Children Of Bodom
Halo Of Blood
Nuclear Blast)

This eighth studio album from Finnish melodic death vets Children Of Bodom sees the band playing around in much of the same light as almost every other release, which is certainly good news to the fans; but there are quite a few unexpected twists and turns that may prove to be rather exciting to those who have cast them off years ago. “Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)” might prove to be one of the single best tracks in the band’s history, utilizing all of Alexi Laiho’s guitar skills and pushing Janne Wirman’s keyboard to the point of overheat; while title track “Halo Of Blood” erupts with unexpected black metal riffs and some blasts near the end. However, there’s an ode to death called “Dead Man’s Hand On You” which might be one of the band’s slowest songs ever recorded and stands as one of my personal favorite on the disc. While some might not like the Goth-drenched vocal approach that first appears on this track, it grows into a rather venomous ballad quite in the vein of God Dethroned’s “Typhoid Mary” for which the song briefly reminds me. This shows a new side to Bodom, but sadly; it’s one that most people won’t understand because it is such a sudden left turn from what they’d normally expect from the band. Yet, it’s this kind of left turn that briefly saves the album from becoming just another Bodom record. I definitely think that I would have liked the disc better if Alexi’s vocals hadn’t been so up front in the mix, giving the guitars, drums and keyboards more room to breathe; but perhaps I should blame Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain) for this decision as he helped a bit in the production process. While a high vocal mix has always benefited Hypocrisy albums, it doesn’t seem to aid this Bodom release and makes most of these songs come off as complete fodder. I want to hear more of this album, but I’m afraid I can’t because there’s just too much of Alexi on the disc for me to really hear the melodies and feel the music that’s being offered here. Many of the songs begin to sound the same (particularly near the end of the disc) and if you’ve heard one recent Bodom album, then they’ll offer little for you to behold. But if anything can be said about this album, then it’s in the fact that the lyrical scope of the band has widened – a decision which I praise greatly, as I have quickly tired of hearing about the same few topics on Bodom releases throughout the years. Children Of Bodom still sound the same as they always have, but on Halo Of Blood, they’ve got a few new tricks up their sleeve. But will these tricks be enough to stop the album from falling into mediocrity? That’s up to you to decide. (Eric May)

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