Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Children of Bodom - Halo of Blood (2013)

So once again, there had been rumours that the Finnish death metal band Children of Bodom has finally got it right, that they have found their way back to the glory days with album such as "Hate Crew Deathroll" and "Follow The Reaper". As before, I took these rumours with a pinch of salt. Do not get me wrong, I am a real fan of CoB, but these promises that they have gone back to the early stage of their career have been, more or less, false. I still can enjoy some of the material on "Blooddrunk" and "Relentless, Reckless, Forever", but the magic was nowhere to be found. This time however, I must say that the rumours were true.

"Halo of Blood" is indeed the first album in 10 years that has the heaviness in focus. Sure, the melodies are still there, but besides "Transference", they keep a more laid back role in the songs on this record. Instead, it is the heavy riffs and the overwhelming power that plays the main part on "Halo of Blood". It is like the band has gotten hold of a time machine and turned the clock at least 10 years backwards. The perfect example of the new heavy direction is in the marvelous title track that with a doom like atmosphere takes a hold of you and attacks you with high precission blast beats until you are beaten senseless. And it also has a great melodic solo to wrap up the old and new.

But it is not only the heaviness that is putting a big impression on me. Just like in the last release, "Relentless, Reckless, Forever", the band is showing a good variation. From the intoxicating and catchy "Transference" to the smooth flowing "All Twisted", Children of Bodom is showing off most of their register. And fortunately, the variation is not so vast that it makes "Halo of Blood" fragmented. There is a clear red line that goes through every song in this album, so the overall experience on the album is not damaged.

Now to some of the highest points on this album. First off, we have "Screaming For Silence" with its mid-tempo sound that stands out and almost seem beautiful compared to the other songs. It surprised me that the band could write such mellow songs without making it sound wimpy. Then we have the exciting "Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)" that clearly has the best guitar riffs and a groovy tempo that should make most of you happy. "Dead Man's Hand On You" is the slowest song in the album, but the dark mood makes it one of the more emotional tracks in "Halo of Blood". Definitely a great song for those of you who like heavy ballads. And what would a CoB album be without a thrashy segment. That segment is delivered in the beginning of "Damaged Beyond Repair", a song that is a okay listen, but otherwise from the intro, there is nothing really special with this track.

So there is not much to complain about on "Halo of Blood". The production is sleek, but still heavy, the band is doing what they do best, and even though the true depth of Alexi's vocals is not as great as before, he is still doing a great work on his part. The only real problems with "Halo of Blood" is that the album miss a complete killer. The title track is the closest, but it does not quite stand up against songs like "Needled 24/7" or "If You Want Peace... Prepare For War". But instead of have a couple of killer songs, the band has put together 10 songs that are more or less equal in strength, and together, these songs create a highly enjoyable album.

"Halo of Blood" is definitely superior against albums like "Are You Dead Yet?" and "Blooddrunk" and it is a test of strength that CoB is showing. The band has taken the best parts from the old and new Bodom, and mashed up a record that was way over my expectation. Now let us hope that they keep their roots in their future material, but also have the guts to develop their sound even further. Because if the band continue down this route, then I am certain that they will create more killer album like this one.

Songs worthy of recognition: Halo of Blood, Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming), Transference, All Twisted

Rating: 8,5/10 Bottles and knees

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