Released: 2006, Spinefarm/Universal Music
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The past two years have been massive for Children of Bodom in North America. Relentless touring, increased media exposure and two solid albums—2003’s HATE CREW DEATHROLL and 2005’s ARE YOU DEAD YET?—have forced us to make room in our hearts for the hard-working Finnish quintet. As a result of this rash of popularity, the inevitable live album (and companion DVD) is here in the form of STOCKHOLM KNOCKOUT LIVE, a two-CD chronicle of the ARE YOU DEAD YET? tour. After only five studio releases, it may seem a bit surprising that Children of Bodom are ready for a double live album but in reality, the timer barely clicks by the ninety-minute mark while covering eighteen tracks. Having seen Children of Bodom live almost a half-dozen times, their intensity as a live act is unparalleled and they do it all while having fun and playing with incredible skill—not an easy combination to pull off.
The charisma of vocalist/guitarist Alexi “Wildchild” Laiho is apparent even on CD, his lyrics drawing shouts and sing-alongs from the Swedish crowd. The blazing guitars dominate the mix and unlike the band’ studio CDs, are much more apparent without Janne Warman’s tinkling neo-classical-driven keyboards. Laiho and Warman do their traditional face-off on “Clash of The Booze Brothers” (a treat to witness live, as each do their best to play faster than the other) but the singer—along with his childhood hero, Roope Latvala—are the real stars here. Newer tracks like “Living Dead Beat” and “Needled 24/7” get “butched up” while early material such as “Follow The Reaper” and closing live staple “Downfall” feel beefier than the original versions. Not to be outdone, drummer Jaska Raatikainen unleashes a fury of a solo on “Deadbeats I”…and with a broken rib, no less. As well, a keen ear will pick up on brief interludes of Motley Crue’s “Too Young To Fall In Love,” “Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law,” AC/DC’s “That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ‘n Roll” and Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” to kick off “Downfall” as Laiho, a self-professed junkie for eighties metal, delivers their all-too-familiar licks.
What weighs down the CD version of STOCKHOLM KNOCKOUT LIVE is the lack of a visual. The DVD version of this show is vastly superior because the viewer feels as if he/she is part of the audience and can see the energy of the crowd, whereas the audio-only facet takes out a crucial element. This is hardly the fault of the band or this release but if a DVD version of the same material that includes bonus goodies is also available, I know where I would lay down my money if given the choice.
Children of Bodom’s rise to the top is hardly meteoric—SOMETHING WILD came out way back in 1997—but their hard work, determination and skill have finally paid off. A Finnish band fronted by a potty-mouthed singer playing neo-classical metal will never be Grammy darlings or sit atop the Top Forty charts Stateside but those in the know have witnessed that Children of Bodom deliver maximum bang for the buck and STOCKHOLM KNOCKOUT LIVE is testament to that fact. Killer sound production, an excellent setlist and enough guitar licks to tickle even the most serious metalhead make this CD and easy recommendation but along with that comes a caveat that a more “sensorial complete” version is also available in its DVD counterpart.