Four albums in and still whacked on speed, Finnish five-piece Children of Bodom continue with its highly entertaining, giddy, pogo-stick metal on Hate Crew Deathroll. Attitude-wise, CoB has become the Manowar of melodic death metal, willfully leaping off the cliff of over-the-top metaldom (not unlike Swedish supergroup Witchery) -- which is refreshing, considering the poker-faced seriousness of most acts in the genre, and here, main Bodom-ite Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho keeps his tongue firmly in cheek while tearing through squirrelly cuts such as "Triple Corpse Hammerblow" and "Lil' Bloodred Ridin' Hood." Like its predecessor, Follow the Reaper, Hate Crew finds Laiho firing off frantic speed metal riffs and technical, shred-heavy solos alongside humorously irritating prog/horror movie keyboards; this time, however, he has tightened up the arrangements (most songs clock in under four minutes) and significantly improved the enunciation of his vocal screech, making for a lean, mean, and infectious listen. The album races to the finish of its 36-minute running time, only slowing down for deathly ballad "Angels Don't Kill" and highlight "Sixpounder," which trades busy fretwork for hackle-raising mid-tempo riff chuggery and a monstrous, sweeping, anthemic chorus. Adding to the album's effectiveness is its crisp, crystal-clear, sharp, and mechanical production (Megadeth's stellar Countdown to Extinction is a reference point), which perfectly suits CoB's slice'n'dice songwriting ethic. Hate Crew Deathroll is easily the band's most accomplished, well-rounded, and enjoyable album, thanks to Laiho's playful, frisky approach to metal's clichés; placing Children of Bodom next to comparable European metal acts gives the overtly serious sensibilities of the genre a well-deserved deflating.
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AllMusic Review by John Serba