Album Review: Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood
One of the facets of Children of Bodom I always liked was their ability to control their own chaos. Their rhythm seemed all over the place, but tied in nicely with intricate guitar solos and keyboards to add that extra flair. To add to all the madness there’s Alexi’s [mostly] unintelligible lyrics which I guess is a good thing because after reading most of the lyrics, I discovered a certain cheese-factor. But, if the words are lost in translation (through growling) who really cares as long as the music shreds right? I wasn’t terribly impressed with their last two albums, Blooddrunk and Relentless, Reckeless Forever. Needless to say, my expectations are low for their latest release, Halo of Blood. But, like most bands I have a fondness for, it’s hard to just stop buying their albums in hopes they regain the fire they used to have and create something…good. Let’s see where Halo of Blood stands.
Of course, they lead-off with Waste of Skin and display their traditional, signature sound. A little guitar fill to start the song and then for the most part, it’s a solid Children of Bodom song, but nothing new and inventive. Halo of Blood was probably the biggest surprise on the album due to its short burst of near Black-metal tempo. I didn’t expect that at all, but I like it. In between those furious, short-lived tempos the song is quite melodic and balanced. Two songs that kind of caught me off track in a different way are Scream for Silence and Transference. I guess the only way to label it is maturity? I am stating that as a question simply because Children of Bodom has been in the business nearly two decades. They missed the maturity bus a while back. Perhaps, let’s just say their natural tendency to be [mostly] chaotic is controlled. These two songs are much slower and sound as if they intentionally tried to not be…heavy, thrashy, and wicked. At this point, today, I like these two songs the most so far.
The album starts off stronger, in my opinion, before it starts its downhill slide to mediocrity. That’s not to say the rest of the songs are bad. I didn’t feel the band pulled any new punches with the remaining songs. Your Days Are Numbered is speedy, while Dead Man’s Hand on You starts off with a talking part. The vocal style in the opening verse reminds me of the style used on Megadeth’s Dawn Patrol. The overall tempo of the song is borderline ballad. Unlike most ballads I am guessing the lyrics are far from sincere…I haven’t read them yet. To cap off my extended version of the album I just have to say very few metal bands can cover Roxette, Sleeping in my Car, and make it sound…pretty cool!
So, where does Halo of Blood Stand? It’s pretty close to a return to form. It starts off strong, but flattens out halfway through. It’s not quite the raw appeal from their earlier albums Hate Crew Deathroll or Hatebreeder. Halo of Blood is definitely the best Bodom output in the last eight years. That might be too non-specific for some people, but that’s where I see Halo of Blood…the best thing since Are You Dead Yet?