When I heard that Children Of Bodom was putting out a new record, I was both excited and hesitant at the same time. The guys in the Hatecrew seemed to be treading the all-too-familiar path of the metal band who at one point was the best the genre had to offer, but had since slipped into a downward spiral of mediocrity and poor songwriting, only to put out merely generic metal/rock (see In Flames, Shadows Fall, Megadeth, Annihilator... the list goes on). Their previous, industrial-tinged effort Are You Dead Yet? seemed to be a sure indicator of this status to many fans, myself included. The first single I heard, Tie My Rope, served only to support this belief.
Alexi was quoted as saying that the record would be "thrashier" and have a faster pace to it, a statement which I initially dismissed as the usual "return to their roots" sentiment that many bands seem to be throwing around these days in an effort to get fans back. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the diminutive frontman's words were more accurate than not.
Follow The Reaper (or any of their first three releases for that matter) this is not. However, Bodom's sixth record is certainly a step in the right direction. Most of the mid-paced, half-thrash riffery from the previous album is largely gone. Indeed, Blooddrunk has many of the better elements of their previous releases. There are passages that certainly elicit comparisons to say, Follow The Reaper, but this one errs closest sonically to Hate Crew Deathroll, which in my opinion was a catchy, if unremarkable, modern Bodom album.
What has separated Children of Bodom, among other things, from their contemporaries is their use of keyboards and melody interspersed throughout the aggressiveness. The keyboards have not been featured this prominently since Hatebreeder, and certainly more so than on Are You Dead Yet?. The keys have largely retaken their proper place as an instrument that carries a melody rather than one merely relegated to industrial accents and ambiance. My only complaint is that they frequently tend to have this sort of faux folky, "electric fiddle" sound; not one used in a tasteful, neoclassical way as per their first two records.
Not much can be said about the other instruments, frankly. If you've listened to any other Bodom record, you're going to hear largely more of the same. The rhythm playing is fairly standard Bodom fair that is definitely much more biting and aggressive, getting out of the half-thrash territory they were plodding in. The leads and solos are, as always, excellent. Even at their worst, Alexi has never failed to write catchy, flashy runs and solos that, along with Janne's keyboards, have always been the main attraction. He doesn't fail to please, having some great interplay with the keyboards and reverting back to his speed metal prowess that he seemed to be lacking prior.
The vocals have largely remained unchanged from Hate Crew Deathroll onward, which remains the case on this release. Alexi has reached a good medium of harshness and the ability to be understood. The drums, as usual, are fairly standard and fit the music, but are nothing noteworthy. I won't even mention the bass, as like most more aggressive metal, is virtually inaudible.
The rest of the Bodom trademarks you would come to expect are firmly intact. Alexi's now signature "Oh yay-yea!" is present, along with the usual "gang-shout" sections heard during choruses and certain other bridge sections. The goofy song titles which have been present since Hate Crew Deathroll still linger, with gems like Roadkill Morning and Smile Pretty For The Devil.
My hopes for this record were not particularly high, and I was honestly expecting another one in the vein of Are You Dead Yet?, if not worse. This may not be a return to their former creative prowess, but it is certainly much better than their last effort and harks back to classic Bodom at certain times. Unoriginal as the formula may be by now, Blooddrunk still sees the guys putting out a better-than-average release, with Alexi and Janne's guitar and keyboard virtuosity as delicious and hooky as ever.