Children of Bodom - Follow the Reaper Nuclear Blast - 2001 By Rodrigo /images/covers/ChildrenofBodom.jpg A bands third album is probably one of the most important releases for any band. This is the release that can establish or break a band. Some magnificent third albums by various bands include Iron Maidens "Number of the Beast", Iced Earths "Burnt Offerings" and Blind Guardians"Tales from the Twilight World". These albums established that these bands were for "real" and not flukes. After two very strong releases the stage was set for Children of Bodom to prove that they could come out with an even better effort. Follow the Reaper manages to achieve this and fully establish Children of Bodom as one of the best bands in metal. Everything about Follow the Reaper is an improvement over their previous albums. The songwriting, playing and production are all better and they sound even more mature. An excellent example of this is one of the best Children of Bodom songs, "Every time I Die". It is a slower paced song (not the usual tempo they play in) but it just as harsh and excellent as their faster material. This just shows how Alexi "WildChild" Laiho has evolved as a songwriter. But do not fear my friends, the majority of the music still features fast and razor sharp melodic guitars, excellent keyboard melodies and brutal singing as evidenced in the outstanding songs like "Follow the Reaper" and "Children of Decadence". The latter song starts off with music that reminds me of Stratovarius (at the simplest level think of Children of Bodom as Stratovarius music with death metal vocals) but it only lasts for a little bit. Right after the listener is hit with tight crushing riffing, excellent instrumental playing and a very catchy chorus. One of the other greatest aspects of Children of Bodom is their ability to do guitar and keyboard solo trade-offs like a progressive metal band like Symphony X and that is definitely the case with those two songs. Another excellent song is "Hate Me". This was released as a single before the release of Follow the Reaper. The intro keys reminded me immediately of the music of the famous shower scene from "Psycho". This song is excellent and it features some fabulous guitar solos. However, all these positives might no have been achieved if it were not for the excellent work of producer Peter Tägtgren. Everything he touches turns to gold and Follow the Reaper is another example of the excellent work he does. Every instrument can be cleanly heard and the sound of Follow the Reaper is a lot "bigger" than in the last two Children of Bodom albums. I do have just one minor complaint though. Why is it that with a Children of Bodom album not all the lyrics to the songs are put in the booklet? Hopefully whoever makes this decision will just finally decide to put all the lyrics on the booklet for future releases. Despite this minor complaint, to simply put it, Follow the Reaper is an invigorating and outstanding release making it their best album so far. Children of Bodom have passed the third album test and have placed themselves as one of the best bands in metal.