HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

CHILDREN OF BODOM
Blooddrunk (Spinefarm)

Certainly on formula here, no more and no less, COB turn in another short album (nine tracks totaling 36:53 - and I do mean totaling!) full of processed, ProTooled, computer-corrected neo-thrash. And that's not a bad thing, when your guitarist is the blazing Alexi Laiho, a "wild child" not without a sense of humour like Strid or the Witchery gang. Janne is present and accounted for as well, non-ironically poking the melodies up front, underscoring them with clarity through his keyboard sounds - yes, all of them prissy. Thicker production and a little less tossed-off punk to the arrangements diminishes the weird "smallness" this band has always evoked, against more epic acts like Arch Enemy or Lamb Of God. But that low to the ground quality, the spontaneity of things, the cover versions, and yes, weirdly, the brevity of the records, has made Children Of Bodom kind of a fun time rock 'n' roll act for the extreme (and the extremely young) set, despite the evidence that there's a lot of aggressive and serious playing and roaring and recording in the songs themselves.
Rating 7

STEVE STEVENS
Memory Crash (Magna Carta)

Don't hate him because he's beautiful - or a bit of a caricature and second fiddle to another caricature, Billy Idol (actually, on the cover here, he looks exactly like Nikki Sixx!). Stevens is in fact, an old guy, a big classic and prog rock fan, and a thoroughly talented and entertaining guitarist. Memory Crash does as good a job as possible with the hobbled idea/concept of a (mostly) instrumental guitar album, and what I mean by that is that Stevens convinces the non-guitar player to ride along and follow and dig what he's doing. He does this a number of ways, through versatility (spot the Yes bit, the King Crimson bit, the Trower bit - and the opener is just a Vai-like rock out), through gorgeous self-production, and through a pandering though lustful and steeply textured cover of 'Day Of The Eagle' by Robin Trower (yes, there's more Trower-powered stuff on one of his own instrumentals). Incidentally, this stomping cover features Dug Pinnick on passionate and bluesy vocals, Stevens having played on Dug's recent fine solo album. And actually, another way Stevens keeps the novice interested, is by mastering and maneuvering the space between soloing and rhythm guitar with aplomb. This isn't just a bunch of thin high notes - he plays and plays up the whole instrument, enthusiastically. Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman and especially the immense John 5 have raised the bar for these things, leaving Satriani, Petrucci and even Vai, momentarily at least, in need of a rethink. Stevens seems savvy enough to have taken stock of the current high entertainment factor needed to make these things work.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 3