Released: Jun 7, 2013
Genre: Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Number Of Tracks: 10
"Halo of Blood" stacks up fairly well with Children of Bodom's previous albums, and it will be seen as one of their best releases.
Halo of Blood
UG Team, on june 04, 2013 3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: Children of Bodom started in Finland in 1993 under the name Inearthed. After several unsuccessful demos they undertook the recording of their first full length album and caught the interest of Spinefarm Records, but changed their name to Children of Bodom to avoid legal entanglements with their previous label, Shiver Records. In subsequent releases the band had a tendency to tweak their sound, adding keyboard and different compositional elements, but having most often been associated with death metal or melodic death metal. In 1997, after opening for Dimmu Borgir, the band caught the attention of Nuclear Blast records which began their entrance to an international stage. Since then Children of Bodom have become a "household name" to the international metal community and have released numerous successful albums, including a cover album in 2009 called "Skeletons in the Closet." Their album, "Blooddrunk," released in 2008, is the one that caught my attention and I've listened to them since shortly after that release. The current lineup is Alexi Laiho on lead vocals and lead guitar, Roope Latvala on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Henkka Seppala on bass guitar and backing vocals, Janne "Warman" Wirman on keyboards, and Jaska Raatikainen on drums and backing vocals. Alexi and Jaska are both founding members, and Roope is the newest addition having joined in 2003 after Alexander Kuoppala left because he said the touring lifestyle no longer worked for him.
"Halo of Blood" is Children of Bodom's eighth full-length studio album and contains 10 tracks, clocking in at just under 42 minutes. The overall mixing and production on the album is perfection, with driving bass and the guitars maintaining the essential rawness and power to convey the aggression of the songs. The drums are precise but still have an organic feel. The album opens with the track "Waste of Skin" with a riff syncopated with the drums that builds into an instantly classic CoB track. The title track, "Halo of Blood" comes in like 3 minutes of pure aggression from the first note until the last. "Transference" is one of the most melodic songs from the album and probably some of the most successful use of keyboards on the album. "Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)" has a frenetic almost schizophrenic vibe to it and is well placed in the middle of the album, forcing you to lean forward and start listening fresh to the album. The track "Dead Man's Hand on You" is a great slow-burner type of track with a creepy feel and the most vocally dynamic. The album closes with "One Bottle and a Knee Deep," which is probably the most interesting track on the album for me, having a weird metal pirate shanty feel to it and also containing the most memorable guitar solo. // 9
Lyrics: Alexi Laiho has made small changes to his vocal style throughout his career, and with the release of "Halo of Blood" he periodically uses slightly cleaner vocals than he has on previous releases. He still uses death metal screams, but lets his vocals clean up occasionally. The rest of the band does a great job backing him up on vocals. In several places on the album they use "gang vocals" for parts of the lyrics. The lyrics to most of the album are loosely narrative while remaining abstract and pretty interesting, though it always takes me a couple of listens to pick all of them up. From the song "Transference," here are some of the loosely narrative but abstract lyrics I'm referring to: "Dragged in the light/ Like nothing was wrong/ Pulled towards where I don't belong/ I hear the fallen angels/ Sing my requiem/ Take a step/ Cross the line/ Have a thin/ Glance back and you're living in sin/ It hurts so bad/ Like a war within/ Looking at the blade/ Aiming at my eyes/ Staring to where the evil call my lies/ Keep a promise/ If you ever will/ Don't say a word/ Just kill, kill, kill!" // 8
Overall Impression: "Halo of Blood" was a fun album to listen to. There is a fair amount of variety on the album including some really interesting keyboard use to help make songs sound "epic." While Children of Bodom have been predominantly labeled as "melodic death metal" I've always thought of them more as thrash metal with elements of power metal and this album is a good argument for that, from my point of view. Really, the vocals are the main thing that give Children of Bodom that death metal label. My favorite tracks from the album are "Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)," "Transference," "Dead Man's Hand on You," and "One Bottle and a Knee Deep." Overall, this album stacks up fairly well with their previous releases and I think it will be seen as one of their best releases, at least rivaling with "Blooddrunk," in my opinion.
Halo of Blood
HardAttack, on june 20, 2013 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Children Of Bodom is an interesting band to me. They've written and released 8 albums now, have a solid following in their native Finland as well as in the U.S. and have one hell of a vocalist/guitarist in Alexi Laiho. Their sound seems to hit a certain sweet spot between other bands I like in and around Children Of Bodom's genre like In Flames or Amon Amarth. As my taste in metal music branches out, I seem to find myself drifting further away from the states and towards Europe, but that's another story. Children Of Bodom was introduced to me through Pandora with songs off of the album "Are You Dead Yet?" I was hooked, and went out to buy that record the same night. While I was very impressed with that release, and ended up buying "Relentless Reckless Forever," I can't say I was quite as thrilled with it, and was wondering if maybe the band was losing momentum since I discovered them pretty late in their discography. "Halo of Blood" has proved me wrong. Alexi displays strong examples of still being the master musician that he is by being able to write catchy guitar riffs and leads, write lyrics and being able to perform them live in front of capacity crowds. The more pronounced use of keyboards is a good touch I think, although I can't say I care much for the sound byte sampling between songs. It reminds me of a White Zombie / Rob Zombie record. I do actually like White Zombie, by the way, but I'm not sure if Alexi and the gang threw that in there for the heck of it or if they plan on doing this more in the future. It doesn't feel like it belongs to me. Overall though I'm quite pleased with the sound, barring the guitar tone which I'll speak out against despite any crap I might get from the people who comment down below. // 7
Lyrics: Constant references to "the blade" and "the bottle". Nothing wrong with telling a story about depression through alcohol and the desire to do some damage, but as this doesn't appear to be a concept album telling one continuous story, nor is it terribly interesting, I end up taking these lyrics at face value. They mostly mean what they mean as they are written. That being said, being a musician I make the sound my priority, and the quality of vocals hasn't seemed to change between albums. Alexi does a good job despite having to wear a lot of hats in the band; one of the reasons why I think he's a great musician. Even if people argue there are better guitarists, and better vocalists (which there are) you'll be hard pressed to find someone who does both of those jobs so well. A good cover song is always appreciated too ("Sleeping In My Car" by Roxette for those of you who don't have the bonus track version of the album). // 6
Overall Impression: As said earlier, I do prefer this to their last release "Relentless Reckless Forever." I don't think it's their best work to date, but the songs run into each other in a good way, not sounding as if a bunch of random songs that were recorded during different years with different mental states were simply thrown together on a disc. The album has a sense of cohesion, and that matters a lot to me. I would say that currently "Dead Man's Hand on You" and "Bodom Blue Moon" catch my interest the most currently, but favorite songs seem to change as time goes on with most albums I buy. I like the well written guitar and the layered vocals, though I can't say I love Alexi's guitar tone. I'd like to see a change there on the next album. I'd definitely get the album again because I'm a fan of the band, I have a bit of a collectors mentality, and most importantly I think overall the album was well done and I look forward to another release in the coming years. // 7