What can be said about Children of Bodom? Eight albums in and they still demonstrate impressive musicianship. Of course, nothing beats their old stuff! There was something special about the first three Bodom releases; they contained a certain "charm" causing them to stand out within the band's discography. Time to go back to the turn of the century and explore some of the coolest traits these albums possess.
First, these albums featured significant elements of black metal. Bodom was always a band that drew from a wide variety of influences, but the black metal tinge on these early albums was what really helped give their music a raw and intense sound. This is particularly true of their debut (just listen to "In the Shadows"). Though not as significant as the death or power metal influence, it was enough to convert a number of black metal fans into Bodom fans.
Second, the keys and guitars complimented each other beautifully. The way in which Janne Wirman plays keyboard was always one of the strongest facets Bodom had to offer. Yet how Wirman and Alexi Laiho play off of each other is just plain awesome! Go ahead and revisit the "Hatebreeder" album to hear them exchange solos as if they were battling each other (anyone remember the ending of the title track?).
Third, their album art really deserves a shout out. Having made an appearence on all of their albums, the reaper could basically be considered Children of Bodom's "Eddie". There's something I really like about the album art of their first three releases in particular. They all feature photographs of the reaper standing in very remote places such as by a lake ("Hatebreeder") or a graveyard ("Follow the Reaper"). All simplistic photos, yet also bleak and very dark.
Finally and most importantly, NON-STOP FUCKING SHRED!! Need I say more? Do yourself a favor and revisit these albums.