|Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal
September 14th, 2005
Release length: 40:49
The production of this release is definitely a cleaner one, and with that the music seems to be a little weaker. While the guitars sound deep and work well with the bass to create a heavy atmosphere, they ultimately still have a higher pitch then they probably should. This is highlighted thanks to the keyboards sounding a bit higher pitch. The drums sound good though, having a thud on the kicks that’s alright and the snares and cymbols sound good as well. The music just sounds like listening to hazey music, like an audio interpretation of the visuals thinned and blocked out by roamed fog. The vocals are perhaps the biggest letdown on this release. While there’s still a decent amount of energy in the music and the vocals, the cleaner sound leaves the vocals sound like harmonized screaming with some slight rhaspiness here or there. There’s also white noise to them, and even the instruments that completely overtake the music when it gets louder or builds up to a more engaging chorus. Basically the audio is pretty bad and really makes the music sound less thrilling, as well as removes much of the edge the tracks would have.
All of that becomes a huge let down considering some of the songs on here. While “Living Dead Beat” is a good song but not one of the band’s strongest, the single and title track of the release, “Are You Dead Yet?” is extremely catchy and varies between a more solemn atmosphere, and a more aggressive yet catchy one during the chorus, though it doesn’t really have that aggression anywhere that “Living Dead Beat” or the following war-decleration track “If You Want Peace… Prepare for War”, another strong track that sounds as heavy as it can given the audio quality and insane amount of white noise on the guitars. However, the audio quality simply does not affect the track “In Your Face” in any way. This track has a pretty strong rebellious approach at times, but for the most part is heavily relying on melody to get the point across, which it does fairly well, especially with the chorus. The stronger vocal performance and infectious chorus to the song, despite it’s simplicity, and it’s more vulgar pre-chorus all make this song one that leaves a lasting positive impression on the listener that is well worth taking the long trip to get to just to have you bang your head along during these sections that the song continuously builds up too nicely.
The slower elements on this release seem to greatly benefit from this foggier production quality, though not by much. “Punch Me I Bleed” is another atmospherically charged track at a more ballad-like pace with some great music going through much of the track, especially in the chorus which has a pretty strong emotional force behind it’s melodic elements while the rest of the song goes at a less melodic trudging pace, baring it’s teeth to a colder, grimmer environment. Of course this track keeps with the concept laid out in the previous album’s “Angels Don’t Kill” track, even down to it’s placement on the album, being the fifth song in, which makes it the literal halfway point with four songs before and after it. While this is the only slower track on the release, there are times where that same kind of slower spirit is captured in the music throughout the release, but it can picked up in the track “Bastards of Bodom” with some of the bridges used. Of course there’s also the more upbeat, faster paced “Trashed, Lost & Strungout”, another single of the album, and for good reason. Much of the limitations on the music are lost due to the stronger, catchier, and faster music, once again finding much of the most addicting hooks in the chorus, but the song still does suffer from the quality of the audio, though the vocals sound oddly different compared to the rest of the album and sound more natural compared to the higher pitched cleaner sound on “Living Dead Beat”, the preceeding track “Bastards of Bodom”, and even the following song “We’re Not Gonna Fall”. The album also includes a bonus track after “We’re Not Gonna Fall”. It’s a cover of the classic The Ramones song “Somebody Put Something in My Drink”, which is a pretty good interpretation of the Punk track into Children of Bodom‘s signature sound. and also makes a nice addition to this album.
Are You Dead Yet? isn’t really as bad an album as many people have declared it to be. While the music feels a little more experimental at times on the band’s end, showing a different side of the group, the only thing that really kills it in the end is the production. The producer of this album is the same guy mastered Hate Crew Deathroll, so the overall quality here is mindboggling and has to lie specifically in the production or even the equipment used. Either way, this foggy sounding release is held back horribly by it, and while you could sit down and have an opinion or even carry on a conversation regarding just about every song on this release, many feel like they could have been better had a richer quality been established. Songs like “Are You Dead Yet?” and “Trashed, Lost & Strungout” really show that the band hasn’t lost much of their edge and can still create some solid, addicting songs, and the bonus “Somebody Put Something In My Drink” is a catchy Punk cover turned Metal with the most respect to the source material. In the end, Children of Bodom become the victim of poor audio quality and nothing really more then that, leaving Are You Dead Yet? an album that isn’t the most jaw-dropping and follows a similar formula to Hate Crew Deathroll, but manages to sound rather different musically, which isn’t took bad considering it gives us some great songs to headbang to at the end of the day. With that and the audio quality in consideration, casual fans may turn a nose up to this release, but the hardcore fans will still find a number of reasons to come back once in a while.
01. Living Dead Beat – 5:18
02. Are You Dead Yet? – 3:55
03. If You Want Peace… Prepare for War – 3:58
04. Punch Me I Bleed – 4:51
05. In Your Face – 4:16
06. Next in Line – 4:19
07. Bastards of Bodom – 3:29
08. Trashed, Lost & Strungout – 4:02
09. We’re Not Gonna Fall – 3:26
10. Somebody Put Something in My Drink (Ramones cover) (Bonus Track) – 3:19
|Overall Score: 7/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.