I prefer my reviews to be serious and informative. ‘First Impressions’ allow for a more director’s commentary approach. I can be silly and talk bollox, or make points that only a handful of people will understand. Usually I will deliver insights into my history with similar music as well as into how my mind works and how both of these things change over time. You will have to either possess a fairly detailed understanding of Rock and Metal history and Subgenre conventions or have a second tab open at Wikipedia to fully follow every single point that I make, but don’t let that put you off…I’m not honestly expecting you to know every single riff or tone I’ll point out off by heart.
I’m never very sure about how to transition from that preamble to the actual content so I’ll just blurt right into this time and see who dies complaining.
Ok. Blog commence: I went into HMV today and picked up this album alongside ‘Hatebreeder’ on a two-for-£10 deal. I had spent the day traveling convoluted routes and getting lost for important life, but not blog-appropriate, reasons. These two albums were bought as a sort of cheer up affair.
I don’t really know why other than that they were there. I saw them when I picked up the Black Label Society albums and remembered them. I saw them again last week. I guess its just because I knew I could write a blog about it, and the artwork was striking. I’ve never really heard any Children Of Bodom before, save maybe one or two music videos I can’t remember (if I even did) and hearing a few seconds in an acquaintance’s headphone’s in my hometown’s graveyard when I was a teenager.
I don’t even like the genre. I’ve talked about Melodeath before in my first ever first impressions article. It wasn’t one of the genres (Thrash/ Prog/Metalcore Stoner/Classic Rock) I had a big phase of fanship for, I don’t like many of the key features of the genre, and generally, Bodom are a bit of an odd choice for me to pick up on a whim.
What do I even know about them? Not much to be honest. They’re European. (Not sure of anything more specific than that off by heart. Their mascot (I love mascots; Eddie, Snaggletooth, Rattlehead, Knucklehead, BLS’s Skull, The Grand Astoria’s Cow Skull Mascott etc, That Lion from a band I always saw advertised in Metal Hammer but can’t remember the name of…) is the Grim Reaper, they have a guitarist called Alexi Laiho who keeps winning awards for shredding and their new albums have been slower than usual. (Sounds a bit like Black Label Society’s History)
Ok, I read the linear notes and the Wikipedia article real quick. Finland, in case you were wondering. Also, there’s a big neo-classical influence apparently, and they started off with roots in Black Metal of all things.
Just as I have the CD ripped and transferred to my preferred listening medium of choice, I notice that it is time to go to bed. I have to get up at 4.45 for what is essentially my first day at a new job. Being responsible, I put this on hold…
[image of a moon raising and falling over the cityscape, followed by the sunrise]
Ok. I’m back, I’ve worked, I’ve cooked and ate dinner and am back in the position I was in when I started this entry yesterday. Same EXCEPT that I’m in fact on a train. Are you on a train? Feel free t illuminate me in the comments section. Also, if we’re together in the dark, feel free to literally illuminate me. UNLESS we’re deliberately in the dark to hide from danger… then keep that shit till less challenging times. There’s a fucking murder on the loose!
Anyway, after watching an angry woman getting bumped into by the drinks trolley, I stick the album on and am greeted to the album opener ‘Needled 24/7’ which could’ve been anything for all I knew, but turned out to be a really enjoyable, fast-paced mixture of what essentially sounds like Gamma Ray (which is good news, if you’ve been following this in the last few months) with Devil Driver (everyone does say the started incorporating Melodeath influences after the second album, so its not that ludicrous a notion).
There’s some keyboards, and very, very precise lead guitar work in that way that brings to mind videogames (think Dragon Force or Dream Theater; perhaps it’s a sweep picking thing?). While those sort of things would have put me off a band in previous years, I find them strangely endearing in this case.
Then comes ‘Sixpounder’ – a song about cannons, and disappointingly not about Finland’s best cheeseburger. Although if it actually was, it would be a terrible decision, I don’t really like comedy in metal. I know, snob right?
Out of all the Melodeath singers that I’ve ever heard, this is the first that hasn’t been a bit too harsh for me. Equally, they have the best guitar tone I’ve heard on any Melodeath record that I’ve heard so far. It is hard hitting and Thrashy like a Dukes-era Exodus album, but not overly-harsh and brittle sounding. I think a lot of the At The Gates stuff was just a bit too savage and extreme for my Palate, and Arch Enemy just use all the wrong sorts of notes for my personal preferences. Children Of Bodom hammer on in a way that’s much more like Annihilator’s first two albums, only with a bit of Helloween cheese thrown in, which adds character in this case, where if implemented in almost any other way would just detract. They’re not orange. That’s how they get away with it. Get away with it. Because it was a crime. Good one, me.
I recently saw a concert with three Folk-Metal bands, and I thought that one would’ve been great if they didn’t have Folk-influences. That’s how I feel about a lot of European music. Its not rational or for any particular reason, but I feel they’d be better if they lost their main defining characteristic. In the case of Bodom however, it fits. I wouldn’t rather they just played Thrash.
Semi-annoyingly, my rip has ‘broken’ in that the song stops early, plays a bit from earlier again, and then ends abruptly. It had did this to me on other albums in the last few months, including Monster Magnet’s Superjudge (spoiling the end of the best Monster Magnet song, ‘Black Baloon’) as well as Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia. I don’t actually know where the process of corruption happens. At the ripping stage, or when it gets transferred over to iPod. Perhaps its at the ‘create MP3 version’ stage where I try and make sure my personalized meta-data gets permanently stuck to the song, so I don’t have to re-do it every time an iPod dies or iTunes gets updated, like I used to a few years ago.
‘Bodom Beach Terror’ reminds me of ‘Wicked Mystic’ by Annihilatorin the opening riff, and for the first time, reminds me a little of Arch Enemy in the pre-chorus, as well as, bizarrely, H.I.M, in the chorus. Its an interesting mix but it works. The solo in this song is very videogamey. More so than anything on the record so far.
Next up is the slower ‘Angels Don’t Kill’ which features a Zack/Dime-esque riff in the chorus, a lot more clean melody and a little lead line that reminds me of Iron Maiden’s ‘Mother Russia.’ The song is a giant lead guitar show-off from beginning to end. Solos, Solos, Solos. Right up my street. It also manages to get the balance of weight right, so as to feel like a slow, groovy monster as opposed to a whiney ballad.
‘Triple Corse Hammerblow’ follows it up and is the cleanest, least ‘death’ sounding number so far, somewhat surprisingly given its name. It sounds like a Gama Bomb style thrash parody title. This song could comfortably get played on a radio rock show these days without raising to many eyebrows. There’s a clear neoclassical sound to a lot of it, and while you can hear the thrash if you try, its not in your face harsh.
There are sections where the drums double in speed that are great fun too. Look out for those if you listen along to these articles. Which you do. Of course you do. My millions of loyal followers. Why wouldn’t you?
The next track; ‘You’re Better Off Dead’ is really catchy. It seems an obvious choice for single. If you want to get into the band, check it out. Fair Warning: It’s a bit sweary and cheesy, with a musical cut to silence and a vocal ‘Fuck You’ that is guaranteed to make tennagers shout along. It’s the kind of thing you may think you’re better than if you are in a snobby mood. With that chees-ception the track is great and shows off everything the album does, stop start riffs, the thrash riffs, the power-metal riffs and sing alongs, the videogame solos, normal solos, the keys. Everything’s there. Go on, check it out. You win 25 KCP Blog Reward Scheme points if you do. Which can be cashed in for fabulous prizes. Like… a banana with the word “tipex” written on it in tipex, selotaped to a box from a boxset of The Godfather movies. (You need a lot of points to win the actual movies, I’m not made of money)… Or a tipex mouse, sellotaped to a computer mouse, glued to an actual mouse. (You need billions of points for that, I’m not made of mice)
‘Little Blood Red Riding Hood’ is up next, despite its offputting title, its more of the same from last time. Good stuff.
Last up is the title track. The title track really sounds like Exodus. It’s the best thing on the album thus far. The way the guitar lines work at the start of the song are the only instance of the album actually sounding like Death Metal. Admittedly, still the Entombed/Dismember style of Death Metal as opposed to the early 90s Tampa kind (that I always assume is the kind you’re talking about if you bring up Death Metal and which I also uninformedly assume that EVERYONE assumes you’re talking about when you say Death Metal), or the modern kind, that I think may have been renamed either Technical or Brutal Death at some stage, but which I uncharacteristically don’t know the rules about. I know rules on tonnes of subgeneres I don’t even care about, just for my own amusement, but that aint one of them for some reason.
Anyway, the song is catchy as hell and a good song. That’s all you really need to know. It’s a good song.
My edition came with bonus tracks. A Ramones Cover that is fairly enjoyable and surpringly not awful (bonus covers of a vastly different genre are sometimes awful) A Slayer Cover which is also not awful, but this time there’s no element of surprise, because really why would it be awful? Catch yourself on if you thought it would be awful.
Also a live rendition of ‘Needled 24/7’ because, you know, why not? It was the first song so it MAY AS WELL be the last song too. Its not that the song is being greedy or egotistical, just that nobody else was stepping up to the plate, so it took the option when it was there. Step the fuck off ok ? It just happened, ‘Needled 24/7 Live’ isn’t hurting anyone, so let it be and mind your own business. Dick.
Ok. That was the album. It was short. Especially without the bonus tracks. You know what it was though. Very good. A Big Surprise. A Melodeath album (and presumably band) actually to my tastes, perfectly for an entire album, not just a few songs or parts of songs. Well done Bodom. Fan converted. I’m glad I picked up another one of their albums alongside this one now.
Ok, so fair enough it hasn’t started me off on a Melodeath kick. I’m not heading off to pick up Dark Tranquility records, or reassess Arch Enemy and At The Gates albums. Or Carcass’s Heartwork. I mean, I like Amon Amarth quite a lot. This doesn’t really have anything to do with them. It is more like a very heavy Power Metal album than a really melodic Death Metal album. Eitherway, I’d happily pick up more Bodom albums in the future, get their dvd and see them live if I get a reasonable chance, especially now that seeing bands is easier for me in my new location.
Ok. Next edition will be a special Guest-Blog from my very bestest pal, and Blog-inspirer and co-podcaster (/podcast anchor) and genuine* Lord of Salsibury, Magnum Valentino. Look forward to that. Look sideways and backwards to it as well.
OK. As usual I’ll leave you with a ‘if you want me to write a First Impressions article about anything, make a suggestion’ (earn KCP Reward points for doing so – win a photograph of a ceiling tile!) and then say goodbye. Goodbye.
Ok. That wraps it up. Ok. OK?
*Genuine status not genuine.