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Children of Bodom has come a long way since Something Wild. For better, or worse, fans took the evolution in what ever manner they chose. I like every album, so far. I'm mixed on this one. Here's why:
It's a good idea to point out with the most noticeable aspect, the vocals. I'm not sure what happened between Blooddrunk and Relentless Reckless Forever but Laiho's vocals have changed. It's not exactly what most would thing. This wasn't a revert back to when Alexi used to sing with those black metal-esque vocals. He sounds like he's hurt his throat. Interestingly enough, I looked up some live videos from recent concerts and the vocals aren't edited to sound that way. That's how Laiho sings now, so something messed up his voice. Compare his voice and Are You Dead Yet? or Blooddrunk and you'll see a big change. If you thought he was hard to understand then, well now you'll have a harder time. In "Northpole Throwdown" I swore for the longest time Alexi sang the line "Look at my titty" (the real line is "Look at my kingdom", it's gotten that bad). On "Ugly" Alexi truly sounds odd. He sounds so scratchy and as if he had a sore throat when singing the song. The guitar makes up for the vocals and still makes it listenable. There isn't much to say than that. Alexi does provide some excellent vocals on "Party All The Time", but if you're like me and got it in America day-of release you got screwed a song. That song being "Party All The Time". Anyway, the vocals on that track are more of what I was expecting to hear from Laiho. The clean vocals are well executed and if you remember their cover of "Rebel Yell" then you know singing clean isn't foreign to him.
Next up is the guitars. While they still have some of the similar COB-mystique we've all come to love there's still something awry in Denmark. Some of the riffs don't seem to have that perk like prior albums. Other's seem to much like fumbling, particularly the verse riff in "Was It Worth It?". his perk can still be found on the album so not all hope is lost. Otherwise it's almost standard of what you'd expect to hear from COB. As usual, the bass is invisible it's like Henkka T. Blacksmith, sadly I had to look up his name so he really is that invisible, wasn't there for the recording. He's so obscure that his band mates don't realize that strange guy with the weird guitar on stage with them and someone remembers who he is before security throws him off stage. He's like the sugar in a soda, he's in the mix but you don't notice, more like acknowledge, him.
A note on the lyrics, there's a few oddballs in the mix. For instance, this one from the title track: : "Back to the place where, I was told, drunken ignorance, Is pure, true gold". The way it's written is even odd too. You'd expect this to be at least two lines not four. The final verse in the title track, the one that mentions the monkey clinging to his back his another example. Now I know COB has some strange lyrics before, but they've worked. It seems hard to believe that they actually wrote that down. At least it isn't as bad as what Metallica wrote in the film Some Kind Of Monster. those lyrics were putrid. However, not everyone is out to make a quick buck from rockumentaries and the like and we'll never see what else they could have written. I have this strong feeling that the band on;y writes after tours not on or between them and that they never write more than necessary. They aim for nine originals, except on Something Wild with it's seven original tracks, and say "That's all for now. Let's work on guitar". Laiho seems to assert dominance in the band as he writes the only lyrics they'll ever need. There's a few questionable lyrics in there and there's at least one per song. I'm not gonna go through them all. Check out the album to see what I mean.
An aspect to the music that is of worthy mention is Janne Warmen's keyboard playing. Most complaints I've heard was that there wasn't as many keyboard parts in the album. Well, that's an incorrect statement. The keyboard plays a major part in the verse riffs of most songs on the album. Off the top of my head I can think of many keyboard solos from this album. I usually listen to the album while writing this out but I finished it and I'm not going to go listen to it three more times while I slowly type this out. But maybe that's just a point. The album is mostly easy to forget. I'm not typically thinking of this album when I have a song stuck in my head. There isn't much to comment on about the topic of keyboards since it's more of what you'd expect again.
The production is nice and clean on the album. The band's come far enough to have it that way. There's not much to comment on about it though since all there is to say is it's nice. the drumming is also as expected on this album, well-executed.
Despite accusations that this album gave the band the means to keep touring, it's not a completely terrible release they've had better. This is, in my opinion, the first time they sort of flopped on an album. It's hard to compare this to other COB albums but I'll still listen to it. It's like that redheaded child in a family of blonde, Finnish people, it sticks out. I recommend a listen if you're a fan and have been putting it off. For newcomers, however, I recommend giving the other albums a listen first, and I mean all of them and every track too. So by 2014 I expect the next release from the band. I can't wait for them to release a new album and I do hope it's better than this album. I hope it'll sound more like Hatecrew Death Roll or Are You Dead Yet?, looking at it realistically. Until then I'll see you on the reviews for that album in 2014.