Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood
Release Date: Jun 6, 2013 (EU) Jun 11 (NA)
Coming up with a suitable intro for Children of Bodom will always be a tough job for me. I mean there aren’t enough superlatives that would help me express my likeness towards them. I’ve been following them for quite some time now, and after seeing them live last year at The Great Indian Oktober Fest, I’ve been fixed in a trance ever since. But I guess keeping my fanboy lines away from the review would be the best thing to do for me now!
So now, Children of Bodom! A unique thing about them is that they are never repetitive; each song is crafted ingeniously with powerful melodies, heavy riffs and inspired guitar and keyboard solos and has the power to captivate you with its uniqueness. Their albums are never monotonous and each album, heck each song, offers us something totally new. And now they are out with their eighth studio album, Halo of Blood. After a rather average experience which everyone had with their last album, Relentless Reckless Forever, people needed to listen to something powerful and epic from them, something that would kick some crazy arse, and their latest grind offers us something beyond that!
As you must have read in various interviews, the band asserts the album to be their most diverse work to date, which is quite noticeable. The new album offers some really gloomy black metal-ish melodies along with the trademark Bodom upbeat progressions. There are songs with old-school COB sound, and tracks with their newer power-melody based style. Children of Bodom give us possibly their fastest song and definitely their slowest song. All this put together flawlessly under a blanket, so awesomely titled, Halo Of Blood.
Halo Of Blood starts with the impressively tailored, “Waste Of Skin”, which features one of the best melodies coming from Alexi Liaho’s guitar. The song has the adequate amount of heaviness to make you headbang, at the same time giving you an urge to gambol with its catchy melodic chorus. Also featured on the track is a kickass solo by band’s second guitarist Roope Latvala, which is followed by another great solo by Alexi. It’s good to see them come up with splendid one-on-one solos. Before the album moves to its next track, it features one of those audio clips from some random movie; a classic element you’ll hear on almost every Bodom album.
Alexi says “Halo of Blood” is possibly his favorite Bodom song, and so do I. The song is possibly their fastest track and is heavy as hell. It storms with atypical, chaotic black metal tremolo picked guitar harmony, the kind we generally find on a typical Immortal track. The song, especially the intro section creates total mayhem with its chaotic riffs, which are enhanced by the heavy keyboard orchestrations of Janne Wirman and insane blastbeats added by Jaska Raatikainen, who have done an admirable job on the album.
“Scream for Silence” is a treat for melodeath lovers, starting with a harmonized keyboard and guitar melody and progressing with a mid-tempo pace throughout the song with simply awesome melodies, especially in the chorus. The song is one of the few songs on the album to feature a solo by Wirman, which is kinda sad but I’m happy as long as the songs are good. Next up is a very peculiar track on the album, “Transference”. The riffs are pretty eccentrically constructed as they are mostly dark with a bar or two of upbeat segments, which is quite weird. Anyhow, the chorus is pretty catchy and the song certainly is innovative and something very new from the band.
“Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)” – a “Bodom song” at last! For those of you who don’t know, their last album didn’t have one. Why? Because it just slipped out of their minds! Anyway, it is yet another interesting and a great track which features splendid work on keyboards and guitars. The melodies are pretty straightforward and Bodom-ish and the song has great solos by Janne and Alexi, enough for it to qualify as a “Bodom song”.
Next up is “Your Days Are Numbered”, a very diverse track in itself. It fiddles with a lot of black metal elements as well and features some good old Bodom riffs. A highlight of the song is the amazing guitar solo which I’ll add to an already long list of Alexi’s mindblowing shredwork. The solo is built amazingly over the fretboard, with some brilliant sweeps and a nice use of whammy bar.
“Dead Man’s Hand on You” is the song which you must be hearing about as the slowest song Children of Bodom has ever done and to my surprise it is about Ma Kaali (Yes! The Hindu Goddess), an inspiration he got from his old band, Impaled Nazarene. It is very reminiscent of Pain’s “Just Think Again”, on which Alexi played a solo. It features clean guitars, which I last heard on “Red Light in My Eyes, Pt. 1” from their first album, and a grand piano, which sounds pretty cool. You can also hear Alexi giving clean, sort of whispered vocals over the clean progressions. The song is pretty exotic and a nice attempt by the band on going slow.
“Damaged Beyond Repair” is a symphonic piece with pretty thrashy intro and verse riff. The song features a dual chorus, one of which sounds like a typical black metal symphonic section and the other one is pretty much like plain melodic death chorus. Alexi’s vocal performance is pretty notable on this track; his screams sound perfect and despite him losing the heaviness in his voice, he lays his vocal lines pretty nicely.
The last two songs “All Twisted” and “One Bottle and a Knee Deep” are pretty up-front, typical Children of Bodom tracks featuring some marvelous riffs and keyboard melodies. The tone of the keyboards reminds me of their early Follow the Reaper days; in fact the songs do sound quite similar to the Follow the Reaper songs. “One Bottle And A Knee” deep is another “Bodom song” about a guy getting drunk at Lake Bodom and some grave events start to happen.
The production of the album is pretty good. All the instruments were recorded at the band’s rehearsal room, Danger Johnny Studios in Helsinki, except for the drums which were done at Petrax Studios in Hollola. The vocals were produced by the Swedish legend Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain), who was also supposed to look after the keyboards but couldn’t due to lack of time. Anyhow, the tracks possess a nice amount of dynamics and have an awesome sound. The panning of the two guitars is as usual pretty good.
Halo of Blood is something very likable and comparing it to their last release, it is pretty good and innovative. The people searching for their old sound will be quite satisfied, while for others it will possibly be on the list if top three Bodom albums. At the end I would just like to say: Listen to it, you’ll be damned!
Reviewed by: Varun Khatri