Somebody Put Something In My Drink (US Bonus Track)
I’ve always liked CHILDREN OF BODOM, just never really liked them. You know, I listen to them occasionally and eventually buy each new album, but I’ve never considered them amongst my favorites. Truth-be-told, I’ve always held COB’s contemporaries (ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW, SKYFIRE, NORTHER, etc.), in higher regard.
With all that in mind, I was in no hurry to get my hands on COB’s newest release, “Are You Dead Yet?” Then I read in a few different places that the instrumental wankery had been toned down a bit and vocalist Alexi Laiho was a bit easier to understand. This news intrigued me, as Janne Warman’s overblown keyboard runs and Alexi’s garbled-beyond-comprehension vocals had always been my biggest peeve when it came to COB’s albums. So I thought, “what the hell,” and went ahead and picked-up “Are You Dead Yet?”
First things first, this is still CHILDREN OF BODOM, 100%. There are still keyboard runs and solos, just not quite as many. Warman’s keyboards have taken a slightly more backing role this time around. Laiho’s vocals are still garbled, but he seems to be making an effort to be a bit more understandable. The guitar work from Laiho and new axeman Roope Latvala (ex-Sinergy, among several others) is great, as usual on a COB release. Although, there aren’t as many leads or solos as on past releases. Bass player Henkka T. Blacksmith has taken a more prominent role on “Are You Dead Yet?”, standing out more than in the past. And Jaska W. Raatikainen’s drumming is good, as always. Regardless of one’s opinion of COB’s music, their instrumental skills are inarguable.
On “Are You Dead Yet?”, CHILDREN OF BODOM has finally written a full album of songs, not just four-minute vehicles for solos, held together by loose verses and choruses. I’d always kind of thought of COB as nothing more than a means for Laiho and Warmen to show off and they did so unabashedly. While this was always impressive, the songs always suffered. Not anymore.
“Living Dead Beat” starts with keyboard melody and is soon joined by the rest of the band with crunchy, rhythmic beat. This album sees a lot more of the chugging rhythmic-style guitar playing, which might scare many away. But fear not, at the mark the first guitar solo rips-in and all is well. “Are You Dead Yet” speeds things up just a bit in the beginning, but settles into a groove after a short time. With a very catchy chorus, this is one of my favourite tracks. “If You Want Peace…Prepare For War” is and absolute stomper, very bass heavy and the heaviest song on the album. “In Your Face” is my personal favorite, as it has a pissed of swagger to it that makes me want to pump my fist in the air. “Trashed, Lost & Strungout” is the albums first single and sounds like a song from COB’s last release, “Hate Crew Deathroll”. To finish off my copy (the USA version), is a cover of the RAMONES’ classic, “Somebody Put Something In My Drink.” COB adds its own twist, but never loses the spirit of the original, making for some great fun.
Now for the downside of “Are You Dead Yet?” Some of the songs (“Punch Me I Bleed” and “Bastards Of Bodom”), aren’t quite on the same level as the others. I’ve also read at various forums that a whole lot of people dislike the production, but I think it sounds very good. Mikko Karmila, who has worked with the likes of STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA, THERION and LULLACRY in the past, handled the production duties. All the instruments are clear, full and heavy. So, you may or may not be happy with the production value on “Are You Dead Yet?”
So, the final verdict on “Are You Dead Yet?” I like it. No, I really like it. It probably won’t end up in my year-end top 10 list, but it’s very good nonetheless. And to top it all off, “Are You Dead Yet?” is my now my favorite CHILDREN OF BODOM album. (Online January 12, 2006)