By 2001, Finland's Children of Bodom were quickly solidifying their reputation as one of the leaders of the current crop of symphonic & melodic death metal bands, although in actuality COB's music has more in common with power and progressive metal, as evidenced by the grooves that lay within their release Follow the Reaper. Apart from the tortured screams from singer/lead guitarist Alexia Laiho, which fit firmly in the black/death metal style, this is heavy and energetic symphonic metal, filled with numerous times changes, hooks, and classical leanings.
The opening title track is like a trip down neo-classical lane, as Laiho's virtuoso shredding pairs with the classy keyboard work from Janne Warman. The two team up again on the classic "Bodom After Midnight", one of the bands most well-known songs. An intricate piece with crunchy rhythm guitar work from Alexander Kuoppala, wild trade-off solos from Laiho & Warman that will bring to mind vintage Rainbow, Rising Force, or Symphony X, plus plenty of catchy growls. The main melody theme of this tune is thoroughly addicting, thanks to the driving guitar work and melodic synths.
Other hot tracks, like the raging metal of "Everytime I Die", with its slowed down tempo and heaps of orchestral keys, the intricate prog-metal of "Mask of Sanity", or the grueling death metal plunge of "Taste of My Scythe", really hit the mark and tell a tale of a band that was riding a huge creative high. There's also plenty of thrash intensity roaming around this CD-simply listen to the manic riffing of "Kissing the Shadow" and "Hellion", two kick-ass numbers that close out the album, each complete with mind-numbing guitar solos from Laiho.
As heavy as Follow the Reaper is, the band would go for thicker and meaner riffs on their follow-up Hate Crew Deathroll, an album that proved to be a bit more straightforward than the more complex sounds contained here.
In summary-this is essential stuff for those who like adventurous metal.
1. Follow the Reaper
2. Bodom After Midnight
3. Children of Decadence
4. Everytime I Die
5. Mask of Sanity
6. Taste of My Scythe
7. Hate Me!
8. Northern Comfort
9. Kissing the Shadows