By Carl Begai
Word of a new Children Of Bodom album on the horizon always seems to be accompanied by a chorus of bitching and moaning from the fans as they hope and pray for a return to the band’s Hatebreeder / Follow The Reaper heyday. The build-up to Halo Of Blood is no different, and having attended a listening session for the record on March 16th courtesy of Nuclear Blast, I can tell you that Halo Of Blood isn’t the full-on back-to-the-roots album you’d sell your siblings’ internal organs for.
It is, however, the best damn thing Children Of Bodom have released since Hate Crew Deathroll in 2003.
First time through, chances are most fans will end up somewhere between relieved and perplexed at hearing trademark Bodom-isms from the early years back-to-back with numerous WTF moments. It’s bloody overwhelming at times trying to process how the band has re-invented themselves when you look back on Are You Dead Yet?, Blooddrunk and Relentless Reckless Forever; the three records that polarized and/or pissed off the COB fanbase. Lead-off track ‘Waste Of Skin’ is a solid indication of something old school in the works on Halo Of Blood, with ‘Scream For Silence’, ‘Bodom Blue Moon’, ‘One Bottle And A Kneep Deep’ and the future live show fan favourite ‘All Twisted’ (think ‘Hate Me!’) also slamming people into that good ol’ days comfort zone. That said, the tracks aren’t one-to-one predictable, even if the riff / solo / keyboard attacks are familiar.
Hats off to the band for pulling off the ‘Damaged Beyond Repair’, which seemingly mashes the best parts of Hate Crew Deathroll and Follow The Reaper together to create a masterclass of the almighty Bodom riff.
Halo Of Blood’s biggest surprises – other than FINALLY having album cover art worth looking at, wearing, or taping to the bedroom wall – are the bordering-on-black-metal title track and the plodding doom-heavy ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’. The songs are completely different from one another and everything else on the record, yet they aren’t even a little out of place. Drummer Jaska Raatikainen is the backbone of ‘Halo Of Blood’, serving up blastbeats (which he reportedly hadn’t done in years) in top-notch black metal form, making it the heaviest Children Of Bodom song to date. In complete in-your-face contrast, ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’ is a dark-hearted “ballad” that opens with clean guitars and grand piano, featuring frontman Alexi Laiho offering up spoken word verses before returning to his trademark hellmouth delivery. Funny how, for all the talk of wanting an old school Bodom record, the majority of fans are going to come back to these two tracks because they stick out like a death metal band at a casting for Glee.
Halo Of Blood is a huge surprise, easily the most impressive and exciting batch of music Children Of Bodom have served up in a decade.
And no, that’s not the alcohol talking…
Halo Of Blood tracklisting:
‘Waste Of Skin’
‘Halo Of Blood’
‘Scream For Silence’
‘Bodom Blue Moon’
‘The Days Are Numbered’
‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’
‘Damaged Beyond Repair’
‘One Bottle And A Knee Deep’
Release date: June 7th, 2013
Watch for exclusive interviews with Janne Wirman (keyboards), Jaska Raatikainen (drums) and Alex Laiho (vocals/guitars) coming to BW&BK soon.
Photo by Jarmo Katila (www.jarmokatila.fi)