Released: 2013, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
They may not be as famous as the Lakes from which they take their name, but then those unsolved murders have a good 30 years on them. When it comes to Finland’s music scene though Children Of Bodom are some sort of super export, which has probably left the local Government tapping their fingers trying to figure out how they can capitalise on this.
Having impacted big right at the beginning though, the last few albums from Children Of Bodom have all come with that buzz of how they should go back ‘to the good old days’. The same sort of clouds that follow Metallica around. Only Children Of Bodom haven’t spun out a ‘St Anger’ yet, so consider that in your moaning.
Whether they meant it in that way or not, Halo Of Blood could be the album that calms the dissenters, and brings together fans of Children Of Bodom’s new and older material. Or is that too much wishful thinking. Still it really is a culmination of all their previous influences - there’s a return to their almost forgotten black metal tendencies on ‘Halo Of Blood’ itself for example - except not so much the neoclassical side of things sadly. The thrash flirtations of recent predecessors is pared back, whilst the melody continues to spear through the relentless riffing
As the first solo on first track ‘Waste Of Skin’ makes plain Children of Bodom’s technical mastery is once again not hiding under a rock. In fact the halo of blood might just be what is left behind as bedroom guitarist’s heads explode as they try to keep up with Alexi and Roope’s shredding. When it comes to guitar work Children Of Bodom have never been shy, and whilst some may feel they are just showing off after a time, if you were able to crap out perfect animal shapes of gold say then you might want to show everyone once in a while.
It’s not all the same though as Children of Bodom continue to try different things - with varying degrees of success. ‘Scream For Silence’ is a slowed-down groovier number, and normally I’d say slow in the Children Of Bodom context which would mean it still outpaces lightning at times, but even for them this is laidback. What comes out of nowhere is ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’ which opens with a bleak melody and a flat spoken word intro from Alexi. There’s never been anything like it in their career to date, and it’s fantastic. Slow in a different atmosphere-building way, it manages to crush and soothe at the same time. Fuck causing a ‘lull in pace’ or any of that bollocks, this is one song where once it finishes you’ll want to skip back to the start just to be sure you heard what you did.
Whilst Halo Of Blood is clearly the best thing Children Of Bodom have done in a while, what it doesn’t do is feel essential. There’s not a ‘bad’ track there, but they’re not all great stand-outs - ‘Transference’ and ‘Damaged Beyond Repair’ do more than fill up space but they aren’t what you’d reach for if you were to introduce someone to Children Of Bodom. Still if you were one who felt their halo had slipped, it is the album to restore your faith.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs