Sometimes the problem with a band being around for a long time is that they get comfortable with their sound and as a result end up getting stale. After more than twenty-five years together you could forgive the flying Finns for falling into that category, but instead what we get with Hexed is a freshness. Part of is a force freshness thanks to the arrival of new guitarist Daniel Freyberg and the other is a freshness thanks to a band that has been willing to play around with their sound a little.
Freyberg hits the ground running as he and Alexi Laiho deliver a mass of screaming guitars on the opening track ‘This Road’ which sees Children Of Bodom at full flight delivering a track at the full intensity that we have known to come and love from them over the years. ‘Under Grass And Clover’ continues the intensity with a hint of Janne Wirman’s keys shining through as well, giving a hint of what is to come.
‘Glass Houses’ takes the intensity right through to eleven and you find yourself just wanting to headbang along to what you are listing to. The track is lifted even further by Laiho’s amazing vocals and once again he shows why he is one of the most gifted vocalist going around. Then there is ‘Hecate’s Nightmare’ which shows Children Of Bodom’s eagerness to experiment as the keys and strings make the track sound like a lullaby and then turn into one of the best tracks on the album.
If you need an example of the brilliance of Children Of Bodom then look no further than ‘Kick In A Spleen.’ This is a track where you never really know where as the listener you will be taken next. From the echoey drums of Jaska Raatikainen to kick things off through to the amazing keyboard solo and high intensity guitars that make you want to see the track live this is the kind of song that has hit written all over it.
That necessity to be different sees Hexed take another turn on the musical highway with the almost Wednesday 13 gothic stylings of ‘Platitudes And Barren Words’ which is then backed up with the equally amazing title track that reaches such great heights instrumentally that you would swear the band are being backed up by a symphony. Epic heights are again reached on ‘Say Never Look Back’ while ‘Soon Departed’ sounds like a wall of sound coming straight out of your speakers and hitting you directly in the face.
The band then chose to close out the album with one of the best tracks they have delivered in years. ‘Knuckleduster’ is a pure hate anthem and here we find the re-working of it after it originally appeared on their Trashed, Lost And Strungout EP of 2004. This re-working is pure bliss and got instantly added to my personal play list after just one listen.
It is hard to imagine Children Of Bodom being able to better some of the amazing albums that they have delivered over the years but Hexed certainly does this. The freshness of the band’s sound and the intensity is captivatingly infectious. It is only February and we have already seen some albums that are in the running for album of the year and now Hexed places itself right in line for that honour as well.