Cursed might be an overstatement. But there’s no getting around it: Over the past several years and albums, it’s been hard not to feel like veteran Finnish flamethrowers Children of Bodom have been slowly but surely losing their malevolent mojo. Thankfully, it now appears they’ve done something to appease the Dark Overlord, based on the unfailingly ferocious return to form of their 10th album Hexed. After four years away, singer-guitarist and evil ringleader Alexi Laiho and his minions sound recharged and rejuvenated, unleashing fresh hell on 10 blazing, stilleto-sharp cuts of pitch-black metal magic. The double-bass beats thunder and charge like Satan’s cavalry, the keyboards add rich layers of power-metal grandeur, the guitar riffs bite harder than a rabid wolverine and Laiho’s razor blade-and-brimstone rasp has never sounded more fiendish and diabolical. Consider the spell broken.
STANDOUTS: Kicked in a Spleen, Hexed, Relapse.