Review: Children of Bodom – I Worship Chaos
Opening with a howling wind and white noise of a television struggling to activate, ‘I Hurt’ establishes a dreary horror element. Very quickly, the song kicks in with rhythmic guitars, eerie keys, and heavy drums. Singer/guitarist, Alexi Laiho shows his technical skills with quick harmonics and lead work, before breaking down into a heavy chug. The song quickly picks up the speed as Laiho unleashes his famous snarling vocals. Eventually, Laiho shows off his skills on the fretboard, but refrains from the wild solo that has made Bodom so famous. Regardless, the sheer heaviness, atmosphere, and rhythm make for an excellent opening track.
Chugging along with a heavy riff, ‘My Bodom (I am the Only One)’ is fast and heavy track that relies heavily on the keyboards to drive the atmosphere. The lead work is short but tight, yet something seems to missing for much of the song. Fortunately, an excellent keyboard solo is followed by a Bodom signature guitar solo ending the song on a high note.
Eerie keyboards are at the forefront of ‘Morrigan’ and for good reason – The Morrigan is the mythical spirit of war and strife. Chugging guitars and heavy drums and bass drive the song throughout, while the keyboards keep a consistent atmosphere. Laiho’s guitars are more melodic and the guitar solo has a clean groove that greatly shows his talent. A closer listen to the vocals, it is without a doubt that the lyrics are speaking of the Morrigan giving this early masterpiece a deep sense of mythical character.
A no-holds barred tune fit for moshing, ‘Horns’ is the fastest, heaviest track yet. The sheer speed of drummer, Jaska Raatikainen, is something to respect, for keeping up with the wild nature of Laiho’s guitars this time around is a challenge for even the most seasoned drummer. More than just a fast track, ‘Horns’ showcases the talent of the entire band, especially the guitar and keyboard duel between Laiho and Janne Wirman.
A dreary tune driven by haunting keyboards, ‘Prayer for the Afflicted’ is much slower and less heavy than anything presented thus far. The drums are more reserved and the bass mostly blends in with the guitars, yet provides much needed heaviness when Laiho turns his focus to higher pitch lead riffs, which are much more common on this track. The keyboards are mostly drowned out in the background, which is unfortunate, for the opening synths were a major draw. Despite these criticisms, the track features one of the best guitar solos on the album, once more showing the shredding power of Alexi Laiho. Regardless, ‘Prayer for the Afflicted’, while a good tune in its own right, is the weakest of the bunch thus far and somewhat depressing to listen to.
Bodom returns the album to the path of glory with the title track, ‘I Worship Chaos.’ A fast and riff driven tune with a trashy structure, powerful group chants, and a fantastic keyboard solo, this track thoroughly breaks the trance set upon the listener by ‘Prayer for the Afflicted’. Strangely, it lacks a guitar solo, but even without, this song is one of the albums gems.
Seven songs in, Children of Bodom has certainly has established a formula for the album. But even while following a formula consisting of fast and heavy rhythm and atmospheric keyboards, Bodom manages to mix it up from time to time. That being said, ‘Hold Your Tongue’ is brimming with attitude. Laiho’s famous “tell it like it is, give a shit” attitude shows through his lyrics, while his guitarwork breaks the mold with extra emphasis on harmonics and melody. Once more, he and Wirman impress with a solo on their respective instruments, but Laiho takes the win with yet another impressive showing of his skills, especially while continuing to shred while singing toward the end.
Starting fast and melodic before going for sheer heaviness, ‘Suicide Bomber’ is strangely one of the more melodic tunes on the album. Considering the name, one would expect this to be one of heaviest with a much more brutal death metal approach. Instead, Bodom gives listeners a mix of heavy distortion and melody at a mid tempo. Once more, Wirman gives us a keyboard solo, but it’s become somewhat redundant, but still plays well to the rest of the track. As for the guitar solo, while it’s expected to be a wild showing of fret shredding skill, it has a very structured feel. Though there’s nothing wrong with this track, it’s something of a letdown for reasons already specified.
As the name would imply ‘All for Nothing’ is another melancholy tune. Laiho speaks in a harsh whisper early on giving a downtrodden feel early on. Slower than most tracks, it’s also lighter too. More emphasis is placed on the Wirman’s piano, while Laiho’s lyrics and vocal delivery give a feeling of frustration. This feeling is amplified by suddenly heavily distorted guitars and rumbling bass drums as Laiho seemingly rants at the listener midway through. The distortion soon dials back eventually giving way to one of Laiho’s most passionate solos that appropriately duels with Wirman’s keyboards providing for one of, if not, the best guitar/keyboard duel on the entire album.
As the old saying goes, you should always save the best for last, and Children of Bodom does just that with ‘Widdershins’. Holding nothing back, the band kicks off the finale with a fast and heavy delivery. Before long, Laiho bursts into yet another shredding solo. When he comes out, the keyboards take more prominence before taking full control with an atmospheric quality that gives the song an almost angelic quality. A breakdown quickly returns things to the heavy formula and once more Laiho unleashes his inner demons on the guitar, dueling with Wirman toward the middle of the song. About two-thirds in, the guitar becomes heavier than ever before with a chugging riff and technical lead guitar work before fading into that scratchy white noise effect that opened the album. The white noise soon takes complete control, slowly fading to silence and putting the album to rest.
After listening through Children of Bodom’s ‘I Worship Chaos’ numerous times, one thing is certain – this is one of the best Bodom albums since Hate Crew Death Roll. Despite being down a guitarist for the first time in their recording career, Children of Bodom managed to deliver an incredibly powerful record that will more than likely satisfy fans hungry for something fresh, yet familiar, while attract a wider array of metal fans as well. As usual, we don’t give our scores lightly. These guys earned it all the way! 9/10