• One of the best splits ever by two metal icons - A review of Amorphis' and Children of Bodom's "Tales from Lake Bodom"

    Amorphis / Children of Bodom - Tales from Lake Bodom (2015)

    Two of Finland's most iconic metal bands join forces on this split record released with German metal magazine Legacy. Melodic death metal legend Children of Bodom promotes its new output I Worship Chaos while progressive metal icon Amorphis underlines the release of its Under the Red Cloud record. The former album is very good while the latter is even excellent and I can only recommend purchasing both. However, fans with smaller budgets get a good idea of the type of music these two bands represent while collectors get some rare and even exclusive material.

    ''Suicide Bomber'' is taken from Children of Bodom's I Worship Chaos release and presents the band's typical sound where melancholic instrumental sections dominated by mysterious keyboard sounds and longing guitar melodies meet faster passages with harsh vocals. The song is far from being outstanding but an appropriate introduction to the band. The song is good average overall but clearly the weakest track on this release. The live version of ''Halo of Blood'' was recorded live at Summer Breeze Open Air 2014 and is exclusive to this release. This live rendition has even more punch than the studio version and is one of the band's fastest and most sinister songs recalling melodic black metal soundscapes. This unusual song in its energizing version presents the harsh and serious side of the band very well. Children of Bodom has always been a band that has managed to cover tracks of numerous genres and make them sound like their own tunes which should be the purpose of any cover track. This is also the case with its version of Amorphis' ''Black Winter Day''. It keeps the melancholic and mysterious undertone of the original but adds some more dominant keyboard parts, faster rhythm sections and meaner lead vocals. This balanced approach should please to fans of both camps since the original track is treated with a lot of dignity, passion and thought. In the end, we get one average, one good and one great track by Children of Bodom as the split release just keeps getting better and better.

    Instead of offering a new track from its latest studio record, Amorphis kicks off its part of the split release with a rare bonus track from the Circle recording sessions called ''Illusion''. Aside of avid collectors, many people might not be familiar with this track yet. It's one of Amorphis' harsher tracks in recent memory. Tomi Joutsen's charismatic vocals vary from fierce black metal screams over thunderous death metal growls to powerful clean vocals and his diversified and inspired performance alone is already worth listening to the song. The middle section featuring keyboard and guitar solos shows off the band's melodic progressive metal side. Aside of these two elements, the song is rather unspectacular musically and can't keep the incredible high level of the regular Circle album. Amorphis' decision to keep this tune as a bonus track was the right one because it's clearly good enough for this purpose but not exactly up to the band's usual standards of excellence. It's a whole different thing for the live version of ''Hopeless Days'' which was the outstanding lead single from the Circle record. This rendition was recorded at the 2013 edition of the famous Loud Park Festival and the band's entire set has been included as a bonus disc on the limited Japanese edition of the Under the Red Cloud release. Since I own this version of the album, let me tell you that this concert is in fact the most powerful live release I have ever listened to and definitely worth your money. This particular song is an excellent representation of the band's incredible live shows. This version is so energizing that you just can't be still while listening to it. This song is obviously easily the best on this split release. Since Children of Bodom covered one of Amorphis' tracks, Amorphis also picked a Children of Bodom tune to reinvent and ''Every Time I Die'' is in fact exclusive to this release. Amorphis' version is a little bit slower, more melodic and even more atmospheric than the original tracks. Tomi Joutsen's death growls add some bleak majesty to the track which is underlined by progressive keyboard sounds recalling the charismatic organ sounds from the progressive rock scene of the seventies. Amorphis managed to make this song their own and I personally like this creative interpretation better than the original song which isn't among Children of Bodom's greatest moments in my opinion. In the end, Amorphis offer one good, one excellent and one very good tune on their part of this split release.

    In the end, this split release is highly recommendable for fans of both bands. The studio songs are at least solid, the cover versions are performed with genuine imagination, respect and skills and the vivid live tunes are actually the genuine highlights on here. These two bands complement each other perfectly and seem to have tons of respect for each other. This release proves once more that Finland is overall the greatest country for high-quality metal music in the world as even Barack Obama acknowledged. Get your hands on this beauty without any hesitation and let's cross our fingers for more future high-quality split releases by metal's most iconic groups.

    Final rating: 90%

    « Fighting for classic heavy metal - A review of Charizma's "We Fight for the Sky"How a respectable compilation should be done - A review of Amorphis' "His Story" »
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