Children Of Bodom

Hexed

Written by: RUB on 21/03/2019 12:12:16

The Finns of the melodic death metal band Children of Bodom are once again back with a new outing. Probably most known for their older stuff (in particular 1999’s “Hatebreeder”, 2000’s “Follow the Reaper” and 2003’s “Hate Crew Deathroll”), the group’s recent outings have been disappointing to say the least — perhaps with the exception of 2013’s “Halo of Blood” — but they are still going strong and they’ve even reached a landmark now with their 10th full-length album, entitled “Hexed”. As hinted by the band members themselves, there was to be some new elements in these songs, some of which they’d allegedly never used before, making the prospect of reviewing the record somewhat intriguing. Admittedly, I do have a hard time really getting excited about this release, as lately the Finns have sounded pretty monotonous as far as successive albums go, but in the spirit of objectivity, I of course keep an open mind as I cue the first song.

And what a start it is! “This Road” instantly takes me back to ‘Bodom’s glory years of yonder, and I quickly find myself nodding along to the explosion of power from frontman Alexi Laiho and lead guitarist Daniel Freyberg’s riffs, and the amount of groove in Jaska W. Raatikainen’s drumming. All of this is taken up a notch when the chorus arrives accompanied by another batch of impactful guitarwork, truly setting the expectations high for the rest of the album. It is catchy, melodic and memorable, fitting nicely into the classic structure used for the song, and as ever, Janne Wirman’s keyboard is omnipresent, giving it that additional melodic dimension for which the Finnish band is so revered. It must be said that the melodies used in “This Road” are rather simple, but the impression one gets from the song is very positive, albeit not groundbreaking — just classic ‘Bodom style. It sets a precedent for the rest of the material on “Hexed”, all of which gives plenty of space for both Laiho and Wirman to show off their latest solos, and although there is little new or astonishing about them, a few above-average solos have nonetheless made their way into the album.

Apart from the songs mentioned in the Download section of this review below, however, “Hexed” has a pretty lackluster feeling about it. Not counting the last three tracks on the record, it clocks in at around 47 minutes, which would be pretty decent if none of the songs were essentially just filler. Indeed, it would have been better if one or two of these tracks had been cut out to land the album closer to 35 minutes in length — and that is not even including the re-issue of “Knuckleduster” off the band’s 2004 EP “Thrashed, Lost and Strungout”, which also features here. This is because the strongest material on “Hexed” is definitely packed into the first half, with only the title track later on really making an impression. Generally speaking, the songs here lack that special ‘Bodom feel’ the band is known for; you can recognise them all as Children of Bodom, but they’re simply not as interesting nor inspiring as in the past. Any day of the week, I would still return to the three records mentioned in the beginning of this review, because they truly blow your mind and inspire you to go crazy with air-guitar and/or -keyboard (is that even a thing?).

Overall then, “Hexed” has a vibe about it that quite resembles ‘Bodom’s older material, which is a definite plus in my book. The melodies have a strong presence again and some of the tracks even give you that same darker feeling as the classic stuff still does so many years later. But the general impression I am left with of “Hexed” is that Children of Bodom are dangerously running on fumes by now, even if the album is a small step up from 2015’s “I Worship Chaos”. On the other hand, the album still contains those melodic death metal bangers that are sure to bring the band to a city near you for yet another round of moshing, but as a whole, I’d still probably just settle with the good ol’ stuff.

6

Download: This Road, Under Grass and Clover, Glass Houses, Platitudes and Barren Words, Hexed,
For the fans of: Norther, Wintersun, Arch Enemy, In Flames
Listen: Facebook

Release date 08.03.2019
Nuclear Blast

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