Children Of Bodom are one of those bands who have somewhat suffered from the incredible levels of quality of their initial material. From debut record ‘Something Wild’ (1997), through ‘Hatebreeder’ (1999), ‘Follow The Reaper’ (2000), ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’ (2003), to ‘Are You Dead Yet?’ (2005), there aren’t many examples of a better start to a metal band’s career.
Because of this, the band’s recent trajectory has been patchy. 2008’s ‘Blooddrunk’ was the point in time when critical acclaim and subsequent popularity appeared to wane. So, with that being said, ‘Hexed’ arrives with both limited expectations and questionable relevance in today’s alternative music scene.
Thankfully, some of the quality on show is only a stone’s throw from some of those earlier records, and it starts in fine form with ‘This Road’ displaying that, by now, staple Children Of Bodom guitar tone. Fully complimented by heavily gravelled vocals from Alexi Laiho and showing superb levels of technicality and melody, the head banging opportunities are endless with terrific catchy riffs and harmonic guitar leads in abundance.
‘Under Grass And Clover’ is a much more straightforward affair with decent song writing applied to a more classic rock leaning attitude, with a few riffs thrown in for good measure and a catchy chorus to boot. ‘Hecate’s Nightmare’ again harks back to their roots with those trademark ‘chunting’ guitar sounds popularised on ‘Are You Dead Yet?’ peppered on the track along with some decent pinch harmonic work from Laiho and fellow guitarist, Daniel Freyberg.
Guitar solos are have never really left Children Of Bodom‘s cannon, and it’s good to see them pushed to the forefront on ‘Platitudes And Barren Words’ and the record’s title track. The latter is arguably the highlight of the album, and features a frenetic thrash metal undertone, bundles of technicality, and a touch of progressiveness through intricate speed picking building into a stunning final chorus and outro (listen out for the very ‘Blooddrunk’-esque chorus also).
That speed picking showmanship continues through ‘Relapse (The Nature Of My Crimes)’, with some ace gothic-led discordant keyboard work from Janne Wirman in the background, whilst ‘Kick In A Spleen’ is filthily aggressive odd groove-laden riff set against fretboard gymnastics aplenty.
While there are a few tracks that fail to deliver much in the way of memorable moments resulting in a bit of lost momentum at times, finale ‘Knuckleduster’ comes full circle to that opening track with tremendous broken-down section that highlights the fact that Children Of Bodom are looking to adapt to modern metal trends.
All in all, ‘Hexed’ is a fine return to form and a conscious effort made by the band to build on those solid roots without necessarily trying to ape them. What you’ve got here is an extremely solid modern melodic death metal record that is accessible in all the right places.
After getting into alternative music during the mid 90s with the rise of nu-metal and pop-punk, I’ve gradually spread my interests far and wide and have a real love for metalcore, prog metal and tech metal. Amongst other things, I am a husband, father of two amazing kids, heavy metal DJ, and video game/book/nerd enthusiast!