Sound — 5
Upon first listen, the new Children Of Bodom release sounds like every other album the boys have put out. Alexi Laiho screams as though he is being stabbed, the keyboards dominate, the rhythm section provides ample backup. However, on further inspection, the sound is quite different than other Children Of Bodom albums. The album is incredibly dark and less melodic than any other disc, which makes the previously released "Trashed, Lost And Strungout" seem out of place. There are definitely more industrial influences. Rather than rely on leads and solos, the songs are powered by low-end riffs and catchy choruses. It is quite odd, as this pushes the memorability factor down as the catchiness goes up. The melodic guitar is gone, almost completely. Alexi Laiho seems content on becoming a backup player for the man helming the keyboards, Janne Warman. Rather than be a showcase for the undeniable talents of all members, they seem content with writing a pedestrian collection of songs. The music relies on rhythm more than ever. The energy is all but sapped from the music. Instead of seem exciting about their new direction, they sound tired and bored. Perhaps the relentless touring (to everywhere but Edmonton, dammit) has finally taken it's toll. "Punch Me I Bleed" is a pale attempt to rewrite "Angels Don't Kill." The worst example of the all-style, no-substance approach is the title track, which sounds like an outtake from the new Static-X album (shudder, shudder). Lead single "In Your Face" switches from mid-tempo riffs to incredibly fast tempos, and none of it works at all. Most of the songs on this album sound forced rather than forceful. The album isn't all bad, though. "Living Dead Beat" is proof that the style of albums like "Hatebreeder" can mix quite well with their newfound industrial influence. With a keyboard intro that sounds like, as one of my friends so accurately described it, "walking in a dark alley with ninjas attacking you," it will inspire more than it's fair share of headbanging. "If You Want Peace... Prepare For War" has that energy and guitar-keyboard duelling the Bodom boys became underground stars for, coupled with a hook so stupid it works. They rip through one of their best riffs with "Next In Line." However, "Bastards Of Bodom" and "We're Not Gonna Fall" are two relatively average songs, since the former is bereft of hooks and sounds like a cheap rip-off of their own "Needled 24/7," and the latter, while having a supreme hook, lacks energy. On the whole, this reviewer was not impressed, especially after the first four explosive albums of grade-A heavy metal.
Lyrics — 4
The lyrics are much of the same, incredibly cheesy rants about kicking someone's ass after they piss Alexi off. It's not good, but in this style of music, who the hell cares? Mr. Laiho opts for catchy choruses, which all sound awkward. The attempts at gang vocals are limp and sad when compared to past offerings.
Overall Impression — 5
The bottom line is, it's not "Follow The Reaper," but then again it's not trying to be. This is a transitional album, one in which they are learning to use their love of industrial music and sing-along choruses to their advantage. This album is meant to sound heavy, but it's a sheep in wolves clothing. Until they gain more confidence in their anthem-writing abilities, they will wander in a purgatory of merely average heavy metal bands. Despite all the catchy choruses, rarely does a song on this album become truly memorable. "Living Dead Beat," "If You Want Peace... Prepare For War," and "Next In Line" are the few times when they aren't afraid to let loose. All in all, buy the album and decide for yourselves. It may grow on your better than it did on this reviewer.