Children of Bodom – Hexed Review

A blessing or a travesty? Under Bodom’s spell for their tenth album.

The last decade or so of Bodom albums have certainly been somewhat of a rollercoaster in terms of quality. For albums such as 2013’s return to form, Halo of Blood, there was the middling follow up release I Worship Chaos. Indeed it seems that with Hexed, the band takes a stripped back approach and it largely pays off for the most part.

The biggest addition to the album is the return of the long dormant neo-classical style which flavoured early records such as Hatecrew Deathroll and Follow the Reaper especially. Hexed is full of old school flare and doesn’t disappoint on the guitar side of things.

The singles prior to release gave us a strong idea of what to expect going into the full album with This Road and Under Grass and Clover leaving a lasting impression on me. I feel a similar way with how In Flames’ I, The Mask returned to old school roots too as I do here, It felt to me once I heard these two songs that their work prior to Blooddrunk was returning in full force and the album carries that momentum throughout.

In terms of the guitar work present, I believe that the addition of Daniel Freyberg works wonders to spark the creativity from Alexi Laiho and give us those dual aspects in the richness of the rhythm and scope that we have been missing from Bodom since 2013’s Halo of Blood with long time guitarist Roope Latvala absence.

What we have here is a catchy album with a tonne of riffs and melodies to spare backed beautifully by a healthy dose of old school synth work reminiscent of their Follow the Reaper and Are You Dead Yet? which work astoundingly well.

Lyrically there really isn’t anything to hold onto here. You won’t find any deep meaningful insight or anything of note to ponder on once you have finished spinning the record for the first or second time, not that it’s ever been Bodom’s strong point. On that subject, Laiho’s vocals remain unchanged from how they have always sounded and simply put, you either love his shrill bark or you hate it. I’m in the former category, I enjoy his gruff power metal shriek, not quite a growl or a scream but it once again, as always, is entirely serviceable and he sounds good enough here.

The choruses are once again hit and miss as far as Bodom goes, its a modern trapping that the band cannot escape, whilst a lot of the hooks are indeed infectious ear worms, that isn’t always for the best as the lacking/juvenile lyrical content quality on offer here leaves a lot to be desired. I’ll admit, I have listened to the record a couple times and I have a decent feel for it despite every song not having the staying power as their older material.

Fans of Bodom’s earlier releases, I believe shall be very happy with the band’s latest offering. You may not find depth but what you will find however is a fun record that doesn’t outstay its welcome, which is laden with technical, melodic and inspired guitar work which culminate in what I believe to be their best album since 2005’s Are You Dead Yet?.