Death metal was never supposed to be enjoyable at all. Bands such as Death and Grave have pioneered it in Sweden and the USA. It was a niche of chainsaw-like guitar sounds, constant shouting and rushing rhythms based around abrasive noise.
The lyrics were about gore, Satanism, and terror.
Obviously, Alexi Laiho didn’t get the memo.
The singer/guitarist led the acclaimed Finnish band Children of Bodom – founded in 1997 with drummer Jaska Raatikainen – for 22 years in a genre that is primarily dark, through a career full of neo-classical melodies and anthemic compositions.
His musical back-and-forth with keyboardist Janne Wirman became the group’s heart and soul during that time, bringing new levels of vibrancy to extreme metal.
Children of Bodom sadly split ways in 2019, and their former frontman passed away at the age of 41 barely a year later. Although his contemporaries seemed to shy away from exuberance, Laiho was a fearless, flamboyant and charismatic rock star. On his debut album, Something Wild, which he recorded when he was just 18, his virtuoso guitar playing was evident.
Laiho brought that soaring complexity to even heavier music influenced by legends like Yngwie Malmsteen, just as Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads brought their classical training to hard rock and heavy metal, respectively.
Laiho played to those harmonic strengths as a songwriter, retaining the seething roar and frantic speed of death metal, but also ensuring that each Bodom track was an anthem in its own right. Hate Me!”Hate Me!”Hatecrew Death Roll”Hatecrew Death Roll”Bodom After Midnight”Bodom After Midnight” Even when he was static at the microphone, guitar in hand, he was articulate and interactive; his charm, precision and ability attracted the respect of his peers and helped inspire a new generation of would-be metal heroes. Unlike many others, the magnetism of Laiho’s rock star was not a facade.
The then-teenager was dubbed “Wild Child,” even before Bodom was created, due not only to his passion for flamboyant U.S. metallers WASP, but also to his inimitable restlessness. “The frontman confessed to Metal Hammer’s Joel McIver in 2008, “It’s pretty lame that I’m in my 30s and still calling myself Wild Child,” but there’s no denying the precision.
He was taught to drive by his father at the age of 10. His drinking in the 2000s and 2010s was the stuff of underground metal legends, until leaving in 2013. His untouchability was the only rock star behavior that Laiho did not show. Family, friends and fans know he was down-to-earth and a pleasure to be around. After Laiho’s death, Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton tweeted, “Alexi Laiho was a monumental talent and a genuine, caring and thoughtful person,” “the most humble and sweet person.” said wife Kelli Wright-Laiho. Singer Mille Petrozza called him “Alexi was the most loving and awesome husband and father,” “Our hearts are forever broken. “The lifestyle of rock ‘n’ roll never hindered the momentum of the Children of Bodom.
The band released an impressive three albums between 1997 and 2000; the latter fourth (2003’s Hatecrew Death Roll) topped the Finnish album charts.
In 2008, Blooddrunk reached the UK Top 50, consistently following a new album every three years. The surviving members of Children of Bodom said in a statement after his death that “Laiho suffered from long-term health problems in his last years.” However, until the end, the musician was able to maintain an impressively active schedule, both on tour and in the studio. In March 2019, Hexed, the last Bodom album, came out and was followed by extensive touring in Europe and the United States.
Laiho immediately worked on a follow-up album, Bodom After Midnight, with former bandmate Daniel Freyberg, after the group’s breakup. Three songs and a music video were posthumously released by the pair. Despite his horribly untimely death, Alexi Laiho remains a bright spot in death metal’s grim nihilism. His vitality and charisma were unusual talents, but he took full advantage of them, making one of the most macabre types of heavy