Many, I’m sure, heard the sad news of Alexi Laiho. Metal truly lost one of the greatest. Listen to just about any Children Of Bodom song, and you quickly realize the talent Alexi possesses as a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. It is no secret among those who know me personally that Children Of Bodom is one of my favorite bands. Therefore, I was honored when I was asked to write this piece on how I got into Bodom. I was already a metalhead before I ever heard Children of Bodom but they were my introduction into the European metal scene and interestingly, led to the expansion of my Bach and Vivaldi collections too (you’ll see why).
Funny thing is, the first Bodom song I ever heard was their cover of Britney Spear’s Oops I did it Again. The moment Alexi started shredding in the solo, I knew this band was for real! Any band who bothers to write two guitar solos for a Britney Spears cover must be musically insane! I immediately started looking up their discography.
The first album I listened to was Follow The Reaper and I was blown away! The guitar and keyboard solos were just a complete mindgasm! (For me, this is one of my favorite albums. If you do nothing else after reading this article at least listen to this album start to finish.) This led me to the rest of the discography. Personally, the first five albums are my favorites. Something Wild and Hatebreeder are definitely more neoclassical with influences from Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart. Follow the Reaper is more symphonic and power metal driven. Hate Crew Deathroll and Are you Dead Yet are more groove and rhythm driven. All these albums, and the later ones, shine in their own light.
Alexi’s vocals were probably the one thing that made some people shy away from the band. I always enjoyed them but I can see why some people didn’t like them. Nevertheless, it was amazing that he was doing double duty as lead vocalist and lead guitarist even when performing live! One of my favorite tracks that display his vocal prowess is the Warmen cover of Somebody’s Watching Me. Alexi’s vocals truly brings the impression of crazed paranoia to the forefront and adds a welcome edge to an already great song.
I was lucky enough to see Children Of Bodom live five times. Alexi absolutely commanded the stage with his presence. He gave off the vibe of a genius conductor guiding all the instruments especially when they were playing their older neoclassical songs. It was surreal to see Alexi and Janne (keyboardist) pulling off the difficult licks and exchanging solos live!
Seeing them live usually required driving 3 hours to Chicago on a weeknight after work. The shows were absolutely worth it, but the worst part was driving 3 hours back home after the show got done at midnight. I would barely make it back to town at 3 or 4 in the morning, get 2 hours of sleep, and crawl back to work. I always thought the struggle was worth it to see and support a band I loved. After hearing the news of Alexi’s passing, those trips became infinitely more worth it.
I’m glad I was among the many fans who supported Alexi and the band when they toured. Like Children Of Bodom, many bands pour their hearts, soul, and a lot of their own money to tour (especially the openers). If you get an opportunity to see your favorite band live and you can make it work, take the leap and go for it! Life throws all kinds of curve balls. Before you know it the band you love could be gone.
Many metal bands including Children Of Bodom were influenced by the father of metal himself, Johann Sebastian Bach. Today Bach is revered not only by metalheads but by the greater musical community. Fast forward to present time and you can tell many bands have been greatly influenced by Children Of Bodom. Alexi’s songwriting was truly revolutionary, and he was able to evolve the sound with each subsequent album.
It cannot be understated how sad it is to lose Alexi Laiho. I hope he goes down in history for the great musical pioneer he was. The metal community may be crying the loudest, but humanity truly did lose one of the greatest musicians and songwriters who ever lived. Rest in peace Alexi. You will forever be missed.