. But they still aren’t anything amazing.
What some people may call a step back for the band, this album gave me a similar feeling that the band’s debut did. The music is slightly more chaotic (with so many solos – this isn’t that hard) and the album in general just feels so much more threatening. There is a new angry energy that flows from the album that the band has been missing for a while. It’s not all that similar to the debut there are some new elements present. For one there is a ballad-ish type song (“Angels Don’t Kill”) that really breaks up the speed and intensity that the album really pushes and gives the listener a break.
Even though it’s not as high rated compared to the other Children of Bodom albums – this is my second favorite album of theirs. I don’t think it has as solid of writing as their last few – but it’s pure excess is enjoyable and the new found energy is really thrilling.
Songs to check out: Needled 24/7, Sixpounder, Triple Corpse Hammerblow.
Ah yes, Children of Bodom. The band that brought us Follow the Reaper, Hatebreeder, and Something Wild. The vaguely defined, in terms of sub-genre, metal outfit has garnered a quite impressive fan base over the years. I could count myself as one of those fans, seeing as they're one of my favourite bands, and Follow the Reaper and Something Wild are easily among my favourite albums of all time. Yet…for some reason I can't get into the band's fourth album, Hate Crew Deathroll. Though the band changes their style up a bit from, the "Bodom feel" is still present. Which is especially strange as I enjoy each of the "Hate Crew's" other albums. So what's my stance on this release? I'd say that Hate Crew Deathroll is definitely Children of Bodom's weakest release, and for the most part, is a pretty forgettable record.
Right from the start, it's quite evident that something is wrong. The heavy, melodic, yet ultimately unimpressive Needled 24/7 opens up the album and as followed by the equally monotone Sixpounder and Chokehold (Cocked 'n' Loaded). It's definitely Children of Bodom, but when compared to the excellent beginnings of the rest of their albums, the Hate Crew Deathroll Bodom sounds uninspiring and uninteresting. It isn't until the fourth track, humorously titled Bodom Beach Terror, which Bodom starts to pick up the pace. And even this track, though undeniably good, is not in the upper echelon of the band's songs. With songs like the slower, ballad-esque Angels Don't Kill or the frenzied, rapid fire assault of (the also humorously titled and quite reminiscent of older Bodom) Triple Corpse Hammerblow, Hate Crew Deathroll manages to maintain some level of interest, but the slightly strong middle section is not powerful enough to over come the weaker start. And it isn't that songs like Needled 24/7 or Sixpounder are terribly bad songs, as they are, in a way, fairly impressive pieces of music. They just do not sound like they're very inspired or well thought out.
But how about the music to be found on Hate Crew Deathroll? To be quite honest, the music found on the album is not that bad. It's fairly good actually. The record could be considered a bridge between the often revered Follow the Reaper and the often mocked Are You Dead Yet. The melodious, neo-classical passages that were found on the former are still found here, albeit a little toned down. But the heavier aspects of the band's sound, aspects which can be found on the Are You Dead Yet, also happen to pop up from time to time. These heavier elements are part of the new direction that Bodom has decided to take, as songs like Needled 24/7 and Chokehold (Cocked 'n' Loaded) reveal, and are for the most part well done. Bodom Beach Terror probably does the best job in fusing together the fast, melodic, up-beat style of old with the crushingly riff-laden style of new, and when considering that it's one of the few songs to feature adequate song writing and Children of Bodom at their top level, then a case can definitely made to claim it as one of the album's best. You're Better Off Dead is another track which accomplishes this fairly well, but the album is not really consistent enough for my liking.
One element I've really grown to dislike on Hate Crew Deathroll is guitarist/vocalist Alexi Laiho's vocal performance. I found that his harsh screams found on songs like Lake Bodom, Follow the Reaper, or Warheart were about as enjoyable as harsh vocals can be, and did an excellent job in the role that they were granted. But with the band's forth album Alexi decided that, like the band's musical direction, it was time for a change. And like the music, the vocals haven't exactly gone through a huge transformation, but it's still noticeable. Opting for a more shout-like vocal style than a harsh, black metal shriek, Laiho's efforts are quite annoying, especially on some of the earlier tracks like Needled 24/7 and Sixpounder. His harsh shouts really disrupt the flow of the songs (which weren't especially great in the first place), and really takes away from the listening experience. Now, that isn't to say he's always bad. The sombre highlight of the album, Angels Don't Kill is one of the songs where Bodom's frontman is tolerable and actually put forth an emotion that doesn't convey rage and aggression. His efforts on Angels Don't Kill fit the emotions of the song, and really enhance the song's feel in a positive, noticeable way.
Overall, Children of Bodom's fourth release, Hate Crew Deathroll, is a good release. But it isn't a great release. It suffers from inconsistency and well, a general lack of interestingness. It experiences a slow start with songs like Needled 24/7 and Chokehold (Cocked 'n' Loaded), a start that although the band slightly recovers from, puts a damper on the listener for many of the remaining tracks. Songs such as the emotional Angels Don't Kill and the brutal Bodom Beach Terror are just two of the songs that show Hate Crew Deathroll's good side, and are enjoyable listens that any fan of this type of music could enjoy. Though it isn't a bad release, I don't think I would recommend it, especially to new listeners of the band, as this is easily the band's weakest release thus far.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
It seems like Children Of Bodom have broken free of the pressures put on them by the massive expectations of avid Metal fans and decided to write their music the way they want and have some fun at the same time. Nothing points to this more than tongue in cheek song-titles such ‘Lil’ Blood Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Bodom Beach Terror’ which are cheesier than anything they have done before.
Of course the band cannot get away without the cries of ‘selling out’ from their fan base, especially when the vocals are noticeably less harsh and there is even a croaky attempt at singing. Other than this the only other noticeable flaw is the over-polished production, which detracts a bit away from the more aggressive guitar riffs. These would have been suited to a guitar tone similar to Kreator’s ‘Coma Of Souls’ or Carcass’s ‘Heartwork’ which employ a clean, but raw feel that gives the riffs more punch. Despite this, “Hate Crew Deathroll” is their best attempt at writing honest songs
So, what about the music? Well, the band still performs in the manner they always have, with each member putting in a typical virtuosic performance. The songs have moved away from the progressive natures of the past and are focused on a more straightforward and stripped down style than we are accustomed to from the band. They even throw in some techno influenced moments in the first track ‘Needled 24/7’. Although this adds variety, it doesn’t sound all that convincing and such, ahem, mallcore moments are what stop this album from being better.
The riffs of the band have never been consistent enough to make an all out riff-fest album, despite the band pulling out the occasional memorable riff. On this album, this precedent continues. Here we have a mixture of riffs drawing from a Speed Metal background, and conversely some of a Thrash Metal nature, the most overt of these being on ‘Sixpounder’. A more melodic Gothenberg style that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early In Flames or Soilwork album is also present. The faster riffs are often accentuated by a flashy scalar fill, which adds interest to the song structures. There is also some spectacular shredding action littered throughout the album, but this is usually limited which is a disappointment. Although this helps the songs keep direction, as they aren’t flawed by pretentious wankery. The best examples of such lead guitar work occur on ‘Bodom Beach Terror’, ‘Angels Don’t Kill’ and the title-track.
The keyboards work in tandem with the guitar and provide a backdrop that generates a healthy atmospheric presence. This also helps provide an extra dimension to the sound similar to European flavoured Power Metal bands. The keyboards also take the spotlight in some instances and provide some stunning solos, amongst the best the band have ever produced, comparable to such excellent playing as found on Stratovarious and Sonata Arctica albums. The keyboards are most eminent on the cheesy Power Metal track ‘Triple Corpse Hammerblow’ which also features a mid-section dominated by some nice Speed Metal riffs.
The band has also thrown in a slower tempo song, not far off being a ballad. ‘Angels Don’t Kill’ is probably the best composed song on this album, layered with emotional and almost haunting keyboards providing the atmosphere with some fantastic lead guitar melodies at the forefront.
Also, worth a mention is the inclusion of two well executed covers from The Ramones and Slayer. Fans of the band may be pleasantly surprised if they give this a fair hearing.
While this may not be as good as Children Of Bodom’s ‘Hatebreeder’ masterpiece, it is in every right one of the band’s more consistent releases. Sure, it is toned down compared to their previous outings, but the song writing is free of the distracting aspects that their more technical progressive moments provided in the past, and is amongst the most consistent they have produced.
The newest release from Finland’s melodic death metal heroes, Children of Bodom, has been out for awhile but always seems to hold a prominent spot in my CD player. The album is called Hatecrew Deathroll, and while it isn’t exactly groundbreaking it is still the same thrashy melodic sound that we have come to expect from the Finnish quintet.
Children of Bodom, led by lead singer and lead guitarist Alexi Laiho, have definitely delivered on their trademark sound with Hatecrew. The album combines the blistering rhythms of Laiho and Alexander Kuoppola, with the lead parts of both Laiho and keyboardist, Janne Warman. The way these two work together in creating melodies and harmonies are second to none. Of course, Laiho is the primary songwriter in the group and therefore his presence in the band is pushed to the forefront, with incredible vai-like solo’s that add an intensity to the song.
However, there have been some complaints of becoming more commercial with their sound among the more hardcore fans. Hatecrew may, to some, seem to lack the edge of the previous albums, however, I don’t see it. To me this album is at least as good as anything to come before it. The songwriting is beyond impressive on this album, and let’s face it, that’s what’s really important. The melodies, which are of course what give CoB their signature sound, are top notch on this album.
Some of the best of examples of this are on songs like Bodom Beach Terror. This song has an incredibly catchy chorus melody and then follows it up with a blistering stand-alone riff that helps add to the songs thrash feeling.
The first single from the album, Needled 24/7, is also a remarkable song. From the opening riff to the songs main melody this song completely captures the listener. The vocals on this song, while not clean, are cleaner than most have CoB songs and gives it an angrier, more bitter edge. Other great songs on the album would include Sixpounder, Better off Dead, Hatecrew Deathroll, and the slower (but not slow) Angels Don’t Kill.
The only real complaint I have with this album is the same that I have with all CoB albums, and that is that the lyrics tend to get somewhat cheesy at times. They still aren’t ultra-cheesy or anything of the like so it’s not a huge problem.
So ignore the nay Sayers that are crying foul at this album and give it a listen for yourself. Hatecrew Deathroll is, in my opinion, just another strong case for CoB being the heirs to the throne of melodic death metal.
Hate Crew Deathroll is a logical progression from Hatebreeder to Follow the Reaper to this. Unfortunately, the logical progrssion is definitely not what is in the band's best interest.
It's slower and it's more fake. The overall tempo of the songs is much lower than either Hatebreeder or Follow the Reaper. Raatikainen is still pounding away on his drums at lightning fast speeds, but the guitars don't seem to be matching the speed anymore, and the keyboards are turning into little industrial-sounding background elements, which is not what Warman is here for. Worst of all is that Alexi's amazingly brutal vocals are distorted to the point that this albums sounds more like an album from The Kovenant, and while I don't necessarily hate The Kovenant's sound, I don't appreciate the bastardization of Alexi's vocals.
The worst example of this self-mutilation is on Needled 24/7, which is a terrible mix of a bastardized Wheel of Time riff and a cover to Nagash's new sound. The other really bad abuse case happens in the overly-synthetic sounding Chokehold (Cocked 'n Loaded), which just completely branches off from the Children of Bodom that we know and love.
Fortunately, the band gets its shit together and puts out more of the stuff that made them so popular in the first place later in the album. Bodom Beach Terror features a standard drum machine rhythm in the beginning, but it progresses into a very respectable Children of Bodom song, although I wish the keyboards weren't as sappy as the are in the choruses. You're Better Off Dead goes straight back into the fast-as-fuck days of Children of Bodom that we all know and love, and you can safely start headbanging again to some thrashy classics. Hate Crew Deathroll follows the Downfall blueprint to create a very thrashy song that is very much worth the pounding around that you will be doing to it.
It's got some good songs, and since the bonus songs are also decent, the album is worth the purchase for fans. It's definitely not old-school Bodom, however, so don't expect another Hatebreeder or Follow the Reaper.
The new Children of Bodom album is definitely no disappointment, although it sure is no Hatebreeder. It’s neither as fast nor as insane as Hatebreeder, but it’s still for the most part pretty damn fast and insane.
I only have two CoB albums as of yet (Hate Crew and Hatebreeder, obviously) but I’ve heard some songs from Follow The Reaper.
This one is a bit faster than what I’ve heard of FTR, but it’s more focused than the devastating Hatebreeder, and it has more melodic parts.
The usage of keyboards is much different from the previous releases. Occasionally it takes a sound similar to that of Nightwish, like during the intro to Sixpounder, for instance, and it’s often used to create haunting melodies in the background, but now there are also more keyboard solos than on Hatebreeder.
The guitarwork is still heavy and fast as fuck, but it’s not quite as dark as that of Hatebreeder, and there are some songs that are quite uplifting, in a strange kind of way.
We are also delivered shitloads of blazing solos, just as one would expect.
The bass is not as low in the mix as before, so we can see that they have a pretty talented bass player, even though he mostly just follows along with the guitars. The drumming is intense as really tight, as always.
The biggest change from previous albums to this one was the vocals. While Alexi Wildchild Laiho still shrieks his heart out, but there are more clean vocals, like the ones that can be found on the chorus of the Hatebreeder title track. It’s used mainly on choruses (Needled 24/7 for example) and is used very effectively, and provides some very nice singalong moments.
Also, there is some very tasteful usage of backing vocals on some of the choruses, like Triple Corpse Hammerblow, You’re Better Off Dead and the title track, which makes them more memorable.
Another thing that has improved is the individual tracks. Some of the Hatebreeder songs sounded pretty much the same, and they didn’t have a lot of personality, but that’s not much of a problem here. Most of the songs have their own sound, and don’t blend into eachother easily.
Still, this album is not all perfect. It’s not quite as all-out lethal as Hatebreeder, and the song constructions are not as interesting anymore, as they usually follow quite similar patterns, and if they don’t they tend to get slightly forgettable.
Another thing that really annoys me is the pre-chorus of Needled 24/4. The clean vocals there sound really bad and whiny, and the silly keyboard effects sound like something from a fucking Korn song!
To name a few song highlights, I’d say Bodom Beach Terror (insane verses and apocalyptic keyboards), Triple Corpse Hammerblow (catchy-as-fuck chorus and amazing usage of haunting keyboard melodies), You’re Better Off Dead (catchiest song on here, with the “ooh ooh” backing vocals in the chorus) and the title track (insane guitar riffing and great usage of backing vocals in the chorus).
Hmm… Seems like I named almost half of the album as the highlights. To narrow down the list, the two absolutely greatest songs would have to be Triple Corpse Hammerblow and Hate Crew Deathroll. The weakest songs are probably Chokehold (boring song construction and very, very forgettable vocal lines. Not terrible, just pretty boring) and Angel’s Don’t Kill (the dark chorus is very cool, but otherwise it’s just too slow and melodic for it’s own good- sure, Children of Bodom are supposed to be melodic but the melodies are too bright and uplifting for this song).
This is a really fucking solid release, despite a few minor flaws that appear. The large amount of clean vocals and backing vocals might catch you off guard at first, but soon you should notice that it fits in very well with the musical direction the album has taken, and adds a lot to the songs.