Children of Bodom
In 1968, a local psychopath turned a few campers’ stay at Finland’s Lake Bodom into a massive bloodbath. Perhaps more morbid than the native lake from whence Children of Bodom’s name came is the unfathomable rise to the top of the Finnish pop charts by the band’s self-same single — then again, Finland also has the highest suicide rate in the world.
Logistics aside, Children of Bodom’s Hatebreeder , which contains said single, proves that the death-dealing “sophomore slump” only applies to sissy pop bands, not frostbitten black metal ones. Hatebreeder is an acutely focused attack, at times black ‘n’ studded like hell-bent leather, at others spry ‘n’ agile like a frenzied jackrabbit. While the band may be the blackest of metals, headbangers of discriminating taste should find Children of Bodom an accessible bunch, fully capable of weaving a great deal of Maiden-esque power metal into its alchemic brew.
The twin-guitar riffery of Alexi Lahlo and Ale Knoppala is beyond brow-scorching, cerebral but powerful all the while, with the emphasis thoughtfully placed on composition and melodic contour rather than virtuostic masturbation. Setting new standards for the genre is Janne Wirman’s sterling keyboard work, functioning more as a melodic surge than an ambient snowdrift; amazingly, her fluid lines often match Knoppala’s blazing solos note for note. One final element that sets C.O.B. apart from its corpse-painted contemporaries is its rejection of blast-beat moronism for fist-pumping mid-tempos buffeted by drummer Jaska Raatikalnen’s frenzied double-bass work, igniting an exciting spark at any moment the band wishes.
From beginning to end, Hatebreeder is the quintessence of finely woven songcraft, standing magnificently tall as one the year’s top metal records thus far.
Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com