They took their name from the 1960 Lake Bodom murders, in which three Finnish teens were killed, and over 16 years the band have successfully melded melodic death metal and strident power metal, creating a niche for themselves in today’s metal scene. COB began life in Espoo as IneartheD, a band founded by school friends Alexi Laiho (guitar/ vocals) and Jaska Raatikainen (drums), inspired by a shared love of death metal. They persevered for three years as IneartheD when in 1993, on the verge of releasing their debut album, Something Wild, on a small Belgian label, the Finnish metal label Spinefarm stepped in, signing the band on the proviso that they change their name. Thus Something Wild became COB’s first release, and the band toured with Dimmu Borgir, so impressing the Norwegians’ label, Nuclear Blast, that they ended up with a Europe-wide deal. With all manner of forms of metal beginning to make an impact around Europe, COB’s technical flash and metallic intensity, plus high-octane stage shows, saw them swiftly make headway. Hatebreeder followed in 1999 and Follow The Reaper in 2001. The latter saw more progressive elements creeping into COB’s sound, yet with the frenetic guitar work of Alexi and Alexander Kuoppala and Alexi’s powerful death-metal screeching, the band retained enough of a heavy edge to make further inroads into the metal scene. COB’s golden period began in 2003 with the release of Hate Crew Deathroll. It topped the Finnish charts for three weeks and saw the band undertake their first ever world tour, making significant inroads into North America. With 2005’s Are You Dead Yet?, COB displayed a heavier sound, aptly timed for their appearance on the Unholy Alliance tour alongside Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb Of God and In Flames. Last year’s Blooddrunk was their most commercially successful album to date. COB now stand a real chance of cracking the big time and are certainly one of the Finnish metal scene’s leading lights, a fact that has no doubt been compounded by touring with the likes of Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb Of God, Trivium, Slipknot, Machine Head and Megadeth.
Children Of Bodom: Metal Detector
CHILDREN OF BODOM haven’t had the easiest of rides to the top of the metal elite. But they are kings of the kill and masters of shred.
“Children Of Bodom, to me, is what metal and rock music has been lacking in recent years: road dogs whose only interests are shredding people’s faces off with their licks and drinking your town’s supply of booze. To top it off, they do it with a precision that most would have trouble achieving when sober!”
Consolidation and moving onwards
There was a feeling, prior to Children Of Bodom releasing Blooddrunk, of exactly where the Finnish metalheads would go from here. Over the course of six albums the band had built up a reputation of being a fearsome live act with a technical proficiency in the studio that they seemed to easily align with engaging melodies and crushing metallic passages. Where other bands might have faltered, or even fallen at the first hurdle, so Children Of Bodom seemed to be almost inspired in mixing up black metal, death metal, power metal, old-school metal and even prog rock, proving themselves adept at the very first instance, and perhaps proving that a new wave of metal bands and their fans listened to metal with a more open and interested set of ears than some of their predecessors.
Blooddrunk was the album which seemed more than ever to push Children Of Bodom to the fore on an international level. Of course, with appearances on tours like Megadeth’s Gigantour, the Unholy Alliance, Wacken and the 2009 No Fear Energy tour with Lamb Of God, they’re almost old hands at working an audience and yet this maturity has also manifested itself in Their studio work from the very off. And is something they’ve got better and better at, while at the same time proving that their passion for the subject matter in hand remains unabated.
This has never been more evident than on Blooddrunk. At a little over 36 minutes and containing only nine tracks, and given the flamboyant excesses of some previous albums, on Blooddrunk this merely highlights how adept Alexi and his bandmates have become at finetuning their song-craft and musicianship. For nowhere on Blooddrunk do the band sound like they’re rushed or losing interest. They cram more into four and a half minutes of music than most bands do in an entire career. And they still find time to up the tempo – Blooddrunk is possibly the band’s thrashiest release – yet retain the symphonic swathes and sense of melody that has set Children Of Bodom apart from their peers. That’s why _Blooddrunk _is their best album. Where they go from here will be intriguing.
All the collectables from your fave bands.
Like most well-planned metal bands, Children Of Bodom are more than aware of the power of merchandising and their own website is packed to the rafters with all manner of Hate Wear.
It ranges from a selection of baby items all the way through to your normal array of t-shirts and hoodies. But Children Of Bodom go even beyond that, with a variety of jeans, shorts, jewellery, watches and all manner of COB-related items. Yes, it might be a pure money-making exercise, but you can’t help but be impressed. Check it out at: www.fanzone.fi/ cobhw/alku.cfm?lang=en. As far as t-shirts go, our favourite was the Blooddrunk one, featuring a skeletal hand in blazing red, with the band’s logo on the back.
When it comes to rarities, we suspect the real Holy Grail for Children Of Bodom fans would be to try and track down any of the first three demos the band recorded while still known as IneartheD, namely Implosion Of Heaven (1994), _The Ubiquitous __Absence Of Remission _(1995) or _Shining _(1996). We reckon any of these would be a pricey item, although they were all released on cassette so are likely to be few and far between. A trawl through eBay at the time of going to press didn’t reveal anything.
Any early Children Of Bodom single is going to be a prized item, not least the 1997 split single the band recorded with Nightwish and Thy Serpent. The featured COB track was The Carpenter from the band’s debut album Something Wild, and the single was on the Spinefarm label. There was also a split single a year later with Cryhavoc and Wizzard, featuring the track Children Of Bodom.
None of the band’s music videos have been collated as a single unit although some have appeared as bonus DVD tracks on reissues of the band’s albums. And it is the intense recent reissue campaign that has led to a plethora of Bodom-related promo CDs being widely available, be they actual albums or things like the Are You Deaf Yet? 1997-2000 promotional CD sampler, the latter being a far more prized fan item than the actual promo for the Hate Crew Deathroll album, for example. Happy hunting, folks!
Kithcen sink thrown in for good measure.
Despite a tendency to come across as somewhat humourless, Alexi Laiho and the rest of his band certainly do have a sense of humour. How else would you explain the band’s decision, prior to the release of Are You Dead Yet?, to cover Britney Spears’ Oops... I Did It Again on their Trashed, Lost And Strungout EP with tongue placed firmly in cheek? There was a bit less humour evident on Are You Dead Yet?, a name which references an accident a drunken Alexi incurred. Indeed, this is probably Children Of Bodom at their most stripped down and even features touches of industrial influence. Bastards Of Bodom’s Maiden-like guitar work showed they still favoured mixing up their metal genres, and the progressive inclinations of Punch Me I Bleed suggests a pomposity that is almost Dream Theater-like. The band’s most commercially successful release at that point.
BEST TRACK: Punch Me I Bleed
The coming of age.
How can you ignore any album on which, as the AMG website claims, “COB has become the Manowar of melodic death metal”? Perhaps not as engagingly risible as Joey de Maio and his crew, there is nevertheless something immensely engaging about COB’s unashamed revelry in all things metal. The band’s hard work paid dividends with the release of Hate Crew Deathroll, which topped the Finnish album charts for three weeks and also saw the band release a single for the first time, as well as being voted Band Of The Year at the 2003 Finnish Music Awards. They also undertook their first world tour and the feeling in the camp must have been that the band were now on their way. This is backed up with some great music, not least the crushing Sixpounder, and COB stretched themselves even further musically with the ballad-like Angels Don’t Kill.
BEST TRACK: Angels Don't Kill
COB further enhanced their sound on this, their third album, by hugely upping the keyboard quota and opting for the most power-metal approach they’d utilised up to that point. One only has to look at what songs the band added as cover versions on various reissues – Scorpions’ Don’t Stop At The Top, Maiden’s Aces High, W.A.S.P.’s Hellion – to see that for all Alexi’s death-metal grunting, the band’s roots were evenly spread across metal’s timeline and they were unafraid to mix and match styles more blinkered bands and fans would have baulked at. The epic-sounding _Everytime __I Die_ it showed the band could encroach into the mainstream without ditching the brutality of their internal drive, and therefore alienating their hardcore fanbase. However, given their near pin-up status these days, one can’t help feeling it was _Follow The Reaper_ that set them down this path.
BEST TRACK: Everytime I Die
Running wild, running free.
Children Of Bodom mainman Alexi Laiho, a critical young soul if ever there was one, originally felt he'd been too tempted to ape Yngwie Malmsteen, one of his childhood metal heroes, on Children Of Bodom's 1997 debut. While there is a touch of flash wizardry on show from the diminutive guitarist, perhaps his much later assessment - that the mixing of death metal and more traditional sounds from bands like Scorpions was the route COB opted for because everyone else was "trying to sound like Dimmu Borgir" is a more astute understanding of what the record is about. Equally Alexi now feels it's COB's most important release, and it certainly sets out the band's unique stall well enough. Pitching flourishing power metal against brutal death metal and then wrapping it up in a blanket of symphonic keyboards might have looked like a disaster on paper, but on Something Wild COB proved it could work.
BEST TRACK: Lake Bodom
Not exactly an object of hatred
'Avoid’ is probably too harsh an epithet for Children Of Bodom's second release, seeing as the band haven't really released a stinker of an album, but of the band's six studio releases, this is perhaps the least satisfying. Famously described by Alexi Laiho as "too black for heavy metal fans and too heavy metal for black metal fans", his words echo a dichotomy that has followed COB around since their inception, given the astute melding of sounds and styles they achieve. Here they're faster than on their debut, and the keyboard sounds lend a more symphonic feel, but the initial, eye-opening impact of the band's debut album, Something Wild, tends to overshadow what the band did actually achieve with Hatebreeder. And it still contains some killer tunes, not least in Black Widow, pounding opener Warheart and the excellent Children Of Bodom itself.
Best track: Children Of Bodom
1997 Something Wild [Spinefarm]
1999 Hatebreeder [Spinefarm]
1999 Tokyo Warhearts [Spinefarm]
2001 Follow The Reaper [Spinefarm]
2003 Hate Crew Deathroll [Spinefarm]
2004 Trashed, Lost & Strungout EP [Spinefarm]
2005 Are You Dead Yet? [Spinefarm]
2006 Chaos Ridden Years [Spinefarm]
2008 Blooddrunk [Spinefarm]
2009 Hellhounds On My Trail EP [Spinefarm]
Deadnight Warrior SOMETHING WILD, 1997
Lake Bodom SOMETHING WILD, 1997
Silent Night, Bodom Night HATEBREEDER, 1999
Black Widow HATEBREEDER, 1999
Bodom After Midnight (Live) FOLLOW THE REAPER, 2001
Everytime I Die FOLLOW THE REAPER, 2001
Sixpounder HATE CREW DEATHROLL, 2003
Angels Don’t Kill HATE CREW DEATHROLL, 2003
Oops... I Did It Again ARE YOU DEAD YET?, 2005
Punch Me I Bleed ARE YOU DEAD YET?, 2005
Hellhounds On My Trail BLOODDRUNK, 2008
Blooddrunk BLOODDRUNK, 2008
This was published in Metal Hammer issue 192
Children Of Bodom are playing the Ronnie James Dio Stage at the Bloodstock Open Air Festival on August 9