CHILDREN OF BODOM have ridden a very strange roller coaster through their career. For a while in the beginning of their life span, the support from the die-hard Metal community was strong. When the band started to deviate from their Power/Death Metal style though, many quickly jumped ship like rats for dry land afraid of the eventual fallout from the gathering Hot Topic crowd.
Even though “Blooddrunk” was a nice return to form for these Finnish maestros, it’s their latest opus “Relentless Reckless Forever” that should have those older fans perking their ears.
BODOM’s seventh full-length studio record is about 80% return to a more flighty Power Metal sound and 20% slight experimentation. Don’t let that last word fool you though, this experimentation is further from the Modern metal touches that graced/cursed “Are You Dead Yet?” In fact, as the guitarist and vocalist Laiho had described prior to its release, “Relentless Reckless Forever” has an almost 80s classic Metal vibe to it with how the riffs and melodies interact. This almost rock like step to the music (call it bounce if you want) gives the album a unique flavor and sound that’s reminiscent of some of the band’s highlights on “Follow The Reaper” and “Hate Crew Deathroll." Although it does tend to lighten the extreme side of the music a bit, it’s a step in a new direction that works here.
Other than some of the band’s slight 80s experimentation, this is BODOM that one started to catch on the last album. They’ve gone back to what works. A combination of layered heavy rhythms punctuated with Laiho’s harsh shouting and flashes of those weaving melodies all over the place. This is a CHILDREN OF BODOM that sounds like they are one step from going into pure shred at most any given time (despite the foundation of stellar rhythms on bass and drums) and it’s this element that was missing for a long time. The keys are brought back to the forefront as one of the main instruments in their musical composition and the leading melodic aspect. Warman’s performance is impeccable. Matched with the dueling guitars and wicked fret noodling of the two guitarists, the bursting from rhythms of rocking swagger into their catchy melodies smacks the listener with what brought them to the band in the first place.
Although the album still falls short of some of their classics overall, “Relentless Reckless Forever” sparks with the intensity of their speed elements and the melodic flourishes that once made this band one of the best to follow. Even the experimentation seems legitimized here and works well with the foundation.
Songs to check out: “Shovel Knockout," “Ugly," “Was It Worth It?"
(Online June 30, 2011)