Despite a meteoric rise seeing them amongst the most esteemed acts in 21st century metal, all has certainly not been smooth sailing for Children Of Bodom. With a recent dip in form exposing overt flamboyancy blanketing a lack of fundamental songwriting chops, the band’s popularity has endured perhaps in part to the unswerving virtuosity and instrumental proficiency on display. Fortunately, with ‘Halo Of Blood’ embracing a welcome number of curve balls and a returning focus on songsmithery, the Finnish sextet look to be back to their scintillating best.
Opening with the glitzy histiorics that is ‘Waste Of Skin’, long time fans will no doubt be delighted with the soaring lead work and chest beating hooks we are greeted with, yet the rest of us don’t have long to wait for evidence that all is not business as usual. The title-track lunges with a swirlingly frosty black metal refrain, employing perhaps some of the most vicious instrumentation of the band’s career, whereas ‘Bodom Blue Moon’ shifts between full throttle progressivisms and route one, riff led stomp. Indeed, there’s something of a cutthroat gallop here which sees these tracks engage with a wide-eyed intensity, the bloodthirsty surge of ‘Your Days Are Numbered’ being a fantastic case in point that COB have come back rejuvenated somewhat.
The award for most startling gambit, however, undoubtedly goes to the morose ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’. Spoken word passages and acoustic plucking brood before an explosive chorus and the habitual guitar/keyboard encounter, displaying dynamics which were thought to be long consigned to gathering dust in the band’s arsenal, and a towering grandeur which is as refined and anthemic as the band have sounded in recent memory.
‘Halo Of Blood’ represents Children Of Bodom envelop both a laudable diversity and a relentless aggression, marrying all that has saw them gain such standing in modern metal royalty. A collection of hard hitting, fleet fingered and wildly entertaining numbers was crucial to see them back on track, and as it is, this eighth offering has achieved just that.
Written by Tony Bliss