Finnish melodic death metal superstars Children Of Bodom have returned to greatness. After two frankly disappointing releases, this is a well overdue return to form! It’s a record which feels like the five members teaming up to beat you into submission.
Entitled Halo Of Blood, this album is a perfect reflection of where the band is right now – as a group, and as individuals. The issues which frontman Alexi Laiho has faced over the years is, after all, no secret.
Building from the foundations of the band’s extensive back catalogue, Halo Of Blood seems like a very natural evolution for the band. The opening track Waste Of Skin instantly makes it clear that the band are firing on all cylinders. Melodies are rich, and the drums come fast and furious. Whilst this isn’t a world away from Bodom classic Needled 24/7, we’re led down an entirely different path, into the destructively heavy title track. Halo Of Blood is skull crushing, heavy enough to trigger an earthquake – this is the black eye to match the first traces of a split lip!
Transference gives me an uneasy feeling, like a kind of creeping death. No wonder this was chosen as a single; the slow guitar riffing brings a tense atmosphere which is then cracked by Alexi’s trademark growl. The track has a NWOBHM feel to its vocal melody, but retains the standard guitar power that should come with a Bodom release, which is here in more abundance than ever before. Blasting giant walls of sound, reinforced with crushing bass and a synth which feels quite restrained in this release (that seems to be a positive point). The haunting feel continues into the next track, you know, the expected one with ‘Bodom’ in the title. Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming) is exactly that. Led by almost demonic vocals, this has a true feeling of a refreshed sound coming from the band, as they deliver massive riffs with almost surgical precision.
It’s in Dead Man’s Hands On You where I feel a true sense of Bodom evolution, beginning with a low voiced, spoken word piece by Alexi, backed up by the occasional scream. It’s doomy as hell, bleak and stark – and really quite like an exposed nerve in this album. Whilst this is as close to a ballad as I think Bodom are truly capable, it still packs a punch, a heavy Finnish fist to the face. I guess this is the broken nose.
All Twisted is the beginning of the end (in the standard version of this release), which is followed up by One Bottle And A Knee Deep – this track is the final blow, going for the jugular. It’s filled with fury, a classic circle-pit-inducing Bodom anthem! Fast and unrelenting, it’s a stage dive into the unknown, but this is a bright ending to a brilliant record, and proves to me something this album needed to do; which is that Children Of Bodom have got plenty left in the tank!
This record proves once more than Children Of Bodom are one of the best bands on the earth, bringing their brand of death metal to an entirely new audience. Halo of Blood is a fantastic release and something the band should be proud of, truly their best release in quite some time.
Relentless, Reckless, Forever!