For all the mega-selling, stadium filling, world beating acts in the metal community like Slipknot heavy metal will never stop needing the mid-tier, old reliables such as Children of Bodom. Bands like Bodom are the lifeblood of our genre and, albums like ‘Halo of Blood’ are the lifeblood of these bands. However, don’t confuse the inevitability of a new Children of Bodom album as “going through the motions.” Halo of Blood is exactly where the shred-loving extreme metallers need to go in 2013 after the perhaps muted reaction to 2011’s ‘Relentless Reckless Forever.’
Much like its predecessor ‘Relentless Reckless…’ Halo of Blood definitely showcases a more mid-paced Bodom – far removed from the hyperactive speed of ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’ or ‘Follow the Reaper. What’s different though is that Laiho’s guitar work is reminiscent of black metal throughout the album, most noticeably on the bleak intensity of the main riff to ‘Waste of Skin’ but also during slower songs such as ‘Dead Man’s Hand on You’ – possibly the closest Bodom have ever got to a ballad. The subtle – and more overt uses of the genre’s distinctive style (see:’Waste of Skin’) help keep Bodom retain their razor sharp edge without repeating what has come before.
If there’s any criticism that can be made of Halo of Blood it’s the lack of versatility in Laiho’s vocal style. His gruff bark never really enhances the music in the manner vocals should, serving more as a distraction to the bands instrumentation rather than building upon it. It doesn’t ruin the album, and Laiho’s style slots in stylistically with some songs – especially aforementioned ‘Dead Man’s Hand on You’ but it does put a dampener on large sections of the album. However, chances are, an established fan will be used to Laiho’s vocals by the bands eighth studio album.
Regardless of Laiho’s vocals in ‘Halo of Blood’ Children of Bodom have certainly delivered. It might not be breaking any new ground musically but it infuses the traditional Bodom sound with a few new tricks – enough to make any long-term fan feel that they haven’t just bought ‘Hatebreeder’ again. This is exactly the album that Children of Bodom should be making in 2013.