Today it was announced that Alexi Laiho has passed away. Known for his work with Children of Bodom as well as with Sinergy, Kylähullut, Warmen, Impaled Nazarene and following the end of Children of Bodom in 2019, Bodom After Midnight; his new band which apparently will have some material released posthumously.
To say that his passing was a surprise is an understatement. At 41 he’d achieved a lot but he was far from looking done. Despite his varied work elsewhere, his flagship was Children of Bodom, a band that defied typical genre classification and developed extreme metal into a diverse but also ever growing genre. His guitar playing prowess brought him such honours as guitar world marking him one of 100 top guitarists of heavy metal and one of 50 fastest ever guitarists, roadrunner marked him as one of their 50 greatest all time frontmen, Total Guitar took a public vote of best guitarists and he was number one of 20 with over 20% of the votes, he also led the 100 guitars from hell in Helsinki performance.
The man had, oddly enough, declared ‘Are You Dead Yet?’ as a statement, album and song, bringing widespread attention to Children of Bodom, which gave a positive, yet morbid, affirmation of continued creative achievement. The ever growing skeletons in his closet (as crowned by the Children of Bodom cover album), showed the fun and recognisable style of the guitarist to take metal into ever surprising cover songs.
The neo-classical melodic death metal (a close missing-of-the-sound genre title) reaching for more genres within extreme metal in Children of Bodom. Whilst this isn’t to forget him taking guitars into ever explorative areas with the hardcore punk Kylähullut, the power metal of Synergy and Warmen not to mention other extreme metal endeavours and guest spots.
Personally, I remember the first time I heard ‘Black Widow’ by Children of Bodom. I remember all the times ‘Everytime I Die’ and ‘Hate Me’ helped me get through shit. I remember seeing them live, again and again and again and even at their worst they were amazing. I remember being amazed that Virgin Megastore would play his music, even if it was whilst they were doing a signing for the single ‘Blooddrunk’. I remember finding ‘Are you Dead Yet?’ on metal karaoke and giving it a bloody hard try. I remember all the times that I found guitar lines stuck in my head, only to find that they were Alexi Laiho’s music, covers, riffs or solos. Even when I wasn’t listening to his music, it was still underpinning what I did, making me feel happy, energetic and stronger. I have so many memories of Alexi Laiho.
Alexi Laiho has left behind a vast legacy, really developing and continuing metal into new areas and depths. Fast, rough and powerful, his accomplishments with the guitar are phenomenal and instantly recognisable. As a singer, his work was mostly with Children of Bodom, a rasped vocal, black metal inspired, but almost punk-esque shout. A surprisingly varied metal musician bringing out music at an incredible speed, touching so many. Giving anthems: “I don’t give a fuck if you hate me”, “Should I regret or ask myself, are you dead yet?” and personal for all of his hate crew: “We’re the hate crew, we stand and we won’t fall, we’re all for none and none for all, Fuck you! We’ll stand until the last hit, and we sure as hell aint taking no shit.” It just got more painful, this time he died.
Our hearts go out to his friends, family and all his fans, as we know that they’ll all be touched like we are by what he accomplished and are saddened by this loss.