Thursday, August 12, 2010

Children of Bodom - Hatebreeder

Back when Bodom was still a viable force

I figured I should get through all of the Bodom albums, so here goes my second favorite, behind only the flawless Follow the Reaper, Hatebreeder. This was Bodom back in their heyday, in their prime so to speak. The follow up is a bit better, catapulting it to stratospheric proportions, but this one is just about to break out of Earth's atmosphere, just not quite there.

This is the album where the neoclassical style was the most prevalent, and the songwriting was still top notch. I've heard somebody describe this album as a collection ridiculously overblown novelty songs, and I can kind of see where he was going with that comment, but he also just hates Bodom in general. If you dislike this band to start with, there are two courses of action. You either go in and hope that they actually were good before their last two abortions that some people call albums, or you go in convinced that they were always shitty and so you look for things to call out. I don't think these are ridiculous novelties, but a huge Suffocation or Nile fan might think so, so it all boils down to your previous opinion for the most part (I'm assuming every metalhead on the planet has heard of Bodom).

Every band member is at almost their peak, a summit which everybody would reach with the next album, the only difference is that the drumming seems more intense here. It is mostly just simple double bass beats (although there is the occasional blast), but it's a hell of a lot more intense on this album. The leads/melodies/riffs/solos are phenomenal as usual on both the guitar and keys. The bass never really has any standout parts, usually following the rhythm guitar (barring certain sections of Downfall). The vocals are still indecipherable, but that's a good thing considering Alexi is the worst lyricist in metal. Janne's keys are used the best on this album from a player's viewpoint. I prefer his performance on Follow the Reaper, but here he is actually able to use them as an instrument (like he did on FtR), but he also creates excellent atmosphere. Most bands with a keyboardist tend to use him for just big hits and atmosphere, few use it as an instrument, this is the album where Wirman is able to do both flawlessly.

The album opens with Warheart, a fantastic speed filled monster, and the album never slows down for the most part. Bed of Razors isn't quite as unrelenting as fast as Silent Night, Bodom Night, but it is still a fantastic and nearly perfect song. Hatebreeder as an album has a few songs that aren't quite as heavy as what they would later write, but it's hard to knock them down a notch.

In fact the only song that isn't amazing is Wrath Within, starting off in a style that we would all unfortunately become very well acquainted with later down the road (Trashed, Lost, and Strungout nearly steals that opening riff). Luckily, the song gets back into the late nineties Bodom sound soon afterwards, but the intro takes the song down a bit, and it's the only song that isn't quite memorable. I can't recall parts from it from memory, whereas I can probably sing/air guitar the entirety of Downfall with no provocation to do so. It's like whatever magic they are usually working just fell a bit short on this song. Otherwise the entire album is great.

Seeing Bodom live has made me decide that Downfall is pretty much the coolest closer to any album/show I've ever witnessed. The suspense it builds in the beginning is breathtaking. Children of Bodom as one of the most party-tastic final minutes of any song I've ever heard outside of Motorhead. It's kind of hard to explain, but once you hear it you'll understand. Most of the riffs are extremely fast, tremolo picked patterns with bits of neoclassical shred thrown at the end. I mean that, there are leads at the end of the fucking RIFFS, that's nuts. Silent Night, Bodom Night, Hatebreeder, and Towards Dead End are good examples of what I'm saying. Not to mention Alexi actually plays those really complicated leads whilst singing, I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's not a studio trick, I've seen him pull it off live.

This is a review that's hard to write for me, because Hatebreeder really is an album that you have to hear to understand. Judging by the mixed reviews here, I wouldn't recommend buying it until you've at least heard it once because it is definitely different. If you're an old school Bodom fan, chances are you probably have this, and if you haven't it's pretty much the same style as Something Wild and Follow the Reaper.  They are really comparable to Metallica from a philosophical standpoint. Their fourth album got them mainstream attention, the fifth album WAS mainstream, and the sixth was a large pile of commercial shit. Therefore, Hatebreeder can be considered Bodom's Ride the Lightning. An excellent album from back when they actually wrote good music.

RATING - 98%

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