The last several years has seen my interest in Finland's biggest musical export dwindle significantly. The band still killed it live, but "Are You Dead Yet?" and "Blooddrunk" never really struck me as anything special. Both were decent albums in their own right, but lacked the passion and fire that permeated from their early releases. I'm not even going to dignify the cover album with a comment. Strike it up to complacency in the wake of commercial success if you like, but I had really grown bored with CHILDREN OF BODOM.
It's quite possible that the band felt the same way as "Relentless, Reckless Forever" delivers some seriously fueled moments. While not as shred-laden as many COB might have been hoping for, "Relentless, Reckless Forever" still offers plenty of excuses to throw your fist in the air and bang away with reckless abandon. The disc's first and hardest-hitting track, "Not My Funeral", provides hope that the band who slaughtered us all with a tune like "Needled 24/7" was back. Vicious hooks, energized and melodic riffing and Alexi Laiho soloing his vodka-swilling ass off. My initial thought was that we had something stellar on our hands. "Shovel Knockout" brought more of the same fury with a heavy dose of proggy keyboards tossed in for good measure. "Roundtrip To Hell and Back" slows the pace down a bit, allowing the keys dictate the mood while the guitars spend much of the time resting comfortably in a tempered thrash groove. It's right about the time when the ridiculously titled "Pussyfoot Miss Suicide" rolls around that the fire beings to die out a bit. The quality of the songs doesn't really decrease, but the inspiration behind them certainly does as said tune, the title track and "Cry Of The Nihilist" all struck me as paint-by-the-numbers heavy rock disguised as melodic thrash. All three struck me as solid tunes that leave no real lasting impression. Thankfully "Ugly" rips a hole through the album's midsection a razor-edged flurry of speedy guitars, double bass and venomous vocals. After so many hit-and-miss, it was nice to have the album close out with a pair of ear-pleasers. "Was It Worth It?" certainly was given some of the alternatives this album has to offer and "Northpole Throwdown" (a topical ode to global warming or theme song to Santa's WWE debut? You be the judge.) is every bit the flamethrower that the first track was.
Far from their best effort ever, "Relentless, Reckless Forever" is undoubtedly the best CHILDREN OF BODOM have given us in quite some time. I highly doubt this will ever be ranked up there with "Hatebreeder" or "Hate Crew Deathroll", but it a huge step in that direction and one that they've needed to take for awhile now.