Thursday, August 12, 2010

Children of Bodom - Follow the Reaper

An honest to goodness perfect album

After ripping their two latest albums to shreds, I decided I needed to remind myself why I ever loved Bodom in the first place. So, I popped in one of my favorite albums of all time, and let it kick my ass. Holy god, anybody interested should definitely check this out first, and if you are hailing Are You Dead Yet? or Blooddrunk as masterpieces, then chances are you've never heard Follow the Reaper.

It's been said before, but I'll say it again, Bodom has fallen into a very large pile of shit as of late. The last few albums have been boring, uncreative, plodding, unambitious, and just downright bad. They dumbed down their previously unique sound to cater to the dumber crowd because there was more money in it that way. If that's not how the band sees it, then they are either lying to themselves, or they've honestly decided that it is better for them, as musicians, to devolve. When one looks back though, they see brilliance. The first album is mindblowing, the next is even better. Hate Crew Deathroll is a step in a simpler direction, but it was still undeniably Bodom. In the middle of all that, there was their crowning achievement, 2001's Follow the Reaper.

All the technicality, songwriting, and catchiness of Hatebreeder has carried over, and yet the band managed to one up themselves once again. The songs are faster, louder, more bombastic, and just overall better. That is a shocking achievement as well, because Hatebreeder is a timeless classic... and that should really show how great Follow the Reaper is. The lyrics are still dumb as hell, but this was back when the music was so captivating you didn't care (it also helped that he screamed pretty non coherently back then). I also find it funny that only a few songs have the lyrics in the booklet (that's because Alexi has a habit of not even writing lyrics, and just makes them up on the spot in the studio). The parenthesized statement was actually a decent excuse for the bullshit lyrics back then, but now they have a budget equivalent to that of the newest Lord of the Rings film, so there is no way they are rushed anymore.

This was the shining moment of every members' career, barring maybe Jaska. The drumming was a tad better on Hatebreeder I think, but everything else is a step up. The guitar, bass, vocals, and keys are all a smidge bit better than the previous outing. The solos on both instruments are all insane, and I'm still baffled that Laiho can sing and play those complex melodies/leads at the same time (it's not a studio trick either, I've seen them live twice). The keys are only reduced to playing atmosphere a couple of times, for the most part they are used as an instrument, playing leads and solos.

As for the individual tracks, none suck.... wow...... none suck. I never know what the score for an album is going to be before I write a review, as I usually write it and then input the individual scores to calculate the average at the end, but when I was thinking of what the weakest track would be, I realized that there isn't one. Every last track is flawless. Each with catchy riffs and melodies, not to mention mind blowing solos from back when Alexi and Janne used to shred like their lives depended on it. I was going to cite Taste of My Scythe as the worst track, but in listening, there is nothing wrong with it. It is just as good as Northern Comfort or Every Time I Die. I guess the three aforementioned songs aren't as good as the rest, but they are still perfect tens. It just means that Follow the Reaper, Bodom after Midnight, Children of Decadence, Mask of Sanity, Hate Me! and Kissing the Shadows are like.... 12/10.

I guess the best of the best would be Kissing the Shadows. The whole last minute is a sweeping shredfest that actually compliments the music perfectly, it doesn't come off as wanky. Mask of Sanity is also a standout for the extreme catchiness and bindblowing solos. I guess you can just take that last sentence and replace the song title with any of the first three, and it is perfectly applicable.

See, this album is proof that I am not just a Bodom hater. May last few reviews have actually garnered some hate mail, and I felt like my fandom was being called into question. I was going to review this anyways (as I'm going to eventually review every album I have), but I moved it to the top of the list after my latest shitstorm, and actually surprised myself with just how amazing this actually is. I thought Taste of My Scythe or Northern Comfort would drag it down just a teensy bit, and end up with a 96 or something in the end, but as I listened to it trying to remember what I didn't like about them, I was treated with memorable, catchy, fast, and impressive songs. Every last song is perfect.

Well, this is my second 100, and my first for a full album. Nuns Have No Fun got a perfect score, but it only had four tracks, which probably helped. Children of Bodom actually managed to write a full length album with no weak spots. No dips in quality, no nothing. I absolutely love everything about this album, and it deserves all of the praise it gets. I wasn't joking when I said it is one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time.

Fans of the newer stuff should check this out only so they know what they are missing, and what the band used to be capable of. Fans of the older stuff should already have it, so just crank it really loud or something. Fans who are new to Bodom and are trying to find a good place to start.... well, it's not a coincidence that this is the most reviewed and highest rated Bodom albums on the site. Truly a classic.

RATING - 100%

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