CHILDREN OF BODOM

"Skeletons in the Closet" (Spinefarm Records; 2009)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Cover songs are tricky business. Choices are tough as the band doing the cover has to decide whether or not to stick to the original or mix things up. What makes “Skeletons in the Closet” an interesting listen is that Children of Bodom chooses a wide variety of artists to cover as well as sticking to their unique sound to make the covers stand apart from the originals.

Artists covered range from the usual suspects (Slayer, Sepultura, King Diamond), inspired choices (Billy Idol, Scorpions, Pat Benatar), and the not-so-usual suspects (Britney Spears, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition). For the most part the tracks sound like they were quickly rehearsed and recorded without being totally tossed off as one-take dismissals of having too little time in the studio to perfect each song. Regardless, Children of Bodom manages to merge their high-energy style with a knowing, collective smirk.

The bottom line is that this disc is for the band’s biggest fans or those with a solid penchant for cover songs.

The liner notes, while brief, offer keen insights to why the songs were chosen for inclusion on previous band releases or this compilation. Alexi Laiho has a sense of humor – the liner notes make this all to clear if the song choices weren’t enough of a clue.

There are three versions of the “Skeletons in the Closet” (North American, European, and Japan). All three versions are substantively similar, but the Japanese version features fewer songs. The vast majority of these songs were previously released on singles and the like. However, this compiled version makes it easier for fans of the band to have all the songs in the same place.

“Skeletons in the Closet” was compiled by Alexi Laiho.

Children of Bodom is Alexi Laiho on lead guitar and lead vocals, Roope Latvala on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Janne Warman on keyboards, Henkka Blacksmith on bass and backing vocals, and Jaska Raatikainen on drums. Former guitarist Alexander Kuoppala plays rhythm guitar on those tracks recorded between 1997 and 2003.

For more information visit http://www.cobhc.com/.

"Blooddrunk" (Spinefarm Records; 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

Have you ever had a mustard and strawberry jelly sandwich? No? Me either. That would be an example of something in which I like the parts individually, but I am not thrilled about combining the two. 

Now, "Blooddrunk" isn't quite as unappetizing as that sandwich, but there are similarities. The band plays parts that are solid individually, but those parts don't really fit together that well. There's a difference between sounding diverse and sounding odd and there can be a thin line between the two. Children of Bodom kind of flip-flop between being pleasantly diverse and being not so pleasingly odd. They are elements of death, thrash and progressive metal here and the blending is minimal. The parts seems to be more separate than parts of a whole and that's just not as effective. 

There are definitely more thrash parts on this effort than I was expecting which good, but the death and progressive parts, although decently played, were often scattered in how they were arranged. I like the energy and the band wastes no time in charging at the material with great confidence, but "Blooddrunk" just comes across as being more awkward than I was hoping for. It's almost as if the band was trying so hard to do so many things that the end product suffers because it just doesn't feel like it's quite complete.

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

"Blooddrunk" (Spinefarm Records; 2008)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I'm with Metal Mark on this one. I cued up Children of Bodom's "Blooddrunk" and then had to check to make sure I didn't have iTunes and their MySpace page open at the same time. To be fair to Children Of Bodom, I listened all the way through and, even though they do stomp out a mean song in about four minutes, the opening track "Hellhounds On My Trail" had me wondering what was going on.  

The brutal guitar and heart-stopping drums didn't dance well with each other. I also thought I was hearing a Dream Theater demo mixed in at times. Even if you heard a thirty second snippet of each song it wouldn't be anywhere near what the rest of the song sounded like. The thrash parts are misplaced and when they come stumbling in you lose focus on the previous line of music.

 

Overall the music is really good when it stays in the same tapped vein, I might have to shelve this one and come back to it because it's either ahead of its time or it's going to be lost on me. I was hoping the rest of the disc would settle down but it's pretty much the same from track to track.

 

Separately the guitar is progressive and the solos are blisteringly fast; the drums keep good time despite all the style changes and the "Grrrrrr" from Alexi gets a little old after awhile but I understand he wanted to sound a little more aggressive on this disc and he did just that with this death metal melodic offering.  

 

Children Of Bodom: Alexi Laiho –  lead guitar, lead vocals; Roope Latvala – rhythm guitar, backing vocals; Janne Warman – keyboards; Henkka Blacksmith – bass, backing vocals; Jaska Raatikainen – drums.

 

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

"Are You Dead Yet?" (Spinefarm Records; 2005)

Reviewed by Snidermann

"Are You Dead Yet?" is an explosive heavy metal experience that I enjoyed from the first track right up until I turned it off about two hours ago. When I first got this CD about a week ago, I immediately spun it and the next thing I knew, the CD was over and I was listening to the band covering Ramones classic "Somebody Put Something In My Drink."

The music just soared from my iPod and I found myself singing the songs throughout my day and that, my friends, is a good phenomenon in music.

This Finnish band kicks major metal ass on this recording and I think I may have to listen to the entire CD before I go to bed tonight - nothing like good metal music to get ready for bed ... uh, well, on second thought, I may have to wait till the AM to crack this baby open again. It's like musical caffeine.

High quality, thunderous metal that is easy to listen to with catchy lyrics and great overall presentation makes this CD a gem.

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

"You're Better off Dead!" (Spinefarm Records; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

“You’re Better Off Dead!” was the first single from Children Of Bodom's full-length “Hate Crew Deathroll.” “You’re Better Off Dead!” contains all the classic elements of Children Of Bodom – aggressive guitars, blazing melodies, and intricate rhythm work – yet contains some new elements as well such as backing vocals and chunkier riffs. Anticipating a new Children Of Bodom release is difficult enough – hearing this single before the full-length was released made the anticipation even greater.

A rousing cover of Ramones’ “Somebody Put Something In My Drink” is included; it is very interesting to hear Children Of Bodom tackle a punk song. Fans of Children Of Bodom should take note that I’ve heard that the band also covered a Slayer song during the “Hate Crew Deathroll” recording sessions, but I’ll bet that’ll a Japan-only release.

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

"Tokyo Warhearts" (Spinefarm Records; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Tokyo Warhearts" features the best tracks from a two-concert set recorded in July 1999 at Club Cita in Tokyo, Japan. It goes without saying that this live disc doesn't feature any material from the band's third CD, "Follow The Reaper." However, a good cross-section of the band's material from their debut "Something Wild" and sophomore effort "Hatebreeder" are chosen for the band's set list.

The immediate impression gained from even a cursory listen to "Tokyo Warhearts" is that Children Of Bodom are as good in the live setting as they are in the studio. But therein lies the album's downfall – the live versions are so close to the originals that it seems hardly necessary to add them to your collection. To some extent, many of the band's songs sound similar to each other (especially to the uninitiated) and that problem is somewhat exacerbated on "Tokyo Warhearts." Fortunately, frontman Alexi Laiho keeps his chatter between songs brief – all the better to serve the band's relentless approach.

But not all is lost. A brief guitar/keyboard ‘battle' in a separate cut titled "War Of Razors" is about the only thing that is ‘new' in "Tokyo Warhearts."

Children Of Bodom's already extremely energetic sound and style gets an auditory boost from the performances. The typical crowd noise and stage banter aside, the best feature of "Tokyo Warhearts" is the beefed up sound in the band's lower registers including the rhythm section.

At the very least "Tokyo Warhearts" is yet another solid example of the fanatical following that the Japanese have for all things metal.

Fans of Children Of Bodom must add "Tokyo Warhearts" to their collections immediately; casual fans of the band should stick to their studio efforts.

Children Of Bodom: Alexi Laiho on vocals and guitars, Alexander Kuoppala on guitars, Henka Blacksmith on bass, Janne Warman on keyboards, and Jaska Raalikainen on drums.

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

"Follow the Reaper" (Nuclear Blast; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Is there a more exciting moment in music when you know something is actually going to meet or exceed your expectations? Such a moment for me occurred when the long awaited Children Of Bodom hit my desk. Alexi "Wild Child" Laiho had been hyping "Follow The Reaper" as having the raw energy and fury of "Something Wild" yet blending in the controlled precision of "Hatebreeder." And wouldn't you know it, he's right. For once an artist is hyping his own record without blowing smoke up anyone's ass. 

There's nothing radically different here than we've already heard on "Something Wild" or "Hatebreeder" although one might say "Follow The Reaper" is bit more polished than its predecessors. "Follow The Reaper" is a near-perfect blend of speedy guitars, scorching leads, aggressive keyboards, razor-sharp melodies, and passionate performances.

Highlights include "Children Of Decadence," "Taste Of My Scythe," and "Everytime I Die." On all the tracks, however, the rhythm section never overplays and often when the band slows the tempos down (relatively speaking, of course) the music is forever moving forward and searing its melodies into your brain. If your audio system is looking for high volume abuse look no further than Children Of Bodom's "Follow The Reaper" to shred your speakers.

People are always complaining when I play "Follow The Reaper" (at least I think they're complaining as I've usually got Children Of Bodom's music up too loud to hear them properly), but I don't care! Hail, Children Of Bodom!

Collectors take note: the American and German versions of "Follow The Reaper" have a cover of W.A.S.P.'s "Hellion," the Japanese version has a cover of Ozzy's "Shot In The Dark," and the Finnish version has a cover of Scorpions' "Don't Stop At The Top."

"Follow The Reaper" was produced by Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) at the world-renowned Abyss Studios. 

Children Of Bodom is Alexi Laiho on vocals and lead guitar, Alexander Kuoppala on guitar, Henkka T. Blacksmith on bass, Janne Wirman Pimeys on keyboards, and Jaska Raatikainen on drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

"Hatebreeder" (Nuclear Blast/Spinefarm Records; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

As if I needed more proof that the best metal is coming out of Scandinavia, Children Of Bodom's sophomore effort "Hatebreeder" is a smashing reminder of the neo-classical movement in heavy metal. Hailing from Finland, Children Of Bodom take their name as tribute to the young children who lost their lives in one of the most heinous unsolved mass murders in history at Lake Bodom.

The genre of melodic black/death metal is booming and Children Of Bodom are yet another band who have taken that formula, added classic heavy metal influences, and created their own distinctive style. "Hatebreeder" follows in the footsteps of their debut "Something Wild" by combining death metal and black metal in a potent mélange of disciplined melodic fury. Children Of Bodom owe a great debt to all of the styles of heavy metal that have preceded them, yet their music still defies categorization. An obvious comparison could be made to Norway's Covenant, but that would be simplifying things too much. One could also imagine industrial strength Yngwie J. Malmsteen, but that would be unfair to Children Of Bodom. The confidence and enthusiasm of Children Of Bodom takes melodic black/death metal through uncharted waters.

Children Of Bodom focus their energies on their musical talents and craft ornate musical passages that rely heavily on the interplay of their dual guitar attack and classically-tinged keyboards. The music alternates between hyper-speed riffing and lush passages; all of this occurs with neither being too overwhelming or too abbreviated. Although I normally despise the employment of double-time drums, Children Of Bodom have created deft motion and tension with the use of speedy drumming in conjunction with quick unison guitar/keyboard runs and nimble shifts in meter.

The vocal style fits squarely in the death metal mold, without being too guttural, and at a higher pitch and faster pace than most bands of the genre which is a welcome relief. The band provides shouted backup vocals on a number of tracks providing variety and contrast. Kimberly Goss (of Sinergy fame) also contributes her beautiful voice on a couple of songs. The lyrics gravitate toward fantasy subject matter.

Although each track is rock solid and is well constructed there are a few highlights worth mentioning: the impassioned "Silent Night, Bodom Night," the theatrical "Downfall," the thrash-laden "Black Widow," as well as the blistering title track. Showing the world that Children Of Bodom are willing to take chances the title track contains harp and harpsichord which add to the disc's depth. The best tracks find a subtle balance between aggressive guitars, blazing keyboard runs, terse and dynamic soloing, as well as groove oriented riffing.

Children Of Bodom are Alexi Laiho on vocals and lead guitar, Alexander Kuoppala on guitar, Henkka T. Blacksmith on bass, Janne Wirman Pimeys on keyboards, and Jaska Raatikainen on drums. Alexi Laiho is the undisputed leader of Children Of Bodom; as chief songwriter, lyricist, and lead guitarist Laiho has a lot of responsibilities and he doesn't disappoint (the multitalented Laiho also works with Thy Serpent, Sinergy, and Impaled Nazerene). The rest of the band performs with vigor and purpose; the band is proficient at carrying out the complex arrangements of the songs.

Musical production was provided by Ansii Kippo, mixing was provided by Mikko Karmila. Everything on the disc is superbly produced and mixed well as all instruments and vocals are equally balanced in the overall sound.

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

"Something Wild" (Nuclear Blast; 1997)

Reviewed by TBJ

Many people often have a need to categorize everything, especially music. It helps us identify with certain bands and to give them a listen. On the other hand, sometimes it can make us narrow-minded, thus losing the chance to experience good or even great bands in genres we might not be too aware or fond of. Take for example, Children of Bodom. Sure, many people call them "Black Metal." But, before all you black metal haters shrug them off, there's more than meets the eye here.

Sure, Children of Bodom employ black metal influences, more so on the vocals than anything else, but what we really have here is a band who merges various sounds and textures into a style that could only be called their own. Like labelmates Dark Tranquility and In Flames, COB employs harmonies, melodies and impressive skill. COB are more full-on metal than the aforementioned bands. Think of them as a less gothic (and catchier) Cradle of Filth with less screechy vocals or a perhaps a death/black metal version of Yngwie Malmsteen!

"Something Wild" provides us with enough head-banging fare to satisfy our metal appetite; complex musicality and not-so-clichéd lyrical content. Album highlights include "Deadnight Warrior" (for which they had a video) and both parts of "Red Light in my Eyes."

It seems this band is going the right way with perhaps a more melodic and/or catchy direction being their path to success.

COB are: Henkka Blacksmith - bass; Jaska Raatikainen - drums; Janne Wirman - keyboard; Alexander Kuoppala - guitar; Alexi Laiho - vocals, guitar.

For more information, check out http://www.cobhc.com/  or http://www.myspace.com/childrenofbodom.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to RoughEdge.com Home

Copyright © 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 14 Sep 2017 02:01:05 -0400.