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What is there to say about Children of Bodom that hasn’t been said yet?
That they have the songs AND the skill?
That very few come even close to what CoB is doing?
That they ARE state of the art?
In the last eight or so years, the band that darted to international fame with their debut, 1997’s “Something Wild”, has gone from being “this amazing band from Finland” to a household name in the metalscene. And that, of course, is obvious given the intensity, sheer quality of their material and the flawless execution.
Make no mistake, Children of Bodom do not play around. They’re here to kill.
Formed in 1993 and hailing from the city of Espoo, Finland, this young Finnish group took their name from one of the biggest murder mysteries in the history of their home town and Finnish crime: the murders at the Lake Bodom. After starting out as a trash-metal combo, the founding members Alexi Laiho (guitars and vocals), Jaska Raatikainen (drums), Henkka Seppala (bass) and Alexander Kuoppala (guitars) soon found elements of classic heavy metal creeping into their music. After taking in keyboardist Janne Wirman to complete their line-up, they honed their combination of old schoold black metal, classic heavy, and death metal vocals into the sharpest instrument of its kind and headed out to a studio record a demo tape.
After Spinefarm Records received Children of Bodom’s “Deadnight Warrior” demo, it didn’t take long for the company to figure out what they had in their hands back in late 1996. Three spins of ‘Deadnight Warrior’ later, the band was signed and ready to knock a few heads off.
Their debut single was the self-titled hit single "Children of Bodom" which went straight to number 1 on the Finnish charts and sold platinum. The debut full-length album “Something Wild” was released in Finland in 1997, and the whole Finnish metal scene was on its knees. The Bodoms supported Dimmu Borgir at the band's Helsinki show in November and were hailed as the new kings of Finnish underground metal by the press. Licensing deal with Nuclear Blast for central Europe was inked quickly and soon after Middle Europe the album was also released in Japan and Thailand.
Soon CoB. was flying all over Europe and writing new material that would become the “Hatebreeder” album, which was released in February 1999. On “Hatebreeder” their music had found its true shape: the album was faster, heavier and more versatile than “Something Wild”. Pre-“Hatebreeder” single “Downfall” (which also included the cover song "No Commands" from the finnish thrash metal pioneers, Stone) went gold and ruled the Finnish charts.
During the summer -99 Children Of Bodom toured Finland and Europe. In June they did three sold out gigs in Japan with Dark Tranquillity and Sinergy and recorded the ultimate live CD: "Tokyo Warhearts-Live in Japan". For those of you who think it was way too early to release a live cd after just two studio albums, “Tokyo Warhearts” proves you wrong! "Tokyo Warhearts" came out as a limited digibook-edition in Europe in October and all the 20.000 copies of it were almost immediately sold out. The buzz around the band was reaching new heights.
Before heading to the studio again, CoB’s guitarist / vocalist Alexi Laiho found time to write songs and play on the Sinergy album "To Hell and Back", while keyboardist Janne Wirman recorded an extraordinary solo project "Unknown Soldier", under the guise of Warmen, proving that Children of Bodom are no one man show, with every member contributing to their unique sound.
In 2000 the single "Hate Me!" went #1 at the Finnish charts and sold gold in Finland in just a couple of weeks. Platinum sales (more than 10000 copies) soon followed. While the single was topping the charts, Children Of Bodom finished their studio sessions at Peter Tagtgren's Abyss Studio, and the third album "Follow the Reaper" saw the light of day on the 30th of October 2000.
"Follow the Reaper" was a glorious mixture of their debut album's heavy riffing raw sound, combined with "Hatebreeder" monstrous technical metal acrobatics. The most noticable thing however was how much the band had improved as a unit and in bringing the personal levels of musicianship to a new high.
After recording “Follow The Reaper” at Peter Tagtgren’s infamous Abyss Studio, the band decided to return to the loving arms of a CoB trustee, Anssi Kippo, and the bowels of Astia Studio. The result was nothing short of breathtaking.
On “Hate Crew Deathroll”, which was released in January 2003, not only did the band take their songwriting into new levels of aggressivity and heaviness but the way the songs were carried out pummeled everything they -or anyone, for that matter- had done into dust.
On “Hate Crew Deathroll” Alexi Laiho spits out his lyrics with vitriolic hate, the guitars (courtesy of Alexi and Alexander Kuoppala) shred everything in their wake with razorsharp precision while the rhythmsection (the demolition duo of Henkka T. Blacksmith & Jaska W. Raatikainen) pounds away like the world is about to end. As a final coup de grace come the keyboards of Janne Warman, making sure the path of destruction is complete with the fervour and precision of a seasoned executioner on a killing spree.
In the Summer of 2003, Alexander Kuoppala left the band and was replaced by Roope Latvala, whose stellar playing had already graced countless of Finnish metal records. Being perhaps the most widely acclaimed metal guitarist in Finland ever, Roope’s flexible playing style and strange sense of harmony was a strong influence on CoB by the way of his early nineties speed metal band Stone.
In 2004 the band tested their new line-up on a four-track EP and a separate DVD-EP “Trashed, Lost & Strungout” that gave a little taster of the future alongside with two great cover songs. The EP was an introduction to a new-found drive, a rougher edge, still sounding definitely and unmistakeably very CoB.
After the relase of the successful mini-album, Children of Bodom barricaded themselves into studio Hastholmen, Helsinki, to record their next full-length album together with producer / mixer / engineer guru Mikko Karmila. The result was “Are You Dead Yet?”, title of which is merely rhetorical: the fourth studio album from the trailblazing Finnish metal hate crew is killer stuff throughout.
Children of Bodom have come a long way since their humble beginnings, and today stand tall in the all time extreme metal hall of fame, commanding the respect and awe of both fans and colleagues alike. Children of Bodom have been hugely influential, but still, eight years down the road east and west alike, remain the leaders of the genre. “Are You Dead Yet?” is all the proof you need.
In short: Children of Bodom just kill.
It is not mere precision, but the metal-mad passion that makes COB unique in their craft.
01. Living Dead Beat
02. Are You Dead Yet?
03. If You Want Peace... Prepare for War
04. Punch Me I Bleed
05. In Your Face
06. Next in Line
07. Bastards of Bodom
08. Trashed, Lost & Strungout
09. We're Not Gonna Fall
Alexi Laiho - vocals, guitar
Roope Latvala - guitar
Henkka T. Blacksmith - bass
Janne Warman - keyboards
Jaska Raatikainen - drums