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Truncation never sounded so good - 75%

doomknocker, May 19th, 2009

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.