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I must admit that I am not a big fan of Children of Bodom. In my opinion, those guys are a bunch of posers and their main fan base are male teenagers that think they are rebellious and very metal while they listen to their wicked music amongst other favourites such as Avenged Sevenfold or Atreyu. The number of "fucking fucks" that Alexi Laiho pronounces during the band's concerts is simply silly. I remember an interview with the so called "Wild child" for a German magazine where he tried out several sorts of beer and got heavily drunk and told about his greatest alcoholic experiences. All those things are reason why I regard Children of Bodom as a an immature fun and poser metal band that are enjoyable from time to time but not to take seriously from an artistic point of view.
But if I take a closer look at their music, I must at least admit that the band has got some talent. The keyboards are nor overwhelming, but well chosen. The guitar solos are of a high quality and there are also some great bass lines to find from time to time. The vocal quality is not much diversified but still quite unique and memorable. The only ordinary thing about the band's sound is probably the average drum work. There is also the fact that the band has a certain style and brand and doesn't quite move away from it so that there are no reasons for any new fans to try out certain new albums. You simply love or hate Children of Bodom and their style and they won't innovate or reinvent themselves.
That's why many songs on this new record sound rather similar and repeat the usual patterns. All the songs are rather short melodic death metal tracks with some keyboards and a few great guitar solos and the lyrics are about death, hate and black humour. Of course, there is another ironic fun party cover song on the record and the reaper on a rather boring and ugly album cover. The only new thing is that there is no song with the word "Bodom" on this record, maybe the band has run out of ideas but maybe the wanted to feel free to do whatever they want on this album.
Many songs have a few interesting elements in the beginning or in the instrumental parts but get soon lost and are not quite memorable. There is no typical sing along chorus, catchy riff or live hymn on this record. The only rather outstanding song might be "Was it worth it?", the first single, because of its unusual vocal parts and a mixture of progressive and aggressive sounds with some epic guitar melodies at some points. This diversity is also in the enjoyable opener "Not my funeral" and the quite hard but atmospheric "Ugly" which I would consider as album highlights.
Most of the other songs have promising beginnings but turn out to be typical and ordinary songs in the key of the old works of the band. "Shovel Knockout" for example starts with a great dark tuned bass guitar introduction and a nice guitar riff but the tension and diversity finds an end after less than a minute. "Roundtrip to hell and back" is the softest song on the record and calmer than the others. The dominating keyboards do a great job and the song would have been an amazing single but it ultimately lacks of a catchy chorus or something overall memorable. "Cry of the nihilist" has an interesting Thrash Metal attitude and some great instrumental parts but the vocals bore to death.
There are also some rather bad songs on the record. "Pussyfoot Miss Suicide" is as stupid as the title suggests and even quite embarrassing for a hype band like Children of Bodom. "Northpole throwdown" is just fast and aggressive and invites you to create a wall of death during the concerts or to simply smash your head against the wall. This is modern brutality for frustrated children but of no interest for a mature metal fan. The worst track is probably the title track "Relentless reckless forever". I think that a title track should represent an album and be one of the stronger songs but this one is simply boring and the worst choice the band could have made.
In the end, this is an average album with three quite good, three good average and three bad songs on it plus a quite useless cover song. Old fans of the band might like the album but prefer the earlier works for sure. All the others may recognize that the band hasn't moved an inch away from their typical sound and style and may quickly loose a possible interest for the Children of Boredom. Still, the album is much better than what I first expected.