Children Of Bodom’s blackened Hexed album is the sound of a band back on track

Finland’s melodeath favourites Children Of Bodom regain their bearings on new album Hexed

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Hexed tracklist

1. The Road
2. Under Grass And Clover
3. Glass Houses
4. Hecate’s Nightmare
5. Kick In The Spleen
6. Platitudes And Barren Words
7. Hexed
8. Relapse (The Nature Of My Crime)
9. Say Never Look Back
10. Soon Departed
11. Knuckleduster

Children Of Bodom were a revelation back in 2003 when they hit their creative and critical peak with Hate Crew Deathroll. Since then, the Finns have toyed about with their celebrated sound, but with mixed results, scaling back the chilly atmospherics and settling into a groove that’s often at odds with the sharp end of their blackened melodeath.

However, when Under Grass And Clover, the lead single from Hexed, hit the internet back in December, it caused a ripple of excitement amongst a fanbase who had been mostly left cold by the band’s 2015 album, I Worship Chaos. Frantic and rammed with squealing solos and epic keys, it felt like the welcome return of an energy that had been largely absent from the band’s recent material.

So old-school fans will be pleased to hear there is indeed much to celebrate on Children Of Bodom’s 10th album. A lot of that is down to keyboardist Janne Wirman, whose power metal flourishes have been thrust satisfyingly forward in order to drive the album’s adrenaline-fuelled pace. Knotty opener This Road flips between a furious gallop and mid-tempo riffery and Glass Houses also bears the hallmarks of classic Children Of Bodom, with a blazing lead that sprawls right off the page, before Hecate’s Nightmare offers up a chugging change in speed, with a nod to Enter Sandman’s tiptoe-through-the-castle chords and a bellow-worthy chorus to boot.

They’re not all zingers; the blackened ooze that’s always glued each incarnation of Bodom’s sound together is frontman Alexi Laiho’s penchant for writing infectious hooks, and the album does dip in terms of memorability on Relapse (The Nature Of My Crime) and the leaden Soon Departed. But Hexed ends on a high, closing with a keyboard-driven reworking of Knuckleduster, originally from the 2004 Trashed, Lost & Strungout EP, a move that neatly bridges the old Bodom with the new. Without a doubt, this is the most revitalised they’ve sounded in years.

Hexed is released on March 8 via Nuclear Blast and is available to pre-order now