Children of Bodom – Reckless, Reckless, Forever

  • Cole Faulkner posted
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Children of Bodom

Reckless, Reckless, Forever - Spinefarm Music

Children Of Bodom is one of those Finnish metal bands that have a huge international following, have been around for nearly twenty years, and even hit the US charts from time to time, yet they still don’t get a lot of press outside of their niche.  While I don’t claim to be terribly knowledgeable in the field, I had never crossed paths with the sextet until their recent full length, Reckless, Reckless Forever.  My first impression was that of a melodic 90’s metal band (as it turns out, they started in 1993) with some growly, thrashy vocals, and quick fingers just itching for the next solo.  While that sounds good on paper, the band is a little heavy on the 90’s influence, and actually comes across like a cheesy soundtrack to a Super Nintendo game.

Hear me out.

The 90’s were characterized by what I like to call the “totally awesome effect,” or something’s worth being measured by how many descriptors sound as if they’re from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  Cartoon characters said “tubular” and “bodacious,” and even in their primitive state, video games tried emulating rip roaring metal solos with their 16-bit soundtracks.  That’s the scene Children Of Bodom fits with most.  Those old enough to remember waking up on Saturday morning to the fight montages of Street Sharks, Cadillacs And Dinosaurs, Biker Mice From Mars, and afternoons spent playing Battletoads know what I’m talking about.  In other words Reckless, Reckless Forever sounds more like a TV show’s attempt to emulate a metal band than a genuine metal band.

That the band employs ample synth and soundboard effects only strengthens such comparisons.  For instance, the organ effect on “Round Trip To Hell & Back” opens like a midi track meshed withMegadeth’s growls, and “Ugly” could play during any stage of Castlevania.  The castle theme isn’t one inspired by Blind Guardian or Manowar, but can really only be compared with that particular ongoing side scroller franchise.  All of these comparisons aren’t to say that the band doesn’t have talent – the ending on the aforementioned “Round Trip To Hell & Back” is particularly intense, and “Ugly” contains some vicious speed metal – but at least in my case, for all their technical skill, the final product simply hits a strange chord.

Part of my problem with Children Of Bodom is that the base level sounds are rather formulaic, so when the eccentric solos hit, that’s really all I hear.  Alexi Laiho’s growl might be consistent, but it doesn’t provide much variation, and the guitar between solos lacks life.  But shortcomings aside, I still can’t get over how much I feel like I’m listing to 90’s cartoons or video game.  A lot of people will discredit this review based on my obvious bias, but I suspect quite few people with my background will know exactly what I’m talking about.  So at least for me, in the end I just can’t take an album seriously that brings mutant sharks and space frogs to mind…