CHILDREN OF BODOM — Hatebreeder (review)

CHILDREN OF BODOM — Hatebreeder album cover Album · 1999 · Melodic Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
CHILDREN OF BODOM caught the metal off guard by doing the unthinkable of mixing neoclassical power metal with elements of death metal, thrash metal and even atmospheric black metal with its debut “Something Wild.” The band found its own distinct sound right out of the gate and one that would launch the band as one of Finland’s greatest metal sensations having topped the charts with four albums in a row but that would come later. At this stage in 1999, bandleader / guitarist / lead vocalist Alexi Laiho was still nurturing that perfect stylistic fusion that wouldn’t totally gel until the band’s third album “Follow The Reaper,” however this sophomore effort HATEBREEDER ramped up the energetic level a bit as well as brought he Mozart inspired neoclassical shredding closer to the forefront.

Originally this album was supposed to be titled “Toward Dead End” but midway through the recording process that began in 1998, the band members decided the title should be changed and the winner was HATEBREEDER which continued the band’s career long tradition of featuring the Grim Reaper on the album cover with a different primary color schematic in this case the distinct green background. The band released the single “Downfall” two weeks before the album’s release which hit #1 on the Finnish charts and propelled the album to gold status in the band’s homeland but at this point CHILDREN OF BODOM hadn’t quite become the international sensation that it would become despite touring with bands like Dimmu Borgir in support of the debut.

HATEBREEDER pretty much followed in the footsteps of “Something Wild” only with more attention to the neoclassical Mozart inspired melodies along with faster tempos, heavier metal rampage and an increased focus on the technical shredding tradeoffs of Laiho’s guitar and Janne Wirman’s keyboard heft. The album was also praised for the unique vocal style that could be described as existing somewhere between the guttural growls of death metal and the raspiness of black metal. The vocals in tandem with the primary power metal style infused with elements form many metal subgenera continued CHILDREN OF BODOM’s unique format that would bring them into the international limelight as the millennial odometer geared closer to a new century.

While CHILDREN OF BODOM’s style is pretty much present on all their releases, it’s all about the subtleties that differentiate them. HATEBREEDER provides a transition where the neoclassical elements would become more prominent although not as in your face as they would become starting with “Follow The Reaper.” The beauty of CHILDREN OF BODOM is that the band caught the melodic vitality of 80s heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest only with the power metal heft of bands like Helloween and Iced Earth along with the darker elements of the more extreme corner of the metal world in both atmosphere and thematic presentation. Overall HATEBREEDER is an excellent consistent flow of one satisfying energetic track after another that features some of WIrman’s most unique keyboard contributions, a trait that would only amplify on subsequent releases.
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