Remembering Alexi Laiho


Written by: ScreamingSteelUS
Published: 05.01.2021


We awoke this morning to the news that Alexi Laiho, founder, guitarist, and vocalist of Children Of Bodom, had passed away at the age of 41. It was already enough of an enervating shock to learn, a little over a year ago now, that Children Of Bodom would be splitting up after 26 years, with Alexi, to much bewilderment among fans, continuing without his longtime comrades under the name Bodom After Midnight, but to hear that our shred-happy Wildchild has died at half the age he should have is like taking a six-six-sixpounder to the chest.

Just as certain artists take on special significance to individual fans, so do they often grow in status among particular communities, and Children Of Bodom is a band of unique importance to Metal Storm itself. Of course, they're one of the most popular bands featured on this site, currently ranked #12 in terms of fan numbers, and they have always been one of the most visible, with 11 appearances in the Metal Storm Awards since 2005 (often for Biggest Letdown, I'm afraid - we didn't start the MSAs until the year after Hate Crew Deathroll would have been eligible). They were also one of the first bands added to the site, holding the ID number of 72 in a roster that is currently approaching 14,000; one of our earliest staff reviews was Dream Taster's absolutely glowing endorsement of Follow The Reaper back in 2003 (a little late, but nonetheless impassioned). But the most prominent, most enduring, and most special connection that we have with Bodom, and Alexi Laiho specifically, is that Alexi served (unwittingly) as the model for Metal Storm's mascot, the Metal Hero. I don't believe I've ever seen the original photograph that the image references, but for most of Metal Storm's life, that proud, guitar-wielding champion has held his axe aloft in the top corner of the site, welcoming all those who stumble onto our humble little .ee/.eu/.net domain. He cuts an impressive silhouette, carving out a heroic, triangular pose that would make a Renaissance painter proud as he raises to the sky one of his signature Vs (whether ESP or Jackson, I couldn't say, but it's not exactly intended to be photorealistic anyway); it has something of Worker And Kolkhoz Woman in it, a monumental image that rallies observers to its cause and is really too pompous for our own good.



While Metal Storm's mascot is officially not Alexi Laiho per se, instead being a generic sort of personage going by the aforesaid name of "Metal Hero," we nonetheless feel a peculiar sting of sorrow at Alexi's untimely death, something a little sharper than merely the loss of a well-known personage in the metal community. He likely never suspected it, but he was, in a roundabout way, a person uniquely connected to Metal Storm. He was, to us, iconic - and iconic in a sense much closer to the original meaning than what the term is appended to nowadays, when it's used as a diluted marker of average value when something slightly less banal than "cool" is needed but the thesaurus is too far away. Without seeing him, I can picture Alexi perfectly: long, blond hair spilling out from under a black beanie, arms draped over a lopsided black-and-something V, camo cargo pants swallowing up black skate shoes, black nail polish, black sweatbands, chain necklace, eyeliner, and a soul patch. Maybe in some way he represented the transition from Gothenburg to mallcore, because I can remember Bodom being pumped into Hot Topic and there's definitely some MySpace in that melodeath, but whatever you might say about his ensemble, he had an image, and in a scene where grey is considered too colorful and owning more than one pair of jeans is heretical, having an image counts for something (even if it's still mostly black).

I myself wasn't really swayed by his "even altier Avril Lavigne" appeal the way some of my female acquaintances were in the late 2000s, but I felt the memories flooding back when I put on "Follow The Reaper," the first track that galloped into my mind as I lay in bed reading the news on my phone earlier today. I've never considered Children Of Bodom one of my "favorite" metal bands, but you don't always choose the things that are important to you; I may not nurse unqualified affection for any of their albums post-Hatebreeder, nor have I ever fallen head-over-heels for their style, nor are they the first band that comes to mind when I'm asked about what I listen to, but I remember buying Blooddrunk shortly after it came out back in 2008. It had to be 2007 or so that I first discovered Bodom, almost certainly through one of their many, many covers - whether it was "Aces High" or W.A.S.P.'s "Hellion" or the Ramones's "Somebody Put Something In My Drink," I don't recall, but they were into a lot of bands that I was into, and thus we collided. It was half my life ago, when I was still very new to metal, before I had any desire to tolerate harsh vocals, and though I'm now aware that it is not looked upon especially kindly among Bodom albums, Blooddrunk was somewhat foundational for me. I followed it swiftly with Hate Crew Deathroll and Follow The Reaper, making a trilogy of albums whose Mach-speed guitar-and-synth combos, ragged growls, and sinister bass bludgeoning helped usher me into the caverns of more extreme forms of metal. That crunchy four-chord progression in "Chokehold (Cocked'N'Loaded)", the chuggy bridge riff in "Bodom After Midnight," the addictive grooves in "Blooddrunk," and the super-edgy declarations of "Hate Me" all formed a crucial part of my evolving metal mentality. And, of course, "Angels Don't Kill," possessed of a gorgeously slow, malevolent, creepy riff that shook me a little bit when I first heard it.



I'm just now realizing that I saw Children Of Bodom six times, all between 2011 and 2016, which makes them possibly second only to Sabaton for me in terms of show count. I didn't plan that, but they were just a band I always figured I should catch whenever they were in town. That first time, on July 14, 2011, at the Jaxx Nightclub in Springfield, Virginia, was a very special occasion; I was in high school at the time and convinced my dad to drive me and one of my best friends, who was at the time quite enamored of Alexi, and so we made a two-hour round trip on a Thursday night for Bodom and three bands we'd never heard of (thanks, Dad). The first, whom we sadly missed, was Obscura; the second was Septicflesh, of whom we caught just enough to convince me to buy The Great Mass right then and there; the third was Devin Townsend, whom I had never heard of before seeing his name on the bill and who has since become one of my favorite musicians. I owe Bodom just for that introduction alone; looking back, I do remember that show mostly for discovering Septicflesh, meeting Devin, and watching my friend push right past him to win the attention of the decidedly more dashing Christian Muenzner. At the time, though, it was all about Bodom for me. I still recall feeling that seeing Children Of Bodom at that little club was one of the most significant things I'd ever done up to that point. Waiting in tense anticipation of "In Your Face" (which was eventually delivered), head-banging along to "Blooddrunk," and feeling the air turn infernal as "Angels Don't Kill" ignited the place... it was a time and a place and a sensation that, as a teenager, consumed my whole world. The time I spent waiting for and then reliving that show just about dominated the summer of 2011 for me.

Halo Of Blood was so exciting when it came out, and I Worship Chaos equally uninspiring, and then Hexed again surprising; the needle sure fluctuated over the years, but I could have accepted Hexed as the final Children Of Bodom album. If their swan song had to arrive so soon, at least it was a respectable one. Now, however, it's more than merely a band that has left us. Now, I'm hearing the sample from The Exorcist III at the end of "Follow The Reaper" - "I was only 21 when I died" - and thinking that Alexi was pitifully young himself. Inearthed, the band that would later become Children Of Bodom, was formed in 1993, when Alexi was only 14 years old, and their first demo was released the next year; he was just 18 when Something Wild hit the streets. The vast majority of Alexi's life was spent as part of a band, whether Bodom or Impaled Nazarene or Sinergy or his other projects, and he accumulated quite an impressive number of albums, fans, and honors in that time, but it was all too brief. As good as Hexed is, as curious as I was about Bodom After Midnight, I can't say anything like "he went out on a high note." Dying at 41 isn't any kind of a grand finale. It's just upsetting.



Right now I'm listening to Children Of Bodom a lot more intently than I have in a while - probably since Halo Of Blood. I'm on my eighth album of the day and I'm thinking about how I'll miss Alexi having far too much fun on his ridiculous covers, summoning electricity with the signature sound of his licks, and slunking onstage looking too much like Skwisgaar Skwigelf, in whom he is obliquely immortalized just as in our MS mascot (according to some theories, anyway). I'll always be able to pull out those beautifully color-coded albums and throw on Hatebreeder or Hate Crew Deathroll or Halo Of Blood when I'm in the mood to skulk around the murder-lake for a while, but that's not the same as seeing the tour announcements, getting studio updates, waiting eagerly to see what comes of his next project. I guess I'll have to dig out one of my Bodom shirts and get used to this idea of a Laiho-less world that greeted me this morning. I don't much like it.

Rest in peace, Wildchild.





 



Written on 05.01.2021 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 20   Visited by: 355 users
05.01.2021 - 04:00
katatonia75
Rest in peace legend 🤘🖤😪🙏🌠👏
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05.01.2021 - 04:29
moe5512
While I have kind of left Metal behind me COB is always a returning favourite. They were for me, as for many others, an introducing band to the more harsher subgenres. He will always be my most influental guitarist. I usually am able to take some distance to people I didn't know passing away but this hit me hard.
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05.01.2021 - 07:08
tempoklad
Amazing post @ScreamingSteelUS,

Alexi would be proud of reading it
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05.01.2021 - 09:17
Windrider
Raureif
Thanks for this great article, it really captures what I also feel.

For me personally, there is one more aspect to that - Because CoB were the one band who got me into metal actually. Hate Me was the first song with non-clean vocals that I ever heard, and I thought "man, that is so fucking cool". Years later they inspired me to pick up the guitar myself.

In my first young days here on MS as the newbie I found myself defending CoB as the "true melodeath" band, something which nowadays gives me more of a cringe feeling. But the genius in the music was always there, and it was always there for me as well.

I can geniunely say that without Alexi, my musical path would have been different.
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05.01.2021 - 10:36
nikarg
Mod
Great write-up. I do not feel particularly connected to CoB but I do get how this was a gateway band for many people into extreme metal. Their music was never the style I am into but Follow The Reaper is an album that I can happily listen and re-listen from start to finish and Hexed was unexpectedly good. I hope the Bodom After Midnight album gets released if it is up to that level, otherwise it is better to have Hexed as the last memory of Alexi.

Way too young to go, way too talented, and way too influential. May he rest in peace.
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05.01.2021 - 13:33
Woofy
My idol died...I can't even...I'm speechless...
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My music: https://jimt.bandcamp.com/
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05.01.2021 - 13:57
Zap
Phlegmish
Quote:
I don't believe I've ever seen the original photograph that the image references


If I remember correctly it was on the Tokyo Warhearts disc and/or booklet. It's actually what immediately drew me in to Metal Storm, since at the time I was still big into CoB and immediately recognized one of my then favourite guitar players.

Great write up anyhow.
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And the tears that we will weep today
Will all be washed away
By the tears that we will weep again tomorrow
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05.01.2021 - 14:25
nikarg
Mod
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05.01.2021 - 15:31
scorp18
Back in the early 00s I was really into Finnish Power/Symphonic Metal, but never into CoB. Still Alexi Laiho was much respected and I didn't expect his passing to affect me but it did. R.I.P.
By the way, it might be a good chance to fix the F.A.Q. about the logo and change the line where you write that he is not a metal hero to that he was one...
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05.01.2021 - 16:38
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 05.01.2021 at 10:36

Great write-up. I do not feel particularly connected to CoB but I do get how this was a gateway band for many people into extreme metal. Their music was never the style I am into but Follow The Reaper is an album that I can happily listen and re-listen from start to finish and Hexed was unexpectedly good. I hope the Bodom After Midnight album gets released if it is up to that level, otherwise it is better to have Hexed as the last memory of Alexi.

Way too young to go, way too talented, and way too influential. May he rest in peace.


Nice comment, this was true love or hate band, even some in tower here hatet this band. I never stuck whit it, did listen when I was young, later I did not liked, but somehow first 5 albums are classics now. Underated band in some way
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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05.01.2021 - 16:40
Spacerunner
Written by nikarg on 05.01.2021 at 10:36
I do get how this was a gateway band for many people into extreme metal.

And for some of us out of extreme metal
Back in 2000 I was all about bands like Slayer and Vader. And that year post-Soviet countries saw first "licensed" albums $4 apiece from the small company FONO. They were based in St. Petersburg and knew guys from Spinefarm so among their first releases were Nightwish and Children of Bodom. Around January 2001 "Follow the Reaper" got in my hands and I was blown away by the melodic and emotional strength of the music. Then "Clayman" followed and "Wishmaster" sealed the deal. To this day my favorite metal genres are power and MDM.
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06.01.2021 - 01:01
Traezeus
R.I.P.

Can't believe this.
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06.01.2021 - 02:45
JunN_Vai
Written by nikarg on 05.01.2021 at 14:25



and that is.....the Metal Storm logo came from
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06.01.2021 - 03:47
tintinb
COB's music transcended boundaries. I remember in a college fest one of the bands did a COB cover, forgot which song but they did an excellent job out of it. Most of us got really excited at the idea that we are finally listening to some metal other than the usual suspects and that was the first song that inspired a moshpit that day (my first time in a pit). This was almost 14 years ago. Even today a typical metalhead will pick COB as his favourite melodeath band, that after so much has been done in this genre. Alexi Laiho's contribution in taking this band to such an iconic level is immense, and he will be sorely missed by the metal world.

Rest in peace, Alexi.
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07.01.2021 - 15:39
Warman
Erotic Stains
COB and Alexi are without a doubt one of the most important bands/artists for me. Not just for my musical taste but also the person I am. I was introduced to them in 2003, 13 years old and they were, besides Metallica and Iron Maiden, the only bands I listened to for two years. In 2005 I googled "bands like Children of Bodom" and found Norther on this site. MS is where I then spent most of my teens online.

In 2006 I went to my second concert. It was the Stockholm Knockout show. To this day, 15 years and about 150 concerts later, it is still one of the greatest shows I have ever attended.

COB is everything to me. Alexi was for many years in my life THE best. Neil Peart's passing was really tough. This one was so tough that I haven't really realized it yet.
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08.01.2021 - 12:23
HyperDrifter
Written by Warman on 07.01.2021 at 15:39

COB and Alexi are without a doubt one of the most important bands/artists for me. Not just for my musical taste but also the person I am. I was introduced to them in 2003, 13 years old and they were, besides Metallica and Iron Maiden, the only bands I listened to for two years. In 2005 I googled "bands like Children of Bodom" and found Norther on this site. MS is where I then spent most of my teens online.


Wow your story is eerily similar to mine, I was similar age when I first discovered Children of Bodom and back then I only really listened to Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Korn and Linkin Park.
I also found similar bands by looking up who was similar and discovered Norther and Eternal Tears of Sorrow.
Like many others have said, Bodom was a gateway into more extreme and melodic metal for me and broadened my horizons from just the same 4 bands.
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09.01.2021 - 01:52
s(AINT)
What a beautiful tribute to a true guitar hero and a metal legend. I was shocked by the news because, as sad as it was to see Children Of Bodom disband, I was happy knowing that Alexi got Bodom After Midnight together and they were in the recording studio as recently as December.

I've always really liked their music and funnily enough, knew about Norther and was really into them before even hearing of Bodom, so when I finally discovered them, it was a breadth of fresh air and love at first listen. Even though COB never springs to mind when thinking about my favourite bands, and I listen to a lot of different bands across a range of subgenres and spend more than a thousand hours/year on spotify, being curious I had a look at my lifetime spotify statistics and COB came up as my 12th most listened artist which I think can be considered as one of the most favourite bands, I guess, especially seeing bands which do spring to mind, far down below on that list.

Unfortunately, I managed to see them live only once, at Bloodstock in 2019 (full set can be found on the festival's channel) and I remember being very excited particularly about them. Needless to say, it was a fantastic set and I loved it and couldn't wait to see them again.. Sadly, a couple of months later they announced their disbandment. Speaking of COB's final album, Hexed, I was stoked for its release based on the singles and when it came out, it hit me like a ton of bricks - the album is just that good, probably the best out of the last 5 or maybe even 6 albums.

I feel like I'm in the same boat with many others, whose comments I've seen, that neither COB nor Alexi seem to always be relevant in my life, but having paused and thought about it, they always have been, which is why this news hit me really hard.. The metal community lost a legend, may he rest in riffs and power.. \m/
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10.01.2021 - 02:01
wildchild
Warchild
Lovely article. MS is part of my life, as Alexi was.

Glad this website is still up. :~
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warchildpost.blogspot.com
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10.01.2021 - 22:02
Death
I saw Child of Bodom in spring 2019 and Alexi looked very sick during the concert. When he first came on to the stage at first I couldn't believe that it was him because he looked extremely skinny, malnourished almost. He had no energy to move on the stage at all. It was eerie hearing other people around me at the concert all talk about this when we saw him.

I'm so upset to hear he didn't recover. Rest in peace Alexi, I'll remember you through your music.
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14.01.2021 - 08:21
lemme
Written by moe5512 on 05.01.2021 at 04:29

While I have kind of left Metal behind me COB is always a returning favourite. They were for me, as for many others, an introducing band to the more harsher subgenres. He will always be my most influental guitarist. I usually am able to take some distance to people I didn't know passing away but this hit me hard.


Yep, those are mine words too! I am listening to COB permanently since 4'th january, since friend send me that sad info...damn...
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