For nearly three decades, scythe swinging Finnish metal act Children Of Bodom have honed in on their masterful blend of melodic death metal, thrash metal, symphonic black metal, and neoclassical metal, carving a well deserved name for themselves in the metal history books. Forging a path of their own by delivering ass-kicking metal songs with a “no fucks given” attitude, the group is gearing up to release their 10th studio album on March 8th via Nuclear Blast Records titled Hexed. With such a distinguished catalogue consisting of second to none keyboard sections, finely tuned string work and darkened melodies, Children Of Bodom continue to sharpen their scythe and engage listeners by executing their high powered brand of reckless heavy metal on Hexed.
With Children Of Bodom, there never seems to be a dull moment. Their high energy is what draws you in and their ability to provide such catchy and canorous shredding is what keeps you tuned in. Not only that, but they provide a range of extreme elements that appeal to damn near every variety of metalhead. The mid-pace of opening track “This Road,” introduces the record with inherent and powerful double bass provided by drummer Jaska Raatikainen, streaming beneath a textbook Bodom riff. From there, melodically guided guitar nuances blaze the trail for the swingy, earworm chorus that wraps you up in a hate crew chokehold.
Released as the first single off of Hexed, “Under Grass and Clover” creates a more upbeat atmosphere for this record. An 80’s pop-rock inspired synth pairs in sync with a gothenburg style riff to open up the track. Aside from the synth-riff relationship that creates the body of this track, there are a lot of elements of this song rooted in classic heavy metal, most notably the presence of the traditional dueling guitar assault. The marrying of guitars and synthesizer between Alexi Laiho (founding member/lead guitarist/vocalist), keyboardist Janne Warman and newest guitarist Daniel Freyberg, is what gives Children Of Bodom not only their most identifiable characteristic, but their most powerful attribute as well. An attribute that spans across their entire discography and continues on through the next track “Glass Houses.”
One of the greatest things about listening to any later Bodom record is their addictive pursuits of heaviness. Whether it be “Angels Don’t Kill” off of Hate Crew Deathroll or “Prayer For The Afflicted” from their (2015) album I Worship Chaos, these guys always know how to incorporate those slowed down, synth driven tracks to each album. “Hecate’s Nightmare” and “Soon Departed” are songs that draw on that darkly enchanting side of the bands sound. The former track sees them experimenting with bright and playful keyboard sounds, where the latter uses darker melodies to explore a more depressive mood that develops into a soaring chorus. Tracks like these present and reinforce a contrast between the slower side of Children Of Bodom, while “Kick In A Spleen” capitalizes on the aforementioned “ass-kicking” speed metal tendencies of the band. It also captures the impressive qualities of one of the most ripping guitar and keyboard solos on the album.
Proving the power of their sound in 2019, comes the full on rager and title track “Hexed.” Presenting some of the most classic traits of Children Of Bodom heard on the album. This song is a representation of the veteran status these guys have worked so hard to achieve. A proggier use of the piano clashes with an arena of dexterous riffing, injecting a strenuous amount of agility into this track. And what is a classic COB song without shouted gang vocals for the chorus? This track has a blistering thrash appeal to it and utilizes a dynamic range of melodies, concluding with a fuzzy, almost fretless bass sounding riff played by longtime bassist Henkka Blacksmith. This leads into a track that die hard fans of the first few Bodom records will have no choice but to rejoice over called, “Relapse (The Nature Of My Crime).” This track reminisces on the haunting sound that the band developed on praised album Follow The Reaper, giving off a great feeling of nostalgia and sure to be an old-school fan favorite.
Children Of Bodom bring Hexed to a close with the aggressive, yet symphonious “Knuckleduster,” ending the album with enthusiasm. The spacious grooves and spellbinding synthesizers heard on this track serve as core elements of this bands sound, a sound that has kept them in business for many years. Hexed puts the Finnish quintet at the top of their game and sees each musician continuing to flourish individually, equally lending themselves to the massive sound heard throughout this entire record.