CHILDREN OF BODOM
Nuclear Blast Records
Release: March 8, 2019
Formed in Espoo, Finland in 1993 originally under the moniker Inearthed, Children Of Bodom had an extraordinary start to their career. Their ‘90s take off was so impressive that many new metal bands still look up to it today – almost all of their albums earned platinum or gold status in Finland and over the past twenty five years.
They‘ve become regulars on some of the world‘s biggest stages. 2019 beckons in a new era for a revitalized and bloodthirsty Hate Crew, who will present their 10th studio album ‘’Hexed’’ on March 8th.
It’s been three years since the release of ‘’I Worship Chaos’’ and COB have taken time out around touring to carefully develop this new work, which packs a hell of a punch. History tells us that having an extensive time frame to work on a project can often result in procrastination and loss of focus – but with ‘’Hexed’’ the reverse has manifest in this 11 track, impressively stripped back melo-death, rock-n-roll-rampage.
Under Grass And Clover
Kick In The Spleen
Platitudes and Barren Words
Relapse (The Nature Of My Crime)
Say Never Look Back
“This road’s gonna kill me,” exhorts shredder extraordinaire Alexi Laiho on the album’s opening track “The Road” – paying homage to the determined decades which the guys have spent slogging it out on the tarmac, undoubtedly one of the toughest aspects to a musician’s career. Alexi opens up on this: “…I’ve been living on the road for over 20 years, and I’m sure that every single touring musician would agree that at some point it just becomes a blur and you don’t even know what the hell’s going on. You feel like it’s going to kill you, but you keep doing it no matter what. It’s kind of a drug because you can’t stop. I can’t. I’m going to do it as long as I live—there’s no other way.”
Underscoring their overall vision is the hard and modern production of longtime sound-shaper Mikko Karmilla, who Laiho can’t praise enough. “He knows very well what we want and we’ve been working together forever. The way he mixes the album, he just knows exactly what we want. And it’s a unique sound and you can hear that sound. I’m not saying that all Finnish bands sound the same, but there’s a certain vibe on the records that he’s mixed that you can hear, especially with the drums, which sound fucking bad-ass. As a person, he’s super funny but if he doesn’t like something, he’ll tell you flat-out, and not in the nicest way ever. But it’s also very funny at the same time if you know him.”
A curious addition to the album, says Alexi, is a twisted second go at an old Bodom song. “We re-recorded a song called “Knuckleduster” that was originally on the ‘Trashed, Lost and Strungout’ EP that came out in 2004, and we all thought that it was a great song. It was kind of overlooked and we just figured that we needed to do it again - it needed to be heard again. But I had no idea what I sang on that song; like no frigging idea except for the chorus. So I had to rewrite the lyrics and I had to… well at least I tried to write ‘em so that they would sound kind of like the original did. As for the lyrics, it’s just another vent about how I don’t like somebody.”
A material change for the better on ‘’Hexed’’ is the addition of axeman Daniel Freyberg (ex-Naildown and ex-Norther) to the band. “It’s been pretty awesome with him,” reflects Alexi. “I think I’m speaking for all of us that we’re very happy that he ended up joining the band. The rest of us, you know, four of us, we’ve known each other since childhood. I know it sounds like a cliché, but try fucking touring for 20 years and you’ll see that it’s like a marriage sometimes, where you end up bickering about stupid shit. But with him being there, I don’t know, that’s just faded away. It’s just more fun. Plus he’s a hard worker; he really is. He takes everything so seriously when it comes to playing guitar and learning pretty much anything, not just guitar, but just learning how to be a professional musician. He’s one of those dudes that sits there and listens and watches and absorbs everything. And that’s what I like about him, because that’s how I am too. That’s the best way to learn - just observe. And still, I’ve known Daniel for something like ten years. But the other guys, me and Jaska, the drummer, we started this band, from when we were 13 and I met him when I was ten or 11. And Henkka, the bass player, he joined the band in 1995. So he was something like 14. It’s like we grew up together.”
COB has always been one of my favourite bands since the age of thirteen. My favourite album is actually from 2003, ‘’Follow The Reaper’’. Somehow this album is very scarce, and I have never found it in a CD-store. It is still not in my current collection sadly enough. It is no surprise that I was super excited when ‘’Hexed’’ was announced!
Not having much of an intro, ‘’This Road’’ throws us almost instantly in a deep sea made of epic melodies. Exactly what I expected from these iconic guys. ‘’Under Grass And Clover’’ made me so excited for this album. I feel like a kid in a candy store listening to this one. I really like COB’s ‘’no bullsh*t’’ approach. Nothing about their music annoys me, like for example insanely long tracks and solos, strange prog-like compositions and whatnot. After approximately twenty years into their career, the music has always been of the great, steady quality that it still is today. ’’Glass Houses’’ is no exception of this.
‘’Hecate’s Nightmare’’ is an interesting track, it isn’t as heavy as the previous three tracks. Too bad that Nuclear Blast did not provide any lyrics with the promo, because I would have liked to read along. It sounds like there is a story behind this song. ‘’Kick In The Spleen’’ is straightforward COB: Scandinavian, melodic, death metal with pure hate and aggression in the lyrics. Not the best of the best on this album, but more of a new ‘’classic’’. ‘’Platitudes And Barren Words’’ was released most recently as a single. As with many of these tracks, the music sounds extremely familiar, but that is a pitfall of being a music reviewer I guess. The chorus has another kind of vocals than just the screams we’re used to hear from Alexi. It is fitting and a good choice. Title track, ‘’hexed’’, is awesome. It has a bit of every piece that makes COB amazing. But I still prefer ‘’Under Grass And Clover’’ over this one. ‘’Relapse (The Nature Of My Crime)’’ is no different from all previous songs (not that I was expecting experimental stuff at this point). I like that this tracks sounds a bit evil though!
‘’Say Never Look Back’’ sounds like a filler track to me, and ‘’Soon Departed’’ does as well. Both are nice tracks, but they’re not outstandingly great. ‘’Knuckleduster’’ is a rerecording, but was originally released in 2004. I love that they gave this track another chance. I found it extremely funny that Alexi did not remember the original lyrics of the song, it sounds like something that could have happened to myself. However the end product is awesome once again.
In conclusion, it is as clear as day that I love ‘’Hexed’’. It is the best album since 2008 they have produced, and sound like their old self again.
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Alexi Laiho – guitar and vocals
Janne Wirman – keyboards
Daniel Freyberg – guitar
Henkka Blacksmith – bass guitar
Jaska Raatikainen - drums