I have an odd relationship with this band. On one hand I really like them and think that Alexi Laiho is an amazing guitar player. On the other, their songs have a tendency to sound the same and I hate that I can’t always understand what they’re saying without the aid of lyric sheets. So when I heard about this album I was expecting the tracks to sound similar to how they did in the past. For the most part this is the case, but there are some great songs where the band decides to change things up a bit and it really shows that they can and will expand beyond their horizons.
“Waste of Skin” is an intense and energetic opener to the album. It’s far from the best track here, but it’s decent enough. The booming drums during the intro sounds like soldiers marching during a rally; it has a really cool effect and tone. The music as always is kick ass and in your face, especially during the blazing guitar solo. Otherwise, nothing sticks out about this song. At the end there is some sample from what sounds like a movie and it caught me off guard because COB never really used that in music too much. In fact, they use samples in several of the songs here and it’s really unfitting for the band. It doesn’t add anything to the songs and it often kills the mood of the track.
Most of the songs here are pretty good, even if they’re not the best, but the weakest one on the album is the title track “Halo of Blood.” The music doesn’t sound that good, rather it sounds like every member is playing their instruments all at once while hitting the notes off key. When you throw in Alexi screaming over all of it begging to be heard, it just sounds like a mass confusion of useless noise. Things get better with the next track “Scream For Silence.” What stands out here is the slow, calming guitar riff. It’s more melodic than before and it’s not as harsh. Also, when you look at the lyrics this seems to be Alexi at his most vulnerable: “It’s a long way to the top of rock bottom/Bottoms up, lets drown my sorrow/If you need to feed on pain/you might as well tap my vein.” The slower songs are nothing new for the band, but this shows that the metal band has a softer side after all.
The best song on the album has to be “Transference.” Not only is it good because you can hear every element of the band, but because this guitar riff sticks with you. It doesn’t sound harsh or brutal like the previous riffs and it’s melodic. It sounds like an alarm ringing throughout the song. You can even understand what Alexi’s saying here (for the most part). While most of the songs are decent, tracks like “Bodom Blue Moon,” “All Twisted,” and “These Days Are Numbered” either sound too similar to their past stuff or don’t have enough about them to grab your attention. They’re really easy to tune out. While you might listen to them every once in a while, they’re just not memorable.
The album starts getting interesting during the songs where the band plays around with their sound. “Dead Man’s Hand” is the softest track on the record. It begins with a soft guitar riff and an almost pretty piano melody that plays along. Even Alexi’s vocals are softer as he almost whispers for the first half before breaking in to his standard howling. Though it sounds tragic, it’s an oddly calming track. “Damage Beyond Repair” has a heavy, intense groove to the riff that instantly wakes you up and makes you pay attention. There’s also some amazing energy here that pulls you further into the song.
Overall, the album gets 7/10. It’s not a terrible record, but it’s far from their greatest. While there are some great tracks here that stand out and stay with you long after the album is finished, not every song here is memorable. Most of the songs are either not too exciting or sound too similar to their previous material. It’s sure to please Bodom fans, but hopefully on their next release the band takes a cue from the better songs on the album and play around with their sound more in the future.