Children of Bodom - I Worship Chaos Review
by Matt Hensch
"I Worship Chaos" offered me the unique opportunity to rediscover Children of Bodom. I adored Children of Bodom when I was sixteen, but then I, you know, learned to drive, finally touched a boob, and so on. I hadn't bothered listening to what Alexi Laiho and the Bodom boys were up to since they buckled beneath the sheer awfulness of "Are you Dead Yet?" and then somehow managed to drop the bar even lower on "Blooddrunk," which was, for me, my last trip to the sauna. But things do change, and I reasoned little harm could come from retesting the waters of a band whose style of metal was really enticing and original back when it hadn't had its stupidity proudly tattooed on its forehead. I jumped into "I Worship Chaos" with a newfound 'tabula rasa,' a blank slate for Children of Bodom to load up with something wild.
Well, they loaded it up with something, that's for sure. After listening to this a decent number of times, I bit the bullet and refaced "Blooddrunk" and "Are you Dead Yet?" to help me compare and contrast: "I Worship Chaos" is certainly the superior album in every regard next to those aforementioned dumps. It feels like a more comprehensive product from Children of Bodom, although calling it passable or even halfway decent is a wide stretch. "I Worship Chaos," digging into the meat and potatoes here, conjures an incongruous glimpse of the bedlam Children of Bodom allegedly praises; it is an unadventurous, wishy-washy product from a band that should have access to numerous creative tools and approaches. Children of Bodom is essentially a Gordon Ramsay who refuses to cook anything but hot pockets.
I've found it difficult to pigeonhole Children of Bodom's sound, despite their using customs of this and knacks for that. This ends up giving "I Worship Chaos" room to feel out the depth of the group's artistic reach; it just so happens their ventures aren't worthwhile. The melodic death stomps of "I Hurt" and the title track are almost on another planet compared to the atmospheric undertones and careful arrangements of "All for Nothing" and "Prayer for the Afflicted." The former group shows Children of Bodom throwing a musical tantrum, stomping around simple, angst-ridden grooves and bits that sound juvenile and tedious; the latter excavates some meaningful songwriting sections, although they are far from perfect. A serious issue is the band's inability to write compelling riffs. "Widdershins" and "Suicide Bomber" have alluring keyboard measures and attractive shredding elements, but the foundation is soiled right off the bat by vapid guitar work which only manages to hook once in a blue moon.
The shred-happy soloing guitars and keyboards are what end up saving "I Worship Chaos" from total drought. It's quite a marvel to hear the tradeoffs and raucous leads thrown everywhere, but the fact that they eclipse a whole album of material speaks volumes of the low quality used seemingly just to facilitate instrumental acrobatics. Laiho's vocals are the factor that hammered in the nail to make this just a mild, harmless listen. The man sounds like complete and utter ass, my god. His growls or shrieks or whatever they are come off as strained and forced, not to mention he spits out F-bombs as though contractually obliged to shroud the album in the everlasting presence of his inner douche. Laiho's voice hovering over the Children of Bodom shenanigans sums up "I Worship Chaos" perfectly: Dull, underwhelming, and a trifle annoying.
Children of Bodom - I Worship Chaos
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