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The most classical Bodom effort - 89%

TrooperEd, March 27th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2008, CD, Spinefarm Records (Limited edition, Enhanced, Reissue)

What Something Wild unleashed upon the metal scene that fateful 1997 day is something practically impossible to get away with, even then: a practically unclassifiable quality metal release. On first glance one would want to classify this as power metal, but the super abrasive vocals would get them thrown out from the Iron Maiden fanclub president with bells on. Others might want to classify this as thrash, and one could, but they'd be neglecting elements found here that one just doesn't see in thrash. Some might wish to classify this as melodic death metal, which is incorrect by virtue of the fact that its good. Some might also want to classify this as symphonic black metal, which is also incorrect because again, its good. Not to mention there aren't really odes to the underworld nor the over-world Gods to be found here lyrically. Matter of fact, the lyrics seem incidental and more conjured up as a necessary evil, with the understanding that instrumental bands don't become rockstars. Well I have zero issue with that as 1997 was a year where the music world was still recovering from an era where the term "rock star" was seen as a dirty word by hipster tampon paper, but I digress.

The best way I can describe Children of Bodom's modus operandi is that of a master of Zui Quan, also known as a martial art drunken boxing. Sure, the supposed victim may look like a sloppy drunk, but each strike and blow they land are deadly and precise. I would make an additional reach with this correlation with a link to the drunken Eight Immortals, but there are only five members and seven tracks here (no I'm not counting the versions where there's an extra track featuring the band's namesake song. That's a Hatebreeder song, deal with it). In the case of Alexi and pals, the fighters are likely beyond drunk and fishing for more, which makes the technical and virtuoso accomplishments on this album even more impressive. Which isn't to say Something Wild is progressive, as the bass and drums stick to relatively simple 4/4 beats, albeit at varying thrash speeds with even some blast-beats thrown in. An album can't really be progressive metal without an adventurous rhythm section. But yes, the technique is in the melody instruments, and one doesn't need to be an expert on intonation and tremolo picking to see Alexi Laiho and Janne Warman have a bright future ahead of them.

This album has a weird sense of amorphous slapdash construction. In a world where everyone likes to throw the names of Bach and Beethoven around like he was in their Chevy pickup truck when they decided to form a band with the chick from art class, Alexi took the compositional form of orchestra music and applied it directly to metal songwriting. Well, songwriting might be a tad charitable in the case of Something Wild. These tracks are less songs and more symphonic movements. The Nail is a perfect demonstration of this, unfolding almost like a Farewell through Moving Pictures Rush epic. There is some cohesion and recurring motifs within the songs to provide a musical compass for the listener, but sometimes it's easy to forget which part of Red Light In My Eyes you're on.

Highlights: I don't want this entire review to be about The Nail, but fucking A, I love the Nail. The most underrated song in Children of Bodom's history. The delightfully inappropriate mixture of Ben Hur over the intro to Nightmare on Elm Street perfectly sets the tone for the organized chaos this epic encapsulates. The swinging Pull The Plug like breakdown around 3:38 is nothing less than mind spraining, and it giving way to final salvo of Victim of Fate paced shredding madness is testament to the staying power and versatility of Judas Priest style heavy metal. The album's other highlights are Deadnight Warrior, the other slightly less interesting epic In The Shadows, and Lake Bodom, which for being written by a band who are a little rough around the edges with songwriting chops, turns out to be one of the catchiest songs in metal history. Sure that opening lick may be speedy and busy, but you damn sure are going to remember that shit.

Originality combined with quality were a rather hard thing to come by in metal in 1997, but the Finnish wunderkinds pull it off with such style and grace, despite being more wasted than the Bay Area thrash scene at Cliff Burton's funeral. If you're the kind of metalhead who hates harsh vocals, this won't exactly convince you, but this is one of the very few times I would urge you dear reader, to simply look past the vocals as a rhythmic instrument and experience the true melodies Something Wild has to offer.