Fully 20 years into the tough, heroic grind that represents the lifeblood of extreme musicians, Finland metal scientists Children of Bodom have certainly won over crowds globally through a crafted alloy that is theirs alone. But the building of their esteemed career has also been aided an abetted by the simple math of all that work, the intense touring, that inevitable return visit to your town that has made the band’s shows engaging, personable and energetic thrash parties indelibly stamped on the circuit boards of headbangers worldwide.
The party continues, with the release of the band’s ninth album, I Worship Chaos, which finds guitar hero for a new generation Alexi Lahio recording for the first time in a four-piece configuration (along with Janne, Jaska and Henkka), given the sudden and recent departure of long-time co-guitarist Roope Latvala from the ranks.
Which has lent the band a forced but fortuitous sense of focus, says Alexi: “It was hard because we’ve never been the kind of a band who changes members every other week. So all of a sudden you are one family member short. I was obviously on double duty, because I had to record all the guitars. But I didn’t even care, man; we just went and got everything done. And I think us parting ways with him has made us strive and pull together as a group, which was a beautiful thing, really. Because it felt like we were teenagers again making our first album. Plus it made the guitars tighter. It’s not like I’m talking shit about Roope or anything, but it’s just a scientific fact that if there’s one guy playing everything, it tends to get tighter. And I’m definitely happy with the result.”
If there’s an increased level of heaviness rippling and rifling through I Worship Chaos, it might be because the album is constructed with guitars that are tuned a half step lower. Hence tracks like blackened thrashers “Horns” and “Suicide Bomber,” as well as the rhythmically sophisticated “My Bodom (I Am the Only One)” reverberate with bottom end from both bass and guitar, even if keyboards and the band’s modern approach to drum mix fight to uphold Children of Bodom’s celebrated sense of cut, clarity and agility.
All told, says Alexi, “The mission will always be to get as heavy as possible, but also try to improve as musicians and as songwriters. Honestly, this is the strongest COB album in a long, long fucking time. We just wanted to change things up a bit. I think the album has a darker vibe than the previous ones, especially Halo of Blood—it is definitely heavier, as well as darker as far as the melodies go. It’s got a lot of sadness and hurt and anger in it. Which sounds like, hey, what else is new? But it really is different (laughs).”
The Skyclad-meets-Dark Tranquillity of “Morrigan,” with its expert synthesis between keyboards and mid-paced riff, with its thump and near swing feel, is sure to stand out as one of the magic stadium rock moments of the entire Children of Bodom catalogue.