Review : Children of Bodom - Relentless, Reckless Forever
PopmattersMr. Reaper looks more and more absurd with each passing Children of Bodom album cover. On the last album, he didn’t even show his face, just his stupid scythe and what looked like spilled red wine. Either he’s an increasingly shy guy, or he’s an imposter. Yeah, that explains it. No wonder the scheming bastard looks like a scarecrow carrying a pickaxe on this cover. Holy… he/it sold the iconic scythe for a pickaxe. Talk about bad acting and having a death wish.
While Children of Bodom’s iconic mascot might be suffering from a case of AWOL/schizophrenia, the band themselves have come back stronger than ever. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I just did. I lost a bit of interest in these Finnish metal stars ever since Are You Dead Yet? when their sound took a turn for the worse by becoming more thrashy, as it lacked the powerful and uplifting guitar melodies Alexi Laiho was so well known for on Follow the Reaper and before, something which became a trademark of Children of Bodom later on. Hate Crew Deathroll, which comes right after Follow the Reaper, wasn’t as bad as Are You Dead Yet?, but it wasn’t as good as Follow the Reaper either. It was the stepping stone to a future which, at that point in time, was capable of leaning towards either the thrashier route or the more melodic path, and it unfortunately ended with the former taking place.
This is why it is so heartwarming and pleasantly surprising to hear that the band have harkened back to their older days on this latest record, for previously lost hope is shimmering into existence again and faith in the band’s quality of musicianship is renewed as well. That said, this is probably the most accessible CoB record to date, for much of the raw ferocity of the melodies heard during the old CoB days is gone and is increasingly being replaced by a kind of tameness only mainstream success can bring to any music act. This degree of pop sensibility can be detrimental to the expectations of long-time CoB fanatics, since many pop metal acts are usually considered as bands who have “lost their edge” and “aren’t metal anymore”, but well… at least Laiho have not resorted to clean singing yet. As outstanding as this record is musically, there are no outstanding tracks simply because of how outstanding each individual track is on its own, resulting in the kind of record you can never cherry-pick candidates for your “Metal Songs to Sleep to on the Bus/Train” iPod playlist from (although “Pussyfoot Miss Suicide” stands out to me because of its, erm, attention-grabbing title). Nonetheless, it still bodes well for Finland’s solid reputation as one of the best metal countries in this world....full text
AngrymetalguyChildren of Bodom. I think the last time I cared about a Children of Bodom release was when I heard the very disappointing Follow the Reaper which followed what was absolutely in my top 5 for 1999 the venerable Hatebreeder. Oh man, I not only loved the shit out of that record, I even saw them play an amazing show (with the exception of a bored Wirmen being a douche on the keyboards) at Milwauke Metalfest. And I defended the band’s honor against every old, grizzled metal dude on the extreme metal forum I went to at the time. They called them Children of Boredom. Unfortunately, I kinda started to agree with them after a while and the records that followed Follow the Reaper were progressively more and more embarrassing.
So you can imagine my surprise when I popped in Relentless Reckless Forever and wasn’t bored, or hell, even upset! In fact, I was entertained! There’s a feeling of old school Children of Bodom that kinda emanates from the depths of this disc and that feeling got me excited. The whole thing starts off with the pretty damn rad “Not My Funeral” which shows off what this band is known for: the guitars. And really, it’s the guitars that kept me interested for the whole record. The solos feel inspired, the interplay between the keyboards and guitars is reminiscent of the old days and the frankly, they give me some pretty serious guitar envy—and that was always the point of Children of Bodom, right? ‘Cause it certainly wasn’t the depth of the lyrics....full text
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