Warmen
Here for None

Logistically speaking, there’s only so many bands that can reach that legendary status of “true originators,” a band that for a period of time – maybe a few years, maybe generations – creates a sound that gets endlessly copied, replicated, ripped off, paid tribute to, call it whatever you want. Obviously, we’re talking the Black Sabbath clones, the Iron Maiden worshippers, the In Flames and At The Gates wannabe’s, the bands that truly left a mark on the world of extreme music that, more than likely, won’t ever go away completely.

One of the biggest, more recent examples is the legendary Children of Bodom – who, going on for about 25 years, were the definition of that thrashy, neo-classically drenched Finnish Melodeath sound (ok so it’s not actually that recent… SHUT UP AND LET ME DENY MY OWN MORTALITY).  And while the late Alexi Laiho certainly (and deservedly) got much of the credit for the COB formula, it can certainly be argued that keyboardist Janne Wirman was equally responsible for their instantly recognizable sound which, of course, brings us directly to his non-Bodom project, Warmen. 

Of course, this is far from Warmen’s first offering from this project which, since 2000’s Unknown Soldier, has mostly been a solo project with a rotating cast of guest musicians (including at times Alexi Laiho himself). Sometimes the project was an instrumental affair, sometimes guest vocalists would lend their talents, but while Wirman’s recognizable keyboard work was often reminiscent of his regular gig with Bodom, the results were far more progressive, technical demonstrations. But perhaps with the passing of his longtime bandmate, Wirman, along with his guitarist brother Antti, decided it was time to carry the torch for their lost brother, and turn Warmen into a more traditional act – becoming what is, essentially, a Children of Bodom tribute band (I will leave it to you to decide whether you can actually call them a “tribute band” when they have an original member of the band they’re paying tribute to at the helm – I don’t have all day to argue).

 

To complete the transformation, Warmen has recruited Ensiferum‘s Petri Lindroos to become the band’s first full-time vocalist (also playing guitar), and I can’t honestly think of a better person to fill that role in celebration of Bodom. Adding a musician of his pedigree, not to mention a fan of COB as he is, only adds to the sense that this is a celebration of all things Bodom. Whether it’s the upbeat nods to their earlier work on tracks like opener “Warmen are Here for None,” or “Night Terrors,” the groovier, Lamb of God-inspired albums like Relentless, Reckless Forever or Blooddrunk (see tracks “The Driving Force” or “Hell on Four Wheels”) or the albums that found COB somewhere in-between like Halo of Blood and I Worship Chaos (“A World of Pain” and “The Cold Unknown”) Here for None ensures Bodom fans of all eras have a piece of the pie to enjoy, and if you’re generally a fan everything they ever released? All the better. It’s like the greatest hits album of COB tracks you never knew.

Of course, all the good intent  in the world is all for naught if it isn’t pulled off convincingly, and hoo boy does Warmen give it the full beans. The dueling guitar and keyboard solo of “The Driving Force” pretty much launches me right back to 2008 listening to Hate Crew Deathroll on repeat in my ’93 Suzuki Sidekick (JLX spec with the 95hp 5-speed inline 4 cylinder engine I CAN FEEL YOUR JEALOUSY). And when they bust out the gang vocals on “A World of Pain” it feels just like listening to “Warheart” or “Hate Me” for the 57-billionth time while painting or sketching what was, I’m sure, some REALLY fuckin’ edgy shit in my high school art class (YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, MOM). On the other end of the spectrum, “Too Much, Too Late” has the perfect cadence that I could have introduced to the 3-A-Day summer football practice weight room playlist that was otherwise reserved for “Eye of the Tiger” or Van Hagar’s “Right Now.” EAT IT, COACH CATANO! (I’m kidding please don’t kill me). If there’s any complaint to be found here, weirdly, it’s the overmodulation at times with Wirman’s keys (you’ll notice it right off the bat on track 1) that make them sound extremely distorted, and not in a stylistically intentional kind of way. Luckily, this isn’t a constant issue on the album, but for Pete’s sake, what the hell happened here?? I digress…

If you can’t tell, Here for None has me caught in a big ol’ wave of teenage nostalgia like every kid that peaked in high school and, while I certainly don’t recommend you make that a regular part of your persona, in brief doses it can certainly bring a harmless grin to my otherwise middle-aged, beaten-down face. I applaud Janne Wirman totally embracing the fact that he will forever be knowns as “Janne from Children of Bodom” and leaning into this shift in this project’s purpose. There’s certainly no reason to shy away from it or feel slighted, because regardless of who may have gotten the lion’s share of credit for Bodom developing the sound they did, it’s a product like this that really shows how much of that praise he deserves. God knows there’s plenty of Bodom worship to be found out there, and damned if there isn’t a lot of really good stuff that falls under that category – but none can claim with real sincerity to be the real McCoy to the extent Warmen can. So go ahead and raise a glass for Alexi and give this one the full blast it deserves.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
August 14th, 2023

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