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Countries like Finland are amazing places. From what this ignorant Canadian is aware of, metal of all kinds is appreciated a lot more there than it is here. Reading that over 13, 000 copies of Iron Maiden's A Matter of Life and Death had been sold to those crazy Finns (and 500, 000 in a matter of three or four days) only reinforced that opinion. So it shouldn't be any surprise that the country of 5 million churns out some excellent metal bands. Whether you like power metal, death metal, or black metal, you're sure to find something you like. One of the bands that has risen to the top of the metal scene, not only in Finland, but the entire world is Children of Bodom. Fusing a neo-classical power metal sound with a harsh vocal style normally associated with extreme metal, the band is a favourite of many. Bodom released its first album, Something Wild, in 1998. They have since recorded 4 studio albums and one live album, with their latest, Are You Dead Yet?, being released over a year ago.
Something Wild is a very fitting album title. Though it clocks in at just over 32 minutes, listening to Something Wild is like taking a musical adventure. The album is very atmospheric, with excellent keyboards and riffs which make songs like Lake Bodom, Red Light in my Eyes Pt. 1, and Touch Like An Angel of Death all that much more enjoyable. Bodom's axemen are definitely talented players, as heard in several of their complex solos and riffs. No member of the band lets up on their musical assault, which remains very aggressive through the 32 minute running time. This is great, as it seems Children of Bodom is at their best writing heavy material that's full of hate, which whiles it seems silly at times, I'm not going to complain about.
Bodom looses a lot of listeners when it comes to the vocals. Vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho has his vocal approaches rooted firmly in that of extreme metal. Though this may open doors to new audiences for the band, fans of a more traditional approach to power metal may be put off by Alexi's screaming and growling. I will admit, at first I was not quite a fan of Laiho's efforts, but I gave them another chance and began to appreciate them a lot more. Alexi's vocals are done very well, and not once do they take away from the music. Alexi does not present a distraction and his screaming actually fits the band's chaotic, hateful sound very well. When you think Children of Bodom, you think not only of the epic keyboards and neo-classical soloing, but also Laiho's vocals – the two go hand in hand. In addition to being vital to the band's sound, Laiho's vocals are also preferable due to the fact that each of the song's lyrics (save for those of Touch Like An Angel of Death) were made up by Alexi on the spot, and as a result, are not very good. The harsh vocals cancel out the horrible lyrics for the most part, as they are very difficult to make out on your own. Perhaps on of the only moments where one can understand Laiho is in the chorus of Red Light In My Eyes Pt. 1, one of the catchiest parts of the album. Like them or hate them, Alexi's harsh vocals are important to both Something Wild and the band's sound itself, and are not likely to disappear.
As mentioned earlier, Children of Bodom have a very impressive neo-classical element in their sound. This is likely what draws me to this album so much. Bodom's guitarists really know their stuff and they put it to good use on Something Wild, as heard in the likes of Lake Bodom, Touch Like An Angel of Death, and The Nail. The pitch on the guitars is perfect for such a sound and very enjoyable to listen to. Simply put, the instrumental section is very well done. It would have been interesting to see how the band would have handled a full blown instrumental on this release. As the album is only 32 minutes long, it certainly would have been very welcome.
Overall Something Wild is a very good album, one of my favourite debut albums of all time. On this release, Children of Bodom introduce metal fans to their extreme power metal sound which dominates the much of the band's discography. Though the vocals might not be your cup of tea, if you are a fan of melodic metal, there is very little to be disappointed about. Something Wild is well crafted power metal at its finest. Get this if you have not already.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)