Say what you will about the lyrics, say what you will about heavy metal in particular; one thing that cannot be denied is that Finland's Children of Bodom
can play their asses off. This is a band that not only understands but employs the entire history of metal into a bludgeoning but utterly polished and precise attack. Guitarists Alexi Laiho
and Roope Latvala
are a crushing attack of shred-worthy riffs and utterly magnificent fills and riffs. Jaska Raatikainen
's drumming is so physically demanding and precise that it is almost inhuman. Janne Warman
is the first metal cat in the post-black metal era to know how to use keyboards in a two-guitar band. There are no majestic flourishes here to tie him to prog rock; instead, he riffs, fills, and creates spiny backdrops for the other players to feed off of. And as a bassist, Henkka Blacksmith
is the anchor, holding these flying, swirling, grinding, pummeling elements together. This double-disc set is the companion piece to the Chaos Ridden Years: Stockholm Knockout Live DVD. There are 19 cuts taken from throughout the band's career. The sound quality is almost too perfect. Children of Bodom understand how important a show is in rock & roll and particularly in metal. They are far from their black and thrash metal beginnings in some ways -- surely to the aggravation of purists (who are narrow-minded in any genre) -- and have moved toward a category all their own. On disc one, check out the raging attack in tracks such as "Living Dead Beat" and "Silent Night, Bodom Night," and the textured but no less heavy dynamic approach of "Angels Don't Kill." On the second platter, scope out the guitar counterpoint in "In Your Face," the eerie frightwig muscle-flexing in "Lake Bodom," and the sonic assault of "Everytime I Die." Anyone interested in the history and development of heavy metal will find greatness in Children of Bodom. This set puts all of that on display. Those who wish the band had not progressed to this level of instrumental and songwriting sophistication will quickly claim "sellout," but then it's their loss. This baby rocks and rocks hard from start to finish. Long live the new metal.