One of the more fascinating projects to be revived during everyone’s pandemic-induced free time, Darkwoods My Betrothed has returned with their first album since 1998’s Witch-Hunts. Angel of Carnage Unleashed (Napalm Records) sustains their old style for the most part, showing off a variant of Viking Black Metal with hearty Symphonic flourishes. Of course, it’s always interesting to see how time will toy with a preexisting formula, especially one that has gone undisturbed for twenty-three years.
Hopefully returning for 2021, Helsinki’s Tuska Festival is one of the greatest musical events in the world. Gojira has been added to the bill, joining other headliners Korn, Gojira, Deftones, Devin Townsend, Bodom After Midnight, Insomnium, Mokoma, Beast In Black, Symphony X, Eluveitie, Jinjer, Lost Society, Belzebubs, High On Fire, Perturbator, Oranssi Pazuzu, Vltimas, Gaahls Wyrd and more to be announced. Gojira returns, along with Korn and Deftones as headliners from the previously canceled 2020 event.
Wintersun kicked off a series of fifteenth-anniversary concerts last night in Finland, celebrating their self-titled album released on September 13th, 2004 via Nuclear Blast. Watch fan-filmed video of the band performing ‘Sadness and Hate’, ‘Starchild’, and ‘Storm’ right now!Continue reading
Long-running progressive metallers Amorphis are closing in on the release of their new album, Queen of Time, due out May 18th from Nuclear Blast Records. In this trailer exclusive to Ghost Cult, watch Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari discuss motorcycles and bike culture in their home country of Finland. Continue reading
HIM took to the internet today to announce that they are breaking up following the completion of a farewell tour later this year. Continue reading
At one time it really did look like Finland’s Sonata Arctica were ready to take their place at the head of the European Power Metal table and remain seated there for quite some time. Three albums of undisputed quality earned them big reviews and an army of long-haired fans with varied and amusingly peculiar accents. Continue reading
Many (other than hard-core Bodom fanboys) lovers of the melodic death scene, justifiably, have a kind of love/hate thing going on with Children of Bodom, but people denying that Something Wild (Spinefarm Records) and Follow the Reaper (Spinefarm/Nuclear Blast) are anything less than classics of the genre are being wilfully contrary, in some sort of weird sceptic denial, or simply being ignorant.
It is fair to say, however, that pretty much everything else after that became either self-plagiarising or pedestrian, replacing Bodom with Boredom as the sound has become ever more focussed on speed and regurgitation of the same old licks, riffs and hooks. The last two releases finally signalled some new directions, and I’m pleased to be able to tell you that Bodom’s latest offering I Worship Chaos (Nuclear Blast) continues that step up, though I don’t think they’ll ever match the straightforward brilliance of Follow the Reaper.
Finally ditching that dated, reedy, bee-in-a-box sound for something more modern and meaty provides instant aural novelty, but it’s not just the guitar sound that’s new here as a lot of growing up is reflected in this work. I think ego has been a huge problem for this band over the last decade – it has turned each release into either a competition speed-fest or a quick ‘n’ dirty excuse to get back out on the road – but this album feels painstaking and heartfelt. All the usual Bodom elements are here of course, but there’s a great deal of new (for Bodom, at least) ground broken.
‘I Hurt’ is a strong opener and a classic Bodom track, but the slower tempo and improved sound allows you deeper into the song and validates your reasons for liking Bodom in the first place. ‘My Bodom’ is a pretty simple, “less is more”, affair that’s all the stronger for it. ‘Morrigan’ is a big surprise, as it wouldn’t sound out of place (vocals aside) on a Blind Guardian album! The titular ‘I Worship Chaos’ is a shout-a-long crowd pleaser. ‘Hold Your Tongue’ is reminiscent of old In Flames and ‘All For Nothing’ could almost be a ballad if it had sing-song vocals. Lovely.
So all in all, I Worship Chaos is well worth an hour or so of your time and some of your hard-earned; a continuation of the return to form for Finland’s heroes.
“Unfortunately Roope and us, we went our separate ways” sighs Children of Bodom master of ceremonies, synths, spells and sonic illusions Janne Wirman as he contemplates the first change in the Finnish symphonic speed metal monsters line-up in over ten years and the departure of axeman Roope Latvala. “I think it matters to the fans too, to not have too many line-up changes” he states, clearly aware of the effect a change of personnel can have on a fan base and their loyalty to certain periods of a bands’ career. “There hasn’t been too many line-up changes ever, and we are a family and need to keep it that way. It was unfortunate what happened with Roope, and one of our strengths had always been that we keep a constant line up.”
Ninth album I Worship Chaos comes riding out of a blizzard on the back of 2013’s Halo Of Blood (both Nuclear Blast), a much vaunted firestorm of a return to form after the disappointments of their previous two releases Blooddrunk and Relentless Reckless Forever (Spinefarm). Darker in places, nonetheless …Chaos covers everything you’d want and expect from a Bodom release. “I think that sums it up. It’s a bit darker, but also catchier and more straightforward” Wirman agrees.
Changing the dynamic at this stage of the game, with a decade long stability broken against the backdrop of a band back on an upward curve, could have been a setback, but the timing of the change wasn’t one that adversely affected the Scandinavians. “(Roope leaving) was right around the end of the writing process, and fortunately the album had been written with two guitars as per normal.” It’s not unknown for one guitarist to record the majority of the part in other bands – indeed, James Hetfield and Scott Ian are known to record everything bar the solos in their not-insignificant bands – and Bodom had a ready-made replacement in mainman Alexi Laiho.
“It was not a problem – it meant Alexi played all the guitars in the studio, which was really not a problem for him because he can play both parts. It sounds crazy, but it wasn’t that different,” confirms Wirman. Seeing as the remaining four Children have been together since 1997, it’s no surprise that the change of second guitarist hasn’t derailed them in the slightest. And in terms of maintaining that family feel, Roope’s replacement was someone well known to the band. Or, at the very least, to the keyboard player.
“My brother, Antti, stepped in to help us with the live shows, because right after studio, we went on tour straight away.” confirms Wirman. “Luckily he had free time to join us for the summer and he is a great guitar player. I always felt he was one of the best ones in Finland, but he never landed a proper band. I’m so glad we’ve found someone within the family we all knew really well and it’s been a lot of fun. He’ll tour with us until the end of the year and then we are going to announce a new member for the band early next year.”
When we spoke about having to respect that which makes Children of Bodom distinctive, one of those elements is Wirman’s own role in the band. From the outset, the band has utilized keys as a lead instrument, and not just for ambience or to pad out a sound. Keys were treated with suspicion by some of the Guardians of Kvlt in the mid-90’s, but they’ve always been at the forefront of the Bodom sound.
“The keyboards are very crucial part of our trademark sound, especially with the early stuff. Then, the keyboards were really in your face and that helped set us apart and gave us a unique sound. Over the years we’ve experimented with things, sometimes we’ve had complaints that there are not enough keyboards on certain albums. I’m happy where we are at now with the sound; the new album sounds how it should sound keyboard-wise”. Including a sparring match between Wirman and Laiho. “That whole song, ‘All Or Nothing’, is pretty non-CoB-ish! But we decided it’s our ninth album, we can do what the fuck we want, so we put some weird-ass jam in there!”
Yet, playing keys in 2015 is a different beast to Wirman’s early days with the band. “It was very different when we started. We are so fucking old that our first 3 albums were recorded on tape, on DAT, and that was a huge pain in the ass!” he laughs. “You couldn’t do any of the quick fixes. With hard drive recording you can just hit undo if you fuck up something. Back then, you really had to know how to play, you had to practice whole passages and really, really nail them. I’m glad we’re that old we had to use the tape machines, because I would definitely be lesser of a musician if I didn’t have to do it that way.”
“I’m going to be producing a pop singers album”, Wirman continues, divulging that after recording the Bodom album at his own studio he is exploring his opportunities as a producer. “Then I’m recording an album for my brother’s new band. I love to do the studio and I’m hoping to do more work with that.
“But as much as love studio work, and I hope to do more of it when I have free time, for me the live, touring side of Children of Bodom is my main thing. We release albums to go back on tour. When the crowd is going mad, and you’re part of that, that’s the best thing!”
And as Wirman prepares for that rush of touring once again, what will the legacy of I Worship Chaos be? To those outside the band Halo Of Blood is hailed as the comeback album… What of its successor? “Maybe it’s an external feel, as it wasn’t quite like that for us. Though we keep hearing it; a lot of people are saying that Halo…was a comeback and this is a continuation. So, it must be true!” he laughs, with a modest tone in his voice.
“There is always pressure at this point in our career. You want to keep it fresh but not alienating all your fans, and have to keep all the key elements in there too. Judging by the feedback and the reviews, we have succeeded with this new album.”
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY