Sound — 9
If there's one key element that makes Children Of Bodom beloved by its fans, it's the concert experience the band gives that hearkens back to metal icons like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. So it was a wise decision on the band's part to release a full-length concert DVD chronicling the stage show full of pyrotechnics, dual keyboard-guitar solos, and a heavy helping of middle fingers. Chaos Ridden Years - Stockholm Knockout Live is a must-have for Bodom fans, with its extensive live song list, bonus videos, and band documentary. The concert portion of the DVD filmed at The Arenan in Stockholm, Sweden, is thorough if it is anything. If you're hoping that COB (Alexi Laiho on vocals/guitar, Roope Latvala on guitar, Henkka Blacksmith on bass, Janne Warman on keyboards, and Jaska Raatikainen on drums) performs a particular song -- be it Follow The Reaper or Everytime I Die -- you won't be disappointed as there are 19 songs on the setlist. But aside from just doing the usual thing by playing hit songs, COB's approach to concerts is classic in that all the musicians excel at their respective instruments and are allowed to present those talents to the fullest extent. In Chaos Ridden Years, audiences are allowed to fully recognize that through extensive solo work and you're likely to have a whole new appreciate for the band just in seeing those moments. What the DVD could have used is a bit more enhancement to Laiho's vocals. While the COB is highly driven by the intertwining guitar and keyboard melodies, vocals are still essential for audiences. The mixing just didn't provide enough balance in that sense, and Laiho can barely be heard throughout most of the concert. If you've got an adequate sound system, you might be able to tweak the problem out a bit, but that extra work shouldn't necessarily be the job of the fans. On Silent Night, Bodom Night it would have been nice to have a little more focus on the solo portions. There's a fantastic shared solo between Laiho and Warman that is absolutely the highlight of the song. Unfortunately the cameras are so intent on shooting every which way that they lose some of the intensity of the solo. While they dedicate some time to the two musicians going at the solo, the angle doesn't allow viewers to get a true sense of what Laiho is playing. You'll be able to see every note that Warman plays, but with Laiho you're more likely to see his back. Thankfully by the time the DVD gets to songs like Hate Me! and most memorably Bodom After Midnight, you're able to get a close-up view of Laiho's key solos. One of the most entertaining moments comes when drummer Jaska Raatikainen is given the spotlight for a drum solo in Deadbeats I. Sure, plenty of people might dread the drum solo section of a concert, but Raatikainen makes it a little more than your typical one by starting out with a beer in one hand and the drumstick in the other. Once the bit of comic relief takes place, Raatikainen immediately gets down to business and the camera angles do his lightening-speed skills justice.
Content — 10
Chaos Ridden Years is musically a complete package in terms of content. The band could have easily gotten away with the 19-track live set list and perhaps a few extras, but it provides a well-rounded video collection along with it. Those combined aspects will make this DVD essential in the COB library. The advanced copy received did not yet show the full documentary that is to be included on the DVD, but it will apparently be a 47-minute long look at the band's history directed by Yka Jarvinen. Along with that portion, there will also be yet another documentary that chronicles the making of Stockholm Knockout Live thrown into the mix. When you take a look at the almost 3-hour long viewing that you're provided with, it's safe to say that COB went above and beyond the call of duty to please its fans.
Production Quality — 9
Whether or not you enjoy the fast-paced, multiple-angle approach to the concert portion of the DVD is going to be a personal preference. On one hand, the rapid changes from one camera angle to the next reflect the energy of the band. But in some cases, there are solos that don't get the attention that is needed. In a song like Bodom After Midnight, the direction is at it's best and you can see every single move that Laiho's fingers make. But there are other times when you might wish the camera could just stay on one shot a little longer to capture the intensity that is happening with a particular instrument. The concert is shot in a blue-light tone providing a nice dramatic look to the performance, and it feels more like a video than a concert at times. This directing choice might take a little bit of the rawness out of the concert -- particularly if you've already seen COB live in the flesh -- but the music is performed so flawlessly that the smooth video quality works well.
Overall Impression — 9
A lot of bands could take a cue from Children of Bodom in terms of giving a well-rounded, entertaining DVD to the fans. The Finnish band has given the most complete COB experience that you could feasibly get at this time. Fans have probably already seen most of the videos, but it's not everyday that you get to see a complete stage show and documentary as well. Although the documentary was not finished at the time of this review, the look at the band's history would make Chaos Ridden Years the complete package. While the DVD does have its sound flaws and the camera angles aren't always perfect, the content does make up for most of the mistakes. It's likely that fans will appreciate the band more than before with this latest release, and even those who aren't that familiar with the band will see that there is plenty of insane talent that goes into performing even the simplest COB song.