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'I Worship Chaos'
(Nuclear Blast)
Out Now

scott adams

children of bodom

Despite faithfully returning to the band with each new release I – and if the internet is anything to go by, many, many others – have been slowly losing patience with Finland’s Children of Bodom. Too many samey releases, a seeming lack of enthusiasm on the part of the band to deviate from their extremely well tested default position and, let’s face it, plenty of other better options meant that slowly but surely CoB’s position of eminence in the world of melodic Death Metal was being eroded.

If ‘I Worship Chaos’ wasn’t their last chance, then surely that drink in the saloon of the same name wasn’t far off.

All of which made this reviewer almost tremble with apprehension on the first playing of this record. Forty odd minutes later I unstrapped myself, changed my underpants and went back to the start of what will most definitely be seen as one of the comeback albums of 2015.

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Opener ‘I Hurt’ sets the scene by ripping your face off and then shouting repeatedly into the holes where your ears used to be. Frantic, uncompromising – of course it is – yet shot through with the sort of unhinged melody that seemingly only guitarist Alexi Laiho and keyboard player Janne Wirman at full tilt can come up with, it’s a staggeringly good statement of intent.

‘My Bodom (I Am the Only One)’ carries on the good work, guitar and keyboard duelling like some sort of grim-faced twenty first century take on classic rock as filtered through the eyes and ears of the truly deranged, while ‘Morrigan’ drops in pace but not intensity, Laiho’s fractured bellow coming to the fore on the sort of track that compatriots Amorphis might have conjured up in a former life.

Fourth track Horns is the album at its most direct, a straight up thrasher featuring some punishing drumming from Jaska Raatikainen and some improbably fast ivory tinkling from Wirman, but it’s over almost as soon as it’s begun and its abrupt stop leaves an almost tangible hole in the air around your ears.

That’s filled immediately by the stately dirge that is the intro to ‘Prayer for the Afflicted’ . ‘Prayer…’ is a magnificent piece of work, and features some absolutely storming guitar work from Laiho who really is at his most exuberant here, filling the mix with some dancing playing to complement the more stentorian riffage of the now-departed Roope Latvala.

That’s the first half of the album done with, but if anything, part two is even better. Commencing with the title track –where Wirman dazzles again with some virtuoso playing – but peaking with the utterly awesome following track ‘Hold Your Tongue’, the last five tracks on the album feature some of the best Bodom music committed to tape in a long, long time. Permit me to enlarge on this.

‘Hold Your Tongue’ is – and I’m not making this up – the best thing this band has done since 2000’s earth-shattering ‘Follow the Reaper’; a skull cracking synthesis of melody and death Metal might it pushes all the buttons that Laiho and co sledge hammered back in the day, immediately reigniting your passion for what made them such a dangerous proposition in the first place.

Next track Suicide Bomber serves up more of the same with Laiho conjouring his best solo of the album amid yet more unforgiving yet ear-manglingly melodic sturm und drang from the rest of the (hate) crew.

Penultimate track ‘All for Nothing’ takes us back to the eighties via the gift of a keyboard intro Journey would have been particularly pleased with, before the riffs begin to detonate in supremely controlled fashion.

Given the unfettered abandon of the rest of the album this drop in intensity is doubly effective. It doesn’t last, of course, as the band ramp up the intensity as the track builds up, ebbing and flowing through several movements (and more duelling between Laiho and Wirman, obviously) before it’s final, fade to black denouement. Monstrous stuff.

Final track ‘Widdershins’ ends the whole shebang in just as monstrous fashion as ‘I Hurt’ opened it, the sum of all this being, to my mind, easily the best thing Children of Bodom have released since the afore-mentioned’ Follow the Reaper’.

In short – if you like Death Metal, this is essential stuff.

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