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I never understood what all the rage about Children of Bodom was. Never. Shitty vox, generic riffs, and out-of-place keyboards--that sums up about every single CoB song I've ever heard. I just decided to review this one in particular because I knew its name (I had it on a compilation CD) and it happened to be a single. Please to note, I don't hate keyboards in my music. In fact, I love keyboards. But they serve no purpose in this band whatsoever. They totally clash with the shitty shrieking vocals, and make the music gayer than it already is. Hey, Bodom, here's a hint--- leave the keyboards to real power metal bands.
Yes, you heard me. CoB isn't real power metal. To me, power metal is upbeat and full of catchy choruses presented to us by a singer with, you know... POWER in his voice! Not a frog in his voice like this asshat Alexi Laiho! But hey, at least Laiho is... good at guitar solos. He can't come up with a riff worth a shit, but he can certainly shred, and that's probably the only reason I gave this any points at all. There are plenty of trade-off solos between the guitars and keyboards which is about the only thing reminiscent of power metal in this band, but by the time they get to them, Laiho's earbleed-inducing vocals make me not give a shit anymore. Plus, it just sounds so weird to hear these fluffy keys after wannabe-badass vocals. And I'm talking a Power Quest level of fluffy keys.
What the fuck is the guy behind the drumkit doing? Is there even a guy behind the drumkit? The drums on this song sound like a damn machine! Not like one of those kickass ones used to do Meshuggah's "War," I mean like a drum machine left behind from the 80s. There's no life to them, and they keep this lame hard rock beat the whole song with absolutely nothing interesting added. At least other death metal bands have br00tal drumming! But the drums can be heard; the same cannot be said for the bass. Well, I suppose non-existent bass is reminiscent of power metal, too... But still, fuck you, modern metal, and your shitty "loudness war," too.
So yeah, I think CoB embodies all that is wrong with metal today. I encourage people to try and convince me otherwise, but I think Wintersun is the only good melodic death metal band ever. These guys suck, In Flames sucks, and they're both the two heavy-hitters in the genre! I don't even wanna know how bad other melo-death bands sound! To me, the genre is just doomed, and has been from the start. CoB certainly aren't helping any, especially with tripe like this single.
So that’s the nominal bad pun out of the way…
Really? This is acceptable? Avril Lavinge’s ugly sister shits out the most inane melodic screamy keyboard based tack and people actually dig it… call me old fashioned but I always wanted my heavy metal without the words INSTANT TEEN ANTHEM emblazoned all over it in pink glitter. I actually like some cheesy and poppy aspects to metal but this is complete trite and another example of why I so rarely wander into the more mainstream end of modern metal (as in the ones you’d find in Metal Hammer).
The modern metal approach to guitar soloing is one that has always amused me. I find some guitarist’s ability to throw out some wanky pampered twiddling with absolutely no semblance to anything that could be described as an emotion other than an acute sense of sea sickness and Children of Bodom are the epitome of the modern, flash and completely fucking heartless approach to the guitar solo. Quick lads, throw in all your poorly sounded Guitar World picking exercises and impress teenage boys! The power of Vai compels you! At least pompous full-time hunched-over wankers like Steve Vai have the decency to fill their albums up completely with this vacuous soloing and limit their appeal by dressing mainly in ruffles, Children of Bodom aren’t yet so seasoned and cum too soon leaving their leads as short bursts of sticky, meaningless penis fodder. Maybe I’ve been spoilt by this unusual obsession with great soloing, I’d rather hear Wino lean back into another destroyer-of-worlds-and-neighbouring-moons lead with far fewer technical nuances and instant Guitar Hero appeal than this. Even just raw unbridled energy in say early Kreator’s leads is far more metal than this Crufts-style showboating, sure Mille’s tremolo arm may spring back and hit him in the eye but it’s got actual feeling! There is nothing much I despise more than such a calculated approach to what should be a form of expression, I’d much rather listen to a thousand teenage girls bumble their way through the chords C, G and E with their tiny hands all calloused and hurt than ever deal with such heavy metal pleasantries as the by-numbers guitar solo again.
Similar in its must-be-able-to-show-my-fingers-can-move-in-a-fast-manner is the keyboard work; again, it’s totally weak. This is a prime example of why I value metal bands that successfully integrate keyboards into a metal context rather than adding a pop melody on top of half-baked guitar work… this is why Virgin Steele and Fates Warning – those two again – have so much appeal to me amongst other factors. It’s easy to see why Children of Bodom have such a large fan base, as after all they are at heart a pop band and a bad one at that. I have absolutely no problem with great pop song writing seeping its way into heavy metal look at Motörhead for example, but Children of Bodom zone in the absolute worst aspects of pop music and as such end up as school disco meets Jackson guitars. If you do actually find value in this sort of stuff you probably also have a hankering for Panda Pops and Take That. So it seems Children of Bodom is a case of a lamb in thirteen year-old boys’ clothing and a big fuck-off Trojan Horse in heavy metal.
Further stressing the complete lack of effort here is the lyrics but maybe the lure of finger-banging pre-teen fans with your black tipped digits is far more fantastic than actually taking time over composition. Take a moment to compare this to a band who actually lived and breathed heavy metal, Overkill and their song I Hate and there you have a difference in quality and sometimes it’s better to take a step back and say “Why am I listening to this when I could be listening to such and such?” Why would I gain actual pleasure from this when I could listen to a real anthem?
It’s something I thought the metal community was fairly decent at, separating the true metal bands from the impostors, but given the general praise lauded at early Children of Bodom this doesn’t seem to be the case. Not only are these lyrics a case of plain-dealing awfulness they’re of the “I’m real bbbbbbad” nature, albeit in a pretentious fashion. This is laughable and a continuation of the very contrived nature of COB as I’m sure I could count the number of times any Children of Bodom member has rode into someone’s living room on a motorbike on my ovaries. Occasionally I’ll overlook iffy lyrics if someone sounds like they can actually carry a tune or an emotion short of being given one in a suitcase with instructions on how to lift and walk. But in a pattern as obvious as the construction of this song Alexi mumbles and gurgles in a fashion that seems to be all the rage these days.
This is another reason why I’m much rather live in complete ignorance of most modern metal and live in a separate existence not too dissimilar to That 70’s Show – though with fewer attractive red heads… I’ll have to work on that part. Here’s to hoping Alexi overdoses on Flintstones chewable vitamins and as such never graces the metal community again with such abhorrent garbage… and that, mum and dad, is all I really want for Christmas.
Shazbot Nanu Nanu!