Children Of Bodom

I Worship Chaos

Written by: AP on 03/11/2015 15:37:55

As the band that introduced me to the more extreme forms of metal, Children of Bodom have a special status in my book. All the more frustrating it has thus been to witness first the sudden shift in their style on 2003’s “Hate Crew Deathroll”, and since the deterioration in quality and consistency that has marred successive albums from 2005’s “Are You Dead Yet?” onward. Those past five records just haven’t held water, and if you ask the undersigned, the main culprits are the abolition of the neo-classical and blackened touches that set ’Bodom anno 1997 to 2000 apart, and the corresponding increase in elements of generic thrash. As a result, my own interest in the band has waned over the years, though admittedly I still cling onto the prospect of ‘Bodom revisiting to the days of yore.

Alas, this latest release “I Worship Chaos” does not herald such a return to the immortal ‘Bodom sound. On it the Finnish metallers continue to adhere to a policy of knife’s edge precision when it comes to technical execution, but as is becoming their tragic signature, much of the material is churned out per automata leaving too few standout moments for the record to develop lasting value. Opening track “I Hurt” engages the neck muscles for headbanging with a groovy, hard hitting riff and drops of Janne Wirman’s customarily eerie synthesiser, producing an early highlight and thereby also a glimmer of hope for brighter times ahead. But onwards from there, one needs to claw through piles of adequate, but diluted melodeath/thrash fusions where even the band’s most potent weapon — the prowess of Wirman and frontman Alexi Laiho at stitching together epic solo duels — sounds like a withered version of their heyday. “Morrigan”, which reminds me of Hypocrisy and is certain to be a live staple at future shows, does give the listener the benefit of the doubt as well by delivering a monumental chorus, but by and large what you will hear on “I Worship Chaos” is the (admittedly solid) application of routine.

That the music should suddenly sound so barren from an instrumental perspective also has the inevitable side effect of exposing the limited scope of Laiho’s vocals. Once the perfect companion for the nightmarish atmosphere of the group’s early efforts, his shrill, black metal -inspired screaming is much less comfortable in these thrashier takes like the title track and “Hold Your Tongue”. Because the instrumental parts in such songs fail to evoke the sense of mystery and magnificence that made their predecessors so excellent, the end product tends to descend into monotony. The frustration of listening to an ensemble of musicians this skilled settling for inconsequential dross like “Prayer for the Afflicted” is fortunately alleviated by the fact that “I Worship Chaos” clocks in at a palatable ten tracks, and that at least the majority of them feature some element worthy of latching onto, be it a strong riff or solo by Laiho such as provides the foundation for both “Widdershins”, a brief bout of retrospection like “Horns”, or an effective chorus à la the example found in “Suicide Bomber”. As disappointing as the album is for a long standing fan, Children of Bodom are thus able to shield themselves from the most brutal criticisms with — ironically — the same routine that makes “I Worship Chaos” sound a little uninspired in the context of their full repertoire. Locked’n’loaded, riddled with a sense of recklessness, full of profanity and featuring the Grim Reaper on the cover, this is instantly recognisable as ‘Bodom, but seriously lacking edge.

6

Download: I Hurt, Morrigan, Horns
For the fans of: Dark Tranquillity, Kalmah, Norther
Listen: Facebook

Release date 02.10.2015
Nuclear Blast Records

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