Reviews for June 18th, 2013

Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood

Alexi and the lads, aka Children of Bodom, have returned with their eighth and latest album, “Halo of Blood.”

I’ve been a fan of Children of Bodom since the band’s first album was released in 1997, but I have to admit that I haven’t been as impressed with the albums that followed “Hate Crew Deathroll” in 2003. “Hate Crew” was the pinnacle of Bodom brilliance for me, and beginning with “Are You Dead Yet?” I felt like the band was distancing themselves from the sound I had come to love. “Blooddrunk” was a little better but still left me wanting.

“Relentless Reckless Forever” was a step forward in the right direction again and gave me hope that I would one day hear something to rival “Hate Crew.” Last week Children of Bodom released “Halo of Blood” and I was quite pleased with what I heard.

I would be a fool to hope for something that sounded like a re-tooling of “Hate Crew”, and I would also be left wanting. “Halo of Blood” does an excellent job of giving a nod to that earlier masterpiece, while also moving beyond into different territory. The opening track, “Waste of Skin” is pure “Hate Crew”-wild-melodic-abandon, and I love it. The rest of the album is less obviously “Hate Crew”-inspired, but there are moments.

One thing you can generally count on with Children of Bodom is that their songs are going to be fast, intense and more or less melodic while smacking you upside the head. Then they throw us a curveball with “Dead Man’s Hand on You.” This song is pretty slow and lethargic, and some of Alexi’s not-screeched vocals kind of remind me of Mustaine’s croaked vocals from “Dawn Patrol.” This is different, but also cool; I like it.

In this humble reviewer’s opinion, the Bodom Beast is back in fighting form and ready to tear the ass out of the metal world.

The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack

Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder has just released their sixth album, “Everblack.”

The Black Dahlia Murder, for reasons I can’t really explain, is one of those bands that I really only listen to when they have a new album out that needs reviewing. Based on the preceding statement alone, one could conclude that I don’t much care for the band, but honestly, that isn’t true. I actually think The Black Dahlia Murder is one of the top acts in their style.

But what would you call these guys? Melodic death metal? They kind of fit that label, I mean, their music is heavy like death, and also melodic. The production is quite good. And this sure as hell isn’t metalcore bullshit. So, yeah, melodic death metal seems the closest style I can shoe-horn these guys into, and that is a style that I am completely burned out on, so it isn’t a surprise I don’t reach for it for leisure-listening. Did I mention, though, that these guys are really good?

Ultimately, I have no good excuse for not paying more attention to TBDM. As I sit here taking in “Everblack” I am once again reminded that I need to listen to this band more. They’re even from my former home state of Michigan, how can I not support that?

Don’t be a George. Make sure to check out “Everblack”, because as usual, TBDM crushes.

White Wizzard – The Devil’s Cut

Pseudo-NWOBHM band White Wizzard have just released their third album, “The Devil’s Cut.”

White Wizzard is not exactly a band with a stable lineup. The band’s first two EPs featured James-Paul Luna (now of Holy Grail) on vocals, and I wasn’t all that impressed with the material. Next up on vocals we had Wyatt Anderson who sang on albums one and two, “Over the Top” and “Flying Tigers.” I absolutely loved “Over the Top” but was less than thrilled with “Flying Tigers.” Now, with album number three, we also see singer number three: Joseph Michael.

By now all this instability and wildly varied output quality should have me wanting to avoid White Wizzard like the plague. Rather like a train wreck, though, I can’t help but want to look and see what happens next.

One thing I can say with certainty is that Joseph Michael, like the guys who preceded him, has some great pipes. A very casual listener of the band might never realize there’s been changes in the vocal department.

I’m a big fan of this style of metal, so on one hand I am easily inclined toward liking this material. But on the other hand, I’m really put off with the constant change within this band; I need a few years of stability from these guys to start building up a rapport. If I come to hear that the next album has yet another singer, I’m done.

Taken out of context from the rest of the band’s catalog, “The Devil’s Cut” is a pretty decent album. If this was the only album from White Wizzard I would get behind the band and want to hear more. In a world where “Over the Top” exists, though, I’m still looking for the next “Iron Goddess of Vengeance.”