Children of Bodom

Nuclear Blast Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I was a teenager, I honestly believed that there was no such thing as too much heavy metal. The more I could get my hands on, the better. As I got older, not only did I formulate tastes for certain kinds of metal, but my musical palate widened, and metal kind of got pushed to the "sweets" portion - you know, only to be enjoyed as an occasional treat.

These days, you wouldn't believe the amount of new metal CDs I have in the "incoming" basket of the Pierce Memorial Archives. It's scary, really; I honestly think I could to three reviews of metal acts a day for two weeks, and probably just be caught up with the growing stack.

A lot of what we get to review is death metal - a genre I honestly can't say I've developed a taste for, but I can appreciate a job well done when I hear it. I guess I should be scared of a lot of the death metal I listen to - if only I could decipher whatever the hell they're screaming about. It kind of makes me think my three-year-old is trying to do the same deciphering trick with me.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One such band that falls under the "please provide the lyric sheet" category is Finland's Children Of Bodom, whose latest release Hatebreeder is supposed to capture the feel of classic death metal. I won't say if that's true or not, but while the disc is trying at times, there are a few moments of brightness.

More often than not, I heard classical music influences in the work of guitarist/vocalist Alexi Laiho, guitarist Ale Kuoppala and keyboardist Janne Wirman. There are even a few moments where I'd swear the band was influenced partially by Yngwie J. Malmsteen - frankly, not a bad place to learn your licks from. To hear musical technicality like that shows the skeptics that there is often more than the caffiene-overdose rhythms and the gloom-and-doom vocal prophesies.

Of the remaining band members, drummer Jaska Raatikainen impressed with the clean-sounding thrashing he gave his kit. It's one thing to smash the drums into oblivion; it's another to make each hit heard loud and clear. Bassist Henkka Seppala is too often hidden in the mix; I would have liked to have heard him brought out to the forefront more often.

As for the music - well, if you're looking for lyrical insights, don't come running to me, 'cause the only word I made out was "fuck" and a few of its variants. (I have an advance release copy of the disc; I don't know if the official release has lyrics in the liner notes.) Musically, there's no faulting Children Of Bodom, for their sound is incredibly clean.

The problem comes down to excitement - namely, when I listen to Hatebreeder, does something go off in my head that sets this album apart from the rest of the genre? And that, sadly, is where the album eventually falls flat. Tracks like "Warheart," "Bed Of Razors" and "Black Widow" might be decent enough songs, but I don't get the feeling that I'm listening to something special.

Hatebreeder is a very short album, clocking in at under 40 minutes, and I'm sure that if you're into the death metal scene, you'll find something in this album that I might have missed. But for the average headbanger, even after a few listens to Hatebreeder, you might wonder what all the hype is about.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.