It’s not a good sign when you begin to play a Children of Bodom album with trepidation, if not downright fear — fear that it would be as largely forgettable as Blooddrunk, fear that one of your personal gateways to the realms of extreme metal would begin to tumble further down the barren road toward formulaic pandering, fear that a band which used to have some real teeth to go along with all the flashy fretwork and power-metal keyboard riffing would begin to gum their food. That was me — fearful.
I am happy to say that, at least for now, those fears have subsided. The new COB disc, Relentless, Reckless Forever, is not as relentless or as reckless as I might have wished, but it’s a step up from the last album. The band genuinely bear their fangs and flex some claws more than they have in recent memory, the borderline-cheesy, pop-metal stylings have been dialed back, and on some songs the band take a few welcome steps outside their comfort zone.
Having said that, not all is completely well in the Land of Bodom. For me, the question posed by the first single, “Was It Worth It?”, is “not really” (despite the presence of an infectious chorus riff). The closer, “Northpole Throwdown”, is a song destined to be forgotten — an uninspired thrash-and-keyboard sandwich that just isn’t spicy enough. And then there’s a number called “Pussyfoot Miss Suicide”. It’s not nearly as embarrassing as the song title (how could it be?). In fact, it’s a heavy song musically, but I made the mistake of reading the lyrics. Embarrasing.
On the other hand, the album includes a collection of real standouts, some of which will make my personal “Best of COB” playlist. (more words after the jump, plus a song . . .)