Dusk at the Metal Ireland mansion.
In the candlelit west wing library, reclining in his red leather armchair, book of 18th century poetry open on his lap, the Earl sips at his goblet of 1998 Petrus Pomerol and purses his lips.
The tranquil twilight is suddenly shattered by the explosive entrance of Alexi Laiho, frontman of Finland’s Children Of Bodom, in typically restrained humour.
“FUCKING HELLO!! I’VE GOT THE FUCKING CRAZY NEW FUCKIN' CHILDREN OF BODOM ALBUM HERE FOR FUCKIN' YOU AND YOUR FUCKING WEBSITE!!”
The Earl idly ponders how Laiho managed to avoid the scorpion pit and indeed the wolfhounds, but no matter.
The inattentive knights on door guard shall be chastised later.
He assures Laiho that, like every piece of music submitted for review, it will be judged on its merits, and indeed faults, if any.
“IT’S GOT FUCKIN' BLOOD IN THE TITLE AND A FUCKIN' GRIM REAPER ON THE FUCKING COVER MAN!! IT'S FUCKING METAL AS FUCK!! GIVE IT TO A FUCKING GOOD REVIEWER TO FUCKIN' REVIEW!! FUCKING BYE!!
And he vanishes as mysteriously as he appeared.
The Earl stares into middle distance. Reviewers….hmmm. Cunningham? Too black metal. Archer? Too doom. Grimes? Too crust. Owens? Too punk.
Ahhh, realises the Earl, a slow smile spreading across his visage, *I* know……
The text arrives on my way back from a lake in Sweden after a pleasant morning of getting sunburned drinking breakfast beers with the UK / Portuguese contingent, merrily perving all the topless metal girls having a swim, all pepped up for another day of the Muskelrock festival.
It’s from our beloved Earl. “Check your Dropbox. Do your best / worst.” And as it turns out, he’s bloody well stung me with the new Children Of Bodom album.
Having checked them out back in the day due to their cool covers, and happening to see them at the Earthshaker fest in 2005, disliking them quite a bit, my heart sinks at this being landed on me.
But you never know, with the new Soilwork getting the album of the month on here, perhaps the new Children Of Bodom will show that the band have similarly improved in the intervening years…
And do you know what? It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard. As much as I was planning to be contrary and give this a semi-faux rave review, it actually is a pretty decent metal album.
Title track ‘Halo Of Blood’ opens with a quote from Twin Peaks that Enforcer used on their “Diamonds” masterpiece, so that automatically scores them cool points, and the interesting guitar interludes remind of classic Cradle Of Filth or even Dissection of all things.
The track is full-on in all the right places, with a Strapping Young Lad style of intense ferocity, the way Townsend never once relented throughout ‘Detox’.
‘Scream For Silence’ harks back to when In Flames were a decent band, the Big Stand Out Chorus really coming to the front, backed up by fast paced music that never descends into Dragonforce style wankery – each guitar line is clear and easy to follow, despite the high tempo.
‘Bodom Blue Moon’ follows this template, but adds backing vocals lifted straight from a more sleazy rock band like Hardcore Superstar or Backyard Babies.
This is probably where the album shines most for me – it’s not just a straight rehash of the stuff they did before, there’s several different underlying styles here and it really breaks the album up nicely.
Where “Halo Of Blood” sometimes falls flat though is the few parts where Laiho’s vocals get a bit samey, that screamy roar can sometimes bore, but every time the song in question is rescued by a stellar guitar line that lifts the track back on well, track again.
What we have here is a rather excellent example of modern melodeath, surprisingly light on the keyboards and satisfyingly heavy on the metallic aspect of it.
Who’d have thought it?
Children Of Bodom on MetalIreland with an actual good album, an actual positive review, and it’s thoroughly deserved. Earl Grey, you can come back up from the dungeons now – Laiho won’t be back for another couple of years. Try the portcullis and moat approach next time.
3.8 / 5 – Dónal Fucking McBrien ::: 10/06/13