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Children of Bodom - "Relentless Reckless Forever" (CD)

Children of Bodom - "Relentless Reckless Forever" CD cover image

"Relentless Reckless Forever" track listing:

1. Not My Funeral (4:55)
2. Shovel Knockout (4:03)
3. Roundtrip to Hell and Back (3:48)
4. Pussyfoot Miss Suicide (4:10)
5. Relentless Reckless Forever (4:42)
6. Ugly (4:13)
7. Cry of the Nihilist (3:31)
8. Was It Worth It? (4:06)
9. Northpole Throwdown (2:55)

Reviewed by on March 10, 2011

"...everything is here for another strong Children of Bodom record, and 'Relentless Reckless Forever' certainly is that."

Your humble reviewer believes that 2003’s long-player “Hate Crew Deathroll” is Children of Bodom’s seminal moment, combining lumbering heaviness and wild abandon in equal parts, thusly exploding melodic extreme metal into a gaggle of imitators (some of whom are actually really good, so let’s not sell them short). In the eight years between “Hate Crew Deathroll” and “Relentless Reckless Forever,” Laiho and Co. have released two significantly-above-average-but-not-spectacular albums, “Are You Dead Yet” and “Blooddrunk.” So can everyone’s favorite wild child summon his inner muse (psychopath?) for Children of Bodom’s major label debut, or will “Relentless Reckless Forever” not quite reach the mountaintop?

To answer that question we have to (briefly) explore why “Hate Crew Deathroll” was so phenomenal and why the subsequent two albums weren’t quite as good – and it comes down to one simple thing: hooks. Every hook on every song on “Hate Crew Deathroll” is fired deep into our collective brains as if from a sniper rifle, lodged so deep only the devil’s surgeon could remove them, and never trading pop for heavy. “Are You Dead Yet” and “Blooddrunk” had their share of great hooks (the title tracks on both are deep sea fishing worthy), but there weren’t enough meaty hooks for the entire nine songs. “Relentless Reckless Forever” certainly has hooks, but like its two predecessors, they aren’t enough to snare the biggest fish.

The title track is a pounding, lumbering beast, but the layered guitar riff and keyboard line don’t quite mesh and we can’t get all fist pumpy and sing alongy excited like we did on “Bodom Beach Terror,” for example. “Ugly” shifts tempos and time signatures more smoothly than a rejected playboy, but even that makes it tough for us to bang along. All the elements are here for another strong Children of Bodom record, but they don’t quite work together to reach the majestic peaks that they once did.

And that’s the key point – everything is here for another strong Children of Bodom record, and “Relentless Reckless Forever” certainly is that. Laiho’s guitar easily sears the hair off our bums while Janne Warman’s keys range from casually elegant soundscapes to casually hot-like-the-sun flights of fancy. The playing from the entire group of five is tight, technical, and intense, and the nine songs range from mid-tempo sing-alongs (“Cry of the Nihilist,” “Not My Funeral”) to stop-start speed freakouts (“Ugly,” “Shovel Knockout”) and heavy crushers (the title track, “Was It Worth It?”). And as always, tongue is planted firmly in cheek.

So after breaking through heavy metal’s glass ceiling and getting signed to a major label, it is obvious that Children of Bodom has some extra financial backing for “Relentless Reckless Forever.” There’s lots of advertising, fancy digipaks, CD/DVD sets for the standard album price, and the band certainly has earned its standing as one of modern metal’s big names with consistent quality. “Relentless Reckless Forever” may not be the best Children of Bodom album ever, but while watching one of the live videos on the included DVD it becomes very clear that Laiho still sports a semi whenever he pulls on his whammy bar. And that’s totally cool, because we do too.

Highs: The interplay of Laiho’s guitar leads and Warman’s keyboard is often exhilarating.

Lows: The drumming seems to be a little less creative than on previous albums.

Bottom line: Children of Bodom delivers another excellent album in the band's major label debut.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)