Finland,Reviews,Melodic Death,Nuclear Blast,Reviews,2015,Children Of Bodom

Genre: Melodic Death
Country: Finland
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year: 2015

I have gotten the honor/challenge to write a first opinion about Children of Bodom’s ninth studio album “I Worship Chaos”. Whoever knows my personal music taste is aware of the fact that it is this outfit from Finland that got me into metal so many years ago. So it is extremely hard not to be biased when writing this review and falling into the trap of over-comparing this new material with COB’s first albums.Especially since I have been extremely disappointed in their studio recordings since “Relentless Reckless Forever” from 2011. We always used to mention Children of Bodom’s albums as ‘the green album’ (Hatebreeder), ‘the blue album’ (Follow The Reaper), and so on for easy reference. I am pretty sure “I Worship Chaos” will go down as ‘the golden album’ with its great cover art of the iconic reaper in a desolate landscape. Does that nickname only refer to the cover of the album or does the quality of the music reaches gold status too? Let’s find out!

First of all, it is important to mention that “I Worship Chaos” is the first record without guitar player Roope Latvalla since 2003 and the release of “Are You Dead Yet?” (2005). He was no part of the recording process so it is the band’s first effort as a quartet. For their live performances the band has used a fitting replacement in the form of Antti Wirman, younger brother of keyboard player Janne. While I think he would be a perfect permanent member, the band has so far stated this will not be the case.

From the very first notes you can hear this is a Bodom album, no doubt about that. “I Hurt” has that thrashy sound that started creeping in their music since ‘Are You Dead Yet?’, but also a catchy riff that definitely sticks in your head. It will be hard to not recognize this one instantly at live shows. Through the lyric video I unfortunately really started to dislike the lyrics of “I Hurt”. While Alexi’s cookie monster growls are instantly recognizable, the mediocrity of the lyrics are disappointing.

“My Bodom (I am the Only One)” would definitely fit on the ‘Are You Dead Yet?’ album and instantly sounds better than anything on the band’s latest albums. The latter part features a classic melodic duel between Alexi’s guitar and Janne’s keyboard. This is so typical COB, just as the reference to Lake Bodom in one of the song titles. “Morrigan” was the first track released and another one with a catchy guitar melody that makes it instantly recognizable. Slower in the verses but with a more up tempo chorus that actually reminds me of “Bodom Beach Terror” of Hate Crew Deathroll (2003).

“Prayer for the Afflicted” knows a slow build up with Janne’s atmospheric key strokes. You instantly recognize this will be the album’s ‘ballad’ as we used to have in the past with “Everytime I Die”, “Angels Don’t Kill”, or “Banned From Heaven”. The long stretched guitar notes and raspy voice of Alexi have always gone hand in hand with the themes of emotional suffering these songs portray. But also later in the track list “All for Nothing” starts softly with a dying whisper in order to evolve into another slow headbanger. Most likely these tracks will provide a break in the otherwise intense live sets of Children of Bodom.

The title track “I Worship Chaos” starts off like songs on ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’ with the synths being ever present in the background during the verses. In the chorus we hear the necessary group shouts. This is the good Bodom I remember. The floor is given over completely to Janne on this one as he gets the lead solo without any interference of the guitar.

Not all the songs are that catchy, though. While “Hold Your Tongue”, “Suicide Bomber” and “Widdershins” are not boring at all they stand out less than other songs. Still, they are of a higher level than anything on ‘Relentless Reckless Forever’. “Horns” on the other hand is easily the most forgettable song on the album. In my opinion Children of Bodom became more thrashier ever since RoopeLatvalla joined the band and they crossed the Atlantic to play big tours in the United States. I always felt like Alexi got heavily influenced by their time spent together with Lamb of God. However, instead finding a decent blend between their highly melodic style of melodeath and thrashier grooves, their music fell towards a chaotic mishmash with ‘Relentless Reckless Forever’ as sad pinnacle. While ‘Halo of Blood’ was a step in a different direction I have the feeling that with ‘I Worship Chaos’ the band has found that blend between their older melodic writings and the more groove-oriented inspirations they drew from travelling the world.

My overall feeling is that this album has something fresh. Unlike the abominable ‘Relentless Reckless Forever’ and ‘okay’ ‘Halo of Blood’, it feels like Children of Bodom returned with renewed inspiration and energy to the studio for ‘I Worship Chaos’. The result is in my opinion their best album in ten years! It will take a few more spins to really get a grasp of some of the songs, but I am actually looking forward to blast this record to the speakers again!

4/6