Deep in the dark streets of Helsinki, Finland, Children of Bodom are all geared up and ready to release their eighth studio album, Halo Of Blood. This new album is sure to reign as one of the top albums of the year and will include many firsts for the Finnish metal band. After a two-year wait since their previous album, their June release date cannot come fast enough and their fans will know it was worth the wait.
Children of Bodom has done nothing but release top-notch music since their start in 1997. The band is currently made up of Alexi Laiho (vocals, lead guitar) , Roope Latvala(rhythm guitar), Janne Wirman(keyboards), Henkka Seppala(bass), and Jaska Raatikainen(drums). They have received Gold certification in Finland on every album since their third album, Follow the Reaper and they have also graced the Billboard top 200 charts in North America and are sure to do the same with Halo Of Blood.
When it came to recording, this time around the band took a different approach to the process. Laiho explains, “we are actually used to recording in some secluded area… we usually go to the middle of the woods and just record in a log cabin.” This was in order to get away from any distractions and the bustle of their daily lives, however when it came to Halo Of Blood the boys decided to record at their rehearsal studio in their hometown of Helsinki, Finland.
“We wanted to record everything except for the drums at our rehearsal place… we had built a studio in there to do demos and then we just figured you know why not record the rest of the album there too.” Despite the distractions of “paying the bills or hanging out with their girlfriends” Laiho explains “that wasn’t the case… everybody was one hundred percent in on making the record.” When it came to song arrangement “all the members kind of spoke up as opposed to just two guys… all the guys threw in some ideas.”
Laiho himself also gave his fair share of one hundred percent, he made sure to take more time when it came to recording the vocals for Halo Of Blood, he explains “I just wanted to make them better really and have a less stressful vocal session,” this would pay off greatly in the end, but this was not the only reason for setting aside more time. Laiho goes on to say “I wanted to have more time to do vocal arrangements… I had recorded stuff with Peter Tägtgren and he was basically producing the vocals then and I knew that he was going to come up with a lot of ideas and I wanted him to. So we had a good ten days to do all that and with that schedule I could actually rest in between and rest my throat.” In the past the vocal session wasn’t such a walk in the park, Laiho explains “I would do vocals say six days and nights in a row and not sleeping at all.” Halo Of Blood benefited greatly from the time taken with the vocal sessions and over all “it was a fun vocal session” states Laiho. Recording with Tägtgren is nothing new to Children of Bodom “we had recorded with him before so we knew that it was going to work out.” Laiho goes on to state, “he just always comes up with ideas you know… I’m sure he had a big impact on the actual record.”
Halo of Blood had many firsts for Children Of Bodom, Laiho states “none of that stuff was planned before hand… the fact that we actually have the fastest and slowest songs in the history of the band on the same record… it just kind of turned out that way and it all came out very natural.” This dynamic takes the band to another level and made sure to challenge the band. Laiho mentions that songs “like Dead Mans Hand we never had a song like that before… so that song was very challenging for us to put together” he goes on to mention that “there are clean guitar riffs and piano and it is just so slow… it is really easy to fuck something like that up but I think we did a pretty good job though.”
Lyrically, Laiho touched on themes he had never touched on before. “For example, the title track, I wrote that for a friend of mine who died a little bit over a year ago and that basically gave me the inspiration to write about just other people in my life who had passed away.” Laiho had never written about this in the past and felt it was necessary to have something new on the album, “that was something that I had never really written about before so it was definitely something new and I thought it was a good thing to basically just have something new on the album.” The songs were “not written in any kind of obvious way though” states Laiho. However this theme is very evident in each song on Halo Of Blood. “I would say the majority of the songs actually came from that subject” explains Laiho.
Halo Of Blood, the title track, is a song with a lot of meaning behind it, which is understandably why it is one of Laiho’s favorite songs “some how that song had really just captured that super dark and cult vibe” explains Laiho. There is a lot more to the song however, as Laiho voices, “just the fact that it is just like a kick in the face when the song starts and that is something that I really want Children of Bodom to be about… that song is just one of the best if not the best song we have ever actually put out there.” Dead Man’s Hand was also a favorite of Laiho’s with its slower, melodic feel “it gives it a good dynamic and contrast between the songs.”
Songs such as Scream For Silence and Transference also had their own unique qualities. The writing process for Scream For Silence was nothing special at first “it was just one of the normal sessions where I was just sitting on my couch playing guitar and just waiting for an inspiration… sometimes it takes forever for me, and then all of a sudden I just come up with something” explains Laiho. The verse was the first thing written and “the riff was actually faster at first but then I slowed it down… it just sounded really cool and sounded super heavy and that is how it actually turned into a slower song or a mid tempo song.”
Transference also had a distinctive sound that gives off a very evil vibe that can be instantly heard. Laiho mentions “if I remember correctly that was one of the songs that I just had a hard time coming up with anything and I had been sitting the whole night.. it was definitely one of those long nights where I just felt like I had just completely hit a wall with writing and then all of a sudden you know I come up with that one, so sometimes it is just worth it to wait and wait until something comes out.” Transference was definitely worth this wait “it must have been like four or five AM when I came up with the main melody and the riff in the background” explains Laiho. Maybe it was this late night writing session that gave Transference it’s dark sinister sound that encompasses all that is Children of Bodom. There is no mystery as to why the band chose this to be their first single off of Halo Of Blood.
As always Children of Bodom will include their hilarious cover versions. “We have Cruel Summer by Bananarama and we have Sleeping In My Car by Roxette” states Laiho. Jeff Waters of Annihilator will also be doing a guest appearance on the Bananarama cover. “Originally he was supposed to play on the album, but I was already done writing the songs and all the solos were so well thought out” Laiho goes on to explain, “if he plays on a cover song he can shred throughout the whole song without holding back.” Laiho has yet to hear the final mix just yet but he did get to hear the “raw mix and I think it is going to be cool.. funny as hell at least.” Children of Bodom also went on to do a cover picked by their Japanese fans thanks to the Japanese magazine Burrn.
Halo Of Blood encompasses all that Children of Bodom are made up of and will undoubtedly be one of their top-selling albums. The band does a great job of contrasting between the difference in tempos, including their slowest and fastest songs in the history of the band. This album is something new for COB fans and will definitely be enjoyed. Be sure to pick it up in Europe June 7th, in the UK June 10th, and in North America on June 11th. As Laiho states “sometimes it is just worth it to wait.”