Brilliant or inconsistent? You decide.
Children of Bodom's geographical origin is perhaps symptomatic of the band's ambiguous standing in the metal genre. Opinion is certainly varied. Speak to some and the Finnish metal veterans are frontrunners, if not pioneers. Speak to others and the band is viewed as inconsistent, to the point of being under-achievers (at least in the latter years).
Part of this is owed to the almost abstract style of COB. No, the band is not that technical and 'out there' that we can't understand or define them. Rather, the band's sound is more peculiar in direct comparison to their Scandinavian peers. While western neighbours Sweden have crafted and maintained the melodic death metal scene and Norway similarly flourished within the black metal genre, Finland's take on metal has almost been an adopted composite of the two.
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Children of Bodom have a fast and prominent backbone to their music, yet calling them a 'thrash' band seems misguided. Likewise, although containing keyboards, this certainly is not an explicitly symphonic metal band.
Seventh studio album, entitled, 'Relentless Reckless Forever' is an up and down listen. There are some moments where you want to hail this band as brilliant and equal points where you want to lament the musical direction. It's an improvement from its predecessor but still doesn't offer up anything new. Put simply, there are no surprises here. It's solid instead of inspired. Engaging instead of captivating. Assertive without being memorable.
The guitar work, mainly through the agency of frontman Alexi Laiho has always been a hallmark of the COB make-up. Again it is given its chance to shine. The overall tone of this album is driving and balanced by some melodic rhythm. Opener, 'Not My Funeral' does well to invite the listener in, showing promise with its steady European metal elements. Likewise, middle point, 'Cry of the Nihilist' is fast and typical of Children of Bodom's structure.
While, tracks such as 'Ugly' highlight the divide of this album. The song is clear and precise, better than most attempts today but still feels slightly lacklustre, failing to grab you with the same uncompromising intent as other fellow metal bands. Although, the group's cover of Eddie Murphy's 'Party All the Time' provides a bit of entertainment to end proceedings with.
This is a more well-rounded and refined listen than previous outing, 'Blooddrunk' and goes a fair way to repairing any lingering doubt held by fans. Probably not the defining point of Children of Bodom's career but a decent day at the office nevertheless.
Some listeners will hail this as brilliant. Some will yawn indifferently. Just like the pre-existing comments floating around on this release, 'Relentless Reckless Forever's' appeal will lie in the eyes (or rather ears) of the beholder.
1. Not My Funeral
2. Shovel Knockout
3. Roundtrip to Hell and Back
4. Pussyfoot Miss Suicide
5. Relentless Reckless Forever
7. Cry of the Nihilist
8. Was It Worth It?
9. Northpole Throwdown
10. Party All the Time (Eddie Murphy cover)