Having been a solid lineup for 12 years, it was quite a surprise when rhythm guitarist Roope Latvala and Children Of Bodom parted ways this year.
Despite always playing second fiddle to born-showman Alexi Laiho, it’s interesting that the Finns’ first outing without him since Hate Crew Deathroll is a disappointingly pedestrian affair by their adrenaline-fuelled standards.
Opener I Hurt displays all the hallmarks of the Bodom sound, with chugging guitars, flashes of Janne Wirman’s opulent keyboards and a gang-vocal led chorus, before My Bodom (I Am The Only One) changes the dynamics with varied rhythms and some scintillating lead work from both Wirman and Laiho.
However, despite the odd stab of excitement, the majority of the album barely gets out of second gear, with the plodding Morrigan and Suicide Bomber passing by without so much as a sideways glance. Prayer For The Afflicted and All For Nothing’s brooding, epic melodies offer glimpses of the band at their peak. The crushing Widdershins and histrionic grandeur and percussive jolt of the title track stand high above the pack, while the standard Bodom fare of Hold Your Tongue is punctuated by some notable progressive segments. Though far from a poor effort, this is pretty standard from a band capable of so much more.