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Album number nine for Finnish virtuoso metallers Children of Bodom has arrived in the form of 'I Worship Chaos'. One noticeable change with Bodom's music this time around is the emphasis on guitars in the mix. Apart from some occasional solo widdling and down-tempo piano-esque parts, Janne Wirman's keyboards frequently take a back seat to pave the way for a heavier dynamic. And we're not talking a Newsted/'And Justice for All' mixing travesty here; rather, the underplayed (literally) keyboards seems to be a deliberate choice. They can often be heard as a thin sonic layer that mildly accentuates songs' moods, but it certainly doesn't dictate them. Oh no. This is probably Bodom at their heaviest; 'I Worship Chaos' is, primarily, a guitar driven album, and one that is, at times, a crushingly heavy exercise in virtuosic metal... the dropped-D tuning obviously helps give it a heavier edge too. Ironically, I guess, it's also one of their least incisive albums, production-wise, as it has a discernible raw edge. And that works a treat, to be honest, as nothing sounds too over-thought; least of all, the production. Songs have a very natural flow with more of an in-your-face immediacy that, some would say, has been lacking in Bodom's sound for some time. Don't get me wrong, the production is fantastic; it's more a case that it's not been marred in any way by too much polish.

Part of the guitar-biased dynamic and its heavily monolithic essence might be due to frontman Alexi Laiho performing all guitars himself, following the departure of Roope Latvala. Obviously, it's a production decision too, as was the band's choice of recording location, in Danger Johnny Studios... I understand that the perennially busy Peter Tägtgren wasn't available this time around, a man whose work in his famed The Abyss studio has been quite wondrous over the years, for both his own bands and others, including Bodom's previous full-length studio effort, 'Halo of Blood'. However, the Finns' choice of producer and location has evidently been a wise one, as the entire record, as already noted, sounds great. Bizarrely, there's even a passage of music that carries a vibe of Hypocrisy - prominently so on the chorus to 'Morrigan', which explodes into a crescendo of instrumentally layered grandeur ā la Tägtgren's day job band. Coincidence? I'm sure it is, although maybe working with the Hypocrisy mainman in the past has had a degree of impact on their approach.

While there's enough virtuosic widdle to satisfy the Bodom aficionado, the down-tempo tunes on 'I Worship Chaos' shine with a lot more compositional prowess than many of their previous slower-paced songs. Previously, the band's down-tempo tracks have been criticised as sounding merely like Bodom's speedier numbers slowed down. However, 'All For Nothing' actually sounds like it's been skilfully composed with a greater degree of consideration for its slower paced structure, as do 'Prayer for the Afflicted' and mid-tempo effort 'Morrigan'. And, of course, a CoB album wouldn't be complete without a Bodom-themed song title which, this time, has been named 'My Bodom (I Am The Only One)'... although 'Bodom Beach Terror' will always remain a firm favourite of mine, for the sheer titular ludicrousness that makes it sound like the name of a cheesy 60s B-movie. Overall, 'I Worship Chaos' is certainly not up there with Bodom's best work, although it comes incredibly close.
Nuclear Blast
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd Oct 2015
1) I Hurt
2) My Bodom (I am The Only One)
3) Morrigan
4) Horns
5) Prayer for the Afflicted
6) I Worship Chaos
7) Hold Your Tongue
8) Suicide Bomber
9) All For Nothing
10) Widdershins
"This is probably Bodom at their heaviest; 'I Worship Chaos' is, primarily, a guitar driven album, and one that is, at times, a crushingly heavy exercise in virtuosic metal..."