The Wildchild Rests: A Tribute to Alexi Laiho

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 19: Portrait of Finnish musician Alexi Laiho, guitarist and vocalist with heavy metal group Children of Bodom photographed at The Grove Music Studios in London on August 19, 2015. (Photo by Joby Sessions/Total Guitar Magazine/Future via Getty Images)

2020 was absolutely shit, no matter how you dress it up, it was fucking bollocks and now we’re not allowed 2021 to give us any respite because only a few days after the stroke of midnight on the January 1st, 2021, it was announced that Alexi Laiho, vocalist and guitarist of Children of Bodom (CoB) was found dead at his home in Helsinki. For me, this is becoming a far too regular occurrence, sitting down and writing my thoughts about a musician who has recently passed away; but as always, I will do my best to provide a fitting tribute to a real, down to earth heavy metal legend.

                Buying Kerrang! Is a sort of rite of passage for British teenagers who are given over to an alternative persuasion in their music. For me, this was in the mid-to-late 90’s when grunge and Britpop were dying and nu-metal was kicking off to the big time; but in amongst these fanboying fads, there was some nuggets of brilliance and Children of Bodom were just one of these discoveries for a teenage me. The year was 1999 and CoB had just released the monstrous ‘Hatebreeder’ and after perusing through that particular Kerrang! issue, I decided to use what little money I had to purchase that album. This album would be album that would take my CoB virginity and of course, what an album to lose it, ‘Hatebreeder’ was an eye opener, not only is it one of CoB’s best albums, up there with ‘Follow the Reaper’, but it is also one of the best metal albums of the 90’s and behind it all was the little wizard Alexi Laiho.

                Laiho may only have been wee in stature, but the man was an enormous well of talent. Laiho had a distinct growl that was so inviting, it was able to drag so many listeners and was instantly identifiable as CoB. Furthermore, it wasn’t just Laiho’s voice, his talent also extended well into his guitar playing; not only is this guitar playing also as equally recognisable as his voice, but Laiho is a master craftsman, a mad scientist capable of splicing neo-classical guitar playing in with touches of power metal and melodic death metal. In essence, this made the man a pioneer, a giant in his field as CoB navigated the choppy waters of various fad trends to continue refining their unique sound. Even now, as I write this merely hours after learning of Laiho’s passing, just the thought of ‘Hatebreeder’ and ‘Follow the Reaper’ instantly transports me back to my bedroom at my parent’s house as those records blasted out of my hi-fi. Unlike many bands that I got into that were already thoroughly established, the likes of your Sabbath, Purple, Metallica, Slayer etc, CoB were mine, they grew with me and yes, I didn’t quite like all of their output, but they were always with me and now, Laiho’s legacy will always be there, his body may no longer be here, but his soul and passion lives on in CoB’s music. On that rather sombre bombshell, RIP Alexi Laiho; a pioneer, a maestro and a heavy metal legend.

Alexi Laiho (1979-2020)

Adam McCann

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