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This is the beginning of one of the coolest bands to ever hit the metal scene, and it features all the shit that makes them the band that all other harsh bands want to be when they grow up.
Children of Bodom has become legendary in the metal world for their combination of amazing technical skills and their shit-kicking attitude, and you can hear all of their greatness in this well-made album. The band's sound isn't as mature as it is by the time we get to Hatebreeder, but it's a great debut album and it happens to feature one of the great Children of Bodom classics.
The most important part of Children of Bodom is the absolutely ass-kicking lineup they have. First and foremost is Alexi Laiho, who I would very simplistically describe as a harsh Kai Hansen, although there is a lot of hatred and hyperfast brutality in Laiho that you won't find in any of King Kai's numerous endeavors. Laiho is, frankly, the King of Harsh Vocals, and nobody, no matter what genre they play in, can even come close to his completely brutal supremacy. The only thing as impressive as Laiho's vocals is his guitar playing, which is extremely virtuosic and incredibly fast (for a view on just how fast, check out his guitar solo in War of Roses in the Tokyo Wearhearts live album. The next member of importance is bassist Henkka Blacksmith, whose talents only shine through marginally on this album, but prove useful in keeping the fast-as-fuck style of Children of Bodom to a steady, headbanging beat. Next is the recently-departed Jaska Raatikainen, the fastest drummer this side of The Berzerker and infinitely more talented than the aforementioned. His drumming is solid and headbanging, no question asked. Rounding out the lineup is Janne Warman, whose lightning-fast keyboarding is in the band for the sole purpose of blowing you the fuck away by realizing just how fucking fast this dude is tearing off his solos (really fucking fast, in case you weren't sure).
As I said, this album marks the maiden voyage of the Hate Crew, and it features some excellent songs to mark their blazing emergence into the metal world. Deadnight Warrior opens up with a little sound clip that suddenly dies to give way to a hyperfast drum thrash, and then some serious opening riffage from the guitar as the band works its way to the main headbanging chorus. In the Shadows is notable for its showcasing of Blacksmith's excellent bass work. The killer song on here is Lake Bodom, a classic Children of Bodom song which I assume is about the Lake Bodom murders (you can never tell with harsh vocals), but who the fuck cares, anyway? The important thing is that the riffage in here is extraordinary and you will quickly be thrashing your ass off. The other song of note is Touch Like the Angel of Death, which has a very cool opening guitar riff that leads into some great howls from Alexi as the keyboard joins in the can-do-no-wrong riff frenzy.
If you can handle harsh vocals at all, buy this motherfucker right now. This is the sort of fast-paced brutal shit you want firmly in your collection. Black Metal-heads who live and die by the next Mayhem release might also want to hear what real brutality sounds like. This album, and this band, is the shit-ruling shit-kicker masterpiece that you need to hear RIGHT NOW.