Children of Bodom are a Finnish metal band that has always pissed off the OCD crowd in that they could be called melodic death metal, power metal, thrash and technical at times. They are hard to label, and there is nothing wrong with that. This is an accomplishment in that not many bands sound anything like Children of Bodom, at least not successfully. Everyone has the failed clones hiding in the attic, eating fish heads and being kept from the eyes of the world because of their hideous visage or in this case misbegotten appropriation of sound; most of CoB’s are from the power metal genre. Children of Bodom make some excellent thrash-y, melodic and at times technical music, and Relentless Reckless Forever is exactly that.
Relentless Reckless Forever is an improvement over Blooddrunk, which lacked those very strong memorable tracks of Hatebreeder, but it’s not up to par with Follow the Reaper or Hatebreeder. The CoB sound is here: the melodic keyboards from Janne Wirman, the technical riffs from Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala, the blistering technical solos from Alexi, and the classic driving thrash rhythm section of made up of bassist Henkka Seppälä and drummer Jaska Raatikainen. This album has grown on me while I have had it in the mix for review. CoB’s music is very dense and it takes a few listens to take it all in. Laiho is a master at creating a huge sound, and Relentless Reckless Forever is no exception. Lyrically it’s sort of weak but at least it’s not sappy psycho babel horseshit. Laiho has never been an artful lyricist, but this has never really bothered me with CoB as it’s far from the point of the music. Not My Funeral, while not really a weak track or filler, initially had me thinking this album was a step backwards. It does grow on you though after the song picks up. Shovel Knockout is a return to the CoB fans have come to expect, and lives up to its name with a shovel-like assault of guitars. Roundtrip to Hell and Back is a more groove oriented track for CoB, but the following Pussyfoot Miss Suicide is back to form, it starts off with a groove and builds up throughout the track into faster more aggressive CoB. I think I hear a little crazy train in the main riff in the second half of the song actually, not exactly a rip off, but inspired by maybe. I think this track will divide the folks looking for art vs. those looking for metal to drink to. Ugly is the closest thing to filler on the album, it’s not terrible, but it seems to be more sound effect based and less composition. Cry of the Nihilist opens with an excellent thrash-y riff, and continues on that way. Was it Worth it? is a strong track, classic CoB huge choruses and gang vocals, the keys get a little loud here for some reason, but not enough to ruin the track. Laiho described it as “a total party song”, and it is. The bass mix is the best here, you have a chance to hear it alone during the breaks. Alexi shows that he is more than a technician on this track and can play with a lot of feel. The closing track, Northpole Throwdown is the kind of track one might expect to close a CoB album, aggressive, fast, driving, not the strongest closer I’ve ever heard from them but it does the job.
Overall Relentless Reckless Forever is a solid album that improves upon Blooddrunk yet falls short of Hatebreeder. There is not anything really new in the album from Children of Bodom, but on the other hand it shows something of a return to the older CoB albums, which is a good thing in this case. Fans of Hatebreeder and Follow the Reaper might not like it as much at first listen, but give it a few spins and see if it grows on you. If you were introduced to CoB through Bloodrunk, this album will seem a step up and a natural progression.
1.Not My Funeral
3.Roundtrip to Hell and Back
4.Pussyfoot Miss Suicide
5.Relentless Reckless Forever
7.Cry of the Nihilist
8.Was It Worth It?