A Children of Bodom release used to be something to get excited about. Their heavy hitting synth-laden sound, led by Alexi Laiho’s acrobatic guitar work and raspy bark, rightfully earned them a loyal following with the release of albums like Hatebreeder and Follow the Reaper. Having tasted international success, the band embarked on a relentless touring schedule in support of their releases since Hate Crew Deathroll, growing their legions of fans in every corner of the United States. After opening for Slayer in 2008 on their Unholy Alliance tour and developing a thrashier sound that relies more and more on Laiho simply shredding the night away as opposed to songwriting (Are You Dead Yet? and Blooddrunk are contemptible, with an exception or two on each), many fans have sadly had to admit that Children of Bodom had gone the way of Ozzfest and Hot Topic.
Relentless, Reckless Forever is a step towards redemption. While it won’t get the bad taste of Blooddrunk out of your mouth, there are inklings of actual songwriting going on here. The hammering thrasher film-style keyboards that on recent albums have turned into a sort of sideshow distraction, the kind of thing that might get a sunburnt thirteen year-old to traverse a dusty parking lot at Ozzfest to see where that cool noise was coming from, have been reigned in to compliment the compositions better, though not as well as on, say, Follow the Reaper. Laiho has toned down the “redneck rock” element that reared its head on Blooddrunk and has even made it enjoyable on “Cry of the Nihilist.” His guitar playing, which he has never been faulted for, is typically Laiho and is perhaps at its best since Hate Crew Deathroll, seamlessly switching between crunching riffs, sweeping arpeggios, and blistering solos that occasionally take some contemplating to wrap your head around. However, no new Children of Bodom album would be complete without some sort of letdown and cheese factor, which on the latest release comes in the form of the single off the album “Was It Worth It,” complete with a terrible video featuring the band playing in the middle of a goddamn halfpipe while skaters bust out kickflips and all kinds of other tricks around and above the band. Since when did Children of Bodom have any sort of skater vibe going on? Oh, right, never.
Which brings me to my last, and biggest grievance: this whole “silliness” thing has to go. Children of Bodom, you used to be cool, what the hell happened? Would the same Children of Bodom that wrote “Deadnight Warrior,” the blazing ripper that introduced Children of Bodom and eighteen year-old guitar wizard Alexi Laiho to the world, write songs like “Shovel Knockout,” “Pussyfoot Miss Suicide,” and “Northpole Throwdown,” songs that put the band with the likes of, and I already regret typing this, Slipknot? Just stop it, it’s not funny, it’s stupid. The same, predictably, goes for the lyrics. Laiho’s repeated claims of “I don’t give a fuck,” on several songs over the years were certainly confirmed with Are You Dead Yet? and Blooddrunk and illustrates the problem: he should give a fuck. Perhaps Relentless, Reckless Forever is a sign he does care, at least a little
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first rate disco pop
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Matt’s re-imagining of The Beatles 1965
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