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This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2005, seeing as Children of Bodom’s previous albums had amazed me with their sheer quality. It took me a while to get hold of Are You Dead Yet? due to delays and such which only built my expectations further. When I finally heard the album, it left me satisfied, yet a little disappointed.
Upon first listen it is very obvious that the band have streamlined their sound, with fewer melodies, more straightforward riffs and slower tempos than on previous efforts. The keyboards seem a lot less prevalent than before too, and the drumming seems a lot simpler than on previous albums. Alexi’s vocals continue to become more decipherable as well. The production is clear and each instrument is clearly audible which works to the bands advantage, giving the album a fuller sound.
The songs themselves are instantly recognisable as Children of Bodom songs, yet they also have individual qualities that make them distinctive from their other songs. “If You Want Peace…Prepare for War” is a fast paced thrasher with a triple solo battle between Alexi, Roope and Janne. “We’re Not Gonna Fall” is in the mould of “Hate Crew Deathroll” with it’s group chorus shouts and catchy main melody, and “Next in Line” features groove orientated riffs and another memorable melody, reminiscent of “Northern Comfort”.
Inevitably, the solos on the album are brilliant. Alexi and Janne still produce lightning speed solos and duels, with Roope even joining in on the aforementioned triple solo battle in “If You Want Peace…Prepare for War.” Janne seems to have toned down slightly and Alexi shines more on this record. This is not a problem due to Laiho’s phenomenal skills on guitar, but Janne is equally as good on the keyboards and it is a shame that we don’t hear him as much here.
Despite broadening their sound however, the album does have its flaws. Some of the lyrics are absolutely atrocious (I’m sure you know how “In Your Face” goes by now) and sometimes the lack of pace can make the album drag a bit (even if it is just under forty minutes). The previously mentioned lack of keyboards can also be a problem. There are some instances where they excel greatly to fine affect, such as the start of “In Your Face” or the mid section of opener “Living Dead Beat.” But other instances, such as the verses in the title track, seem a bit plain and ordinary, something the band has never been in the past
This is by no means a bad album, but it is not a great one either. The tracks here are good, but they can’t stand up to the high quality the band set themselves with Hatebreeder or Follow the Reaper. This album is worth your time, but don’t expect to be blown away.