For the most part, CHILDREN OF BODOM has been given liberty to tool and tinker with their sound by their fans. Not everyone's a fan of the radical changes Alexi Laiho and his Finnish blast pack took on "Are You Dead Yet?", "Blooddrunk" and even their metal-mashed covers album "Skeletons in the Closet", yet CHILDREN OF BODOM hasn't suffered mass rejection as a result. Almost as a reward for their fans' loyalty, the band resurrects their early year principles of blazing fast, riff-hungry jams on the new album "Halo of Blood", while retaining some of their more recent script-altering approaches toward pure rock and power metal.
Melodic undercurrents have always been a part of CHILDREN OF BODOM's "Melodeth" m.o. which they attempted to capitalize during the "Are You Dead Yet?" and "Blooddrunk" era. There's so much heaviness and intensity spread throughout "Halo of Blood" that the conjoiner of this explorative period to the group's volatile seeds of creation on "Something Wild", "Hatebreeder" and "Follow the Reaper" sires one monster of an album here.
The opening numbers "Waste of Skin" and the title track come out throttling with systematic aggression, ripping guitars, flailing velocity and gory shrieks from Alexi Laiho. The title track drives back into CHILDREN OF BODOM's black metal roots with fearsome grind patterns from drummer Jaska Raatikainen and dizzying riffs by Laiho, Roope Latvala and Henkka "Blacksmith" Seppala. "Your Days Are Numbered" is a grand exploitation of double hammer marches and brutal propulsion. "All Twisted" flies on thrusting cylinders with a few tempo variations and whirling keys from Janne "Warman" Wirman, who weaves a majestic synth solo to lead into the quickly-issued but punishing guitar lead. "One Bottle and a Knee Deep" refines a sharp merge between thrash and power metal that doesn't lose an ounce of strength. The banging verses are mosh friendly, while the trip hammers guiding the bridges and tapping choruses are shrewdly incorporated between the nearly-incessant force of the song's thrash parts.
When "Halo of Blood" slows down, it's either focusing upon stamping power lines (i.e. "Transference", "Damaged Beyond Repair" and the constantly shifty "Bodom Blue Moon") or gloomy dirge ballads like "Scream for Silence" and "Dead Man's Hand On You", which maintain dense heaviness and throat-scraped projectiles from Alexi Laiho. Laiho serves up "Dead Man's Hand On You" with a low-pitched quasi scat that establishes a creepy nuance to an expected creepy overtone sifted out of the song.
By presenting their listeners the best tones they've uncorked over the course of their career, CHILDREN OF BODOM calibrates their already extraordinary chops. Despite some of "Halo of Blood"'s dark overtones, the band sounds like they're having a party instead of forcing their hand to broaden themselves. By attrition, the seasoned CHILDREN OF BODOM listener will easily glue onto "Halo of Blood"'s violent cadences and swarming virtuosity. If death metal can be considered a pleasure pill, "Halo of Blood" is headbanging nitric oxide.