A big name in extreme metal, Children of Bodom bring a genre blend of Melodic Synths, Neoclassical arrangements and fast and powerful Metal; taking cues from Black/Death Metal. It is actually incredibly difficult to define their genre, they are just Children of Bodom. Since exploding in to the scene with albums like Are You Dead Yet? and Hate Crew Deathroll, or the even earlier Follow the Reaper or Hatebreeder, they have struggled to live up to immense power of these earlier albums. Though their recent albums were very strong, it didn’t quite measure up and this lead to the return to the roots style of Halo of Blood; but following the departure of longtime guitarist Roope Latvala, I Worship Chaos showed another direction for the band. Then taking on guitarist Daniel Freyberg, ready for the Finnish Metallers to return with Hexed.
Lead guitarist, vocalist Alexi Laiho and long friend, drummer, Jaska Raatikainen were always a large core of what the band is, and their style became all the more prominent with the introduction of Janne Wirman on keys. This gives them their signature vocals, powerful Metal guitars and Neoclassical arrangements, which make the band so unique. It’s a style that proves irresistible and straight away there is a refinement with Hexed which is contagious. Polished and powerful, at its best it’s shockingly exciting and amazingly catching. ‘Under Grass and Clover’ and ‘Platitudes and Barren Words’ were obvious picks for music videos as they have a consistent momentum throughout. Whilst songs like ‘Hecate’s Nightmare’, ‘Relapse (The Nature of My Crime)’ and title-track ‘Hexed’, manages a playful and almost dark nursery rhyme edge that pushes this Neoclassical style into a deeper resonance for Metal music.
Beautifully rhythmic and audaciously melodic the album offers many opportunities to get listeners hooked. New guitarist Daniel Freyberg manages to meld into the band very well. There is many chances to hear both guitarists playing off each other in a way that manages to exude fun. They work in a very similar way to how Alexi Laiho and Janne Wirman playfully bounce off each other. It’s amazing how quick the two guitarists have built up this kind of rapport. They are just having fun and it constructs powerful pieces of Metal. Looking back into their discography the album brings back some of that raw sounding riffs, whilst also bringing back the track ‘Knuckleduster’, remixed to a new audience and a new day.
The album is remarkably well organised and polished, for a band that have changed a lot recently. Merging new guitarist with seamless ease. Hexed has a lot of their recent maturing, with the energy and fun that has stayed with the band throughout their career. With a look to the Neoclassical influence, they have only managed to embellish this feeling. Making songs into awe capturing tracks and the only pitfalls are the songs that only hit slightly short of their best. One of the big things that have changed since the band's break through albums is that Metal has gotten heavier and more diverse. This unfortunately means that listeners are perhaps more used to the Extreme Metal that they play. It isn’t as powerful because it’s not as new, but that doesn’t make it stagnant or bad. It is a step forward for a band that can seamlessly bleed good music.