Children of Bodom: Hate Crew Deathroll

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Children of Bodom: Hate Crew Deathroll
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Children of Bodom: Hate Crew Deathroll
Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal
Century Media Records
January 7th, 2003
Release length: 39:52
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Children of Bodom‘s fourth full-length effort was the release that really put the band on map, and fans of Metal on notice. While Follow the Reaper is still considered one of their finest albums and really helped to push their career, the truly raw aggression of Hate Crew Deathroll made many people realize that this group had grown a lot throughout the years and was primed and ready to play with the big boys. But, was this effort really the band’s shining moment, or is all of that just the momentum following their previous effort?

The production of this release is definitely a little clearer with some heavy guitar distortion used to give it a bit of a thick or muddy sound. The bass is pretty dominant in the mix too, which just adds to the overall heaviness, taking the razor sharp guitars and adding a blunt layer to bludgeon you with while tearing away at your skin. The keyboards can be pretty loud in the mix, which is obvious right from the start on “Needled 24/7”, and the drum kit has a loud thud to the kicks, and the snares and cymbols are at about the same level but still ring through strongly over the other instruments. And, of course the rhaspier screaming vocals are present, but with this release there feels to be a little more range in the performance, as well as energy, which is a welcome addition. That energy can still be felt in the instruments as well, which is one of the key elements of the success of this release, and you can tell the band was even having some fun with this one such as the awkward deep voice during the end of the chorus that chimes in simply to say “pounder” during “Sixpounder”.

With a strong, aggressive, and energetic start, Hate Crew Deathroll goes right for the juggular and simply doesn’t miss. The first two songs show exactly what the band wants to happen with this release, and that they can do it well. The music blends a stronger amount of Melodic Death Metal with some catchier Power Metal hooks here and there, though some tracks like “Chokehold (Cocked’n’Loaded)” do have a stronger Power Metal approach to them. The keyboards also stick to only really being performed when necessary, and that’s where “Chokehold (Cocked’n’Loaded)” really introduces them since the first two songs don’t really rely on them as heavily to enrich the music. This is one of the fewer tracks where they become the main focus, and while they are a great addition, it’s also fantastic that they are not used as a crutch like some bands would do, as well as when used often give off a decent amount of varying sounds. You have the almost glistening, water-like sound that appears on “Needled 24/7”, and a more gothic sounding approach on “Bodom Beach Terror” with the more epic sounding notes and sound the band has stuck with coming into play on this track and many others here to give it that stylish sound that works well with the cleaner production quality of the release.

Of course the band is not limiting the album to fast paced fits of aggression and attitude. Sure these tracks are full of energy and highly infectious because of those elements, like the aforementioned “Needled 24/7” and the lead single “You’re Better Off Dead” with it’s more rebellious attitude and simpler sound that becomes instantly catchy thanks to it pretty blunt lyrical meaning, leaving the song to essentially be more of a warcry then anything. However, one of the band’s strongest tracks off this effort is the colder, slower paced “Angels Don’t Kill” that feels more geared towards being a Horror movie themed track then anything. The keyboard really add to that overall atmosphere of a horrific event playing out with keyboards that sound glistening and at times can be taken more like a child’s toy playing random notes. The song’s music is nothing all that special, and really it’s the atmosphere of the song and some of the more larger and heavier moments of the track that really make this song stand out. The only thing about this track is that you’re going to either love it or hate it. Unfortunately this is the only slow song on the mix, and the album does end with a more highspeed approach, though the closing track “Hate Crew Deathroll” is more of a commanding mid-tempo track with plenty of gang chants and some catchy hooks for the chorus, making it a strong track, though not really the best off the release. It also leaves the listener feeling rather let down considering there is a large lack of keyboard solos on this effort, but still a great deal of enjoyable guitar solos that fit the atmosphere of the album.

Overall, Hate Crew Deathroll really is a step in the right direction for the group, though the lack of any kind of keyboard solos on here is a bit disheartening given the talent that the keyboards show on this release. Other then that, the only song that may not be liked is “Angels Don’t Kill”, which again is a hit or miss track, but clearly has been a favorite for many fans and to this day is still played live. Children of Bodom do put together a strong release that lives up to the hype well, and any fan of the band who doesn’t already own this pinnacle effort from the band really needs to pick it up the next chance they get. It’s raw, it’s aggressive, it’s rebellious, and at the same time has plenty of songs with lyrics that you want to shout at people but probably can’t, such as “You’re Better Off Dead”, and in the end you’ll feel satisfied and ready to go back to this energetic assault once more.

01. Needled 24/7 – 4:09
02. Sixpounder – 3:24
03. Chokehold (Cocked’n’Loaded) – 4:32
04. Bodom Beach Terror – 4:35
05. Angels Don’t Kill – 5:14
06. Triple Corpse Hammerblow – 4:07
07. You’re Better Off Dead – 4:11
08. Lil’ Bloodred Ridin’ Hood – 3:25
09. Hate Crew Deathroll – 6:38
Overall Score: 9/10
Children of Bodom (Band)
Children of Bodom (Logo)
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.