Children of Bodom is a Finnish heavy metal band from Espoo, formed in 1993. The band consists of guitarist and vocalist Alexi Laiho (vocals/lead guitar), Roope Latvala (guitar), Janne Wirman (keyboards), Henkka Seppälä (bass), and Jaska Raatikainen (drums). Since their inception, Children of Bodom has released six studio albums, two live albums, two EPs, and one DVD.
Children of Bodom's third studio album, Follow the Reaper, was the band's first album to receive a Gold certification in Finland, and since then, all six of the band's studio albums have reached the same status. In Finland, Children of Bodom has released three consecutive albums that debuted at number one on Finnish album charts, and has also seen chart positions on the United States Billboard 200.
Throughout its career, the band has been known to incorporate many different musical styles, leading critics and fans to label them as everything from melodic death metal and black metal to thrash metal and progressive metal.
Formation and early years (1993–1997)
The band was founded in 1993 by guitarist Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho and drummer Jaska Raatikainen under the name of IneartheD. Both musicians had known each other since early childhood and had shared an interest in heavy metal, especially death metal groups, such as Entombed, and Obituary. Bassist Samuli Miettinen completed the initial line-up of the band. IneartheD recorded its first demo, titled Implosion of Heaven, during August of the same year.
Samuli was the main composer of the band's lyrics for the two years that he took part in IneartheD, but his family moved to the United States in 1995, making it impossible for him to remain in the band. His last contribution to IneartheD were the lyrics of the songs from their second demo, Ubiquitous Absence of Remission. In this demo, keyboards were incorporated into the band's songs for the first time. In order to achieve this, both Laiho and Raatikainen played the keyboards separately, and subsequently mixed the recorded track with the other instruments. Laiho, who had previously only composed the melodies of the songs, assumed the role of the band's lyricist.
At the time, Raatikainen played French horn in a local big band, and during a rehearsal he met Alexander Kuoppala, a trumpet player and also a proficient guitarist. Hence, shortly after the recording of their second demo, Kuoppala was invited to join IneartheD as a rhythm guitarist.
The bassist chosen to replace Samuli was Henkka "Blacksmith" Seppälä, whom Laiho and Raatikainen had previously known from school. Apart from playing the bass, Seppälä also often doubles as the band's backing vocalist. Also, the band recruited a musician to specialize on keyboards, whose name was Jani Pirisjoki. Both joined IneartheD in early 1996.
With this new line-up, IneartheD proceeded to record their third demo, entitled Shining. This demo did not impress record labels any more than the previous ones had, and none took interest in the band. Despite their efforts, their music got little exposure and managed only to play at local events. As a last resort, the band decided to record an independent, self-funded album. Considering that none of the musicians had much money to begin with, it was an audacious move.
Laiho wanted to make use of the keyboards more effectively, though Pirisjoki was not attending rehearsals; thus, he was fired and replaced by a friend of Raatikainen's, a jazz pianist named Janne "Warman" Wirman.
Wirman was the component which was previously missing from IneartheD. His presence allowed the band to assume the style which would later characterize Children of Bodom. With Wirman, the band successfully recorded their first album in 1997. Their debut, Something Wild, was supposed to be released by a small Belgian label, Shiver records, but second vocalist Sami Tenetz (from Thy Serpent) acquired a copy of their album through the hands of Kuoppala, both worked for the same company at the time. Shortly after IneartheD signed this contract, Spinefarm Records' boss immediately became interested in signing them for a country-wide release. The latter deal was much more attractive to the band, since the Belgian label was offering them close to no help, to the point where they would have to distribute and sell the album themselves.
The band was required to create a new name to sign up to Spinefarm Records. The contract with Shiver records had already been signed under the name of IneartheD. The answer to that problem came as, members looked for good names in their local phone book. When they stumbled upon Lake Bodom, they realized that it was a name with impact and one which had an interesting story behind it. A long list of possible names involving the word Bodom was then made, and they settled with Children of Bodom. The band's name is derived from the Lake Bodom murders.
Something Wild (1997–1998)
With the intention of promoting their upcoming release of Something Wild, the band opened one of the shows from the symphonic black metal band Dimmu Borgir in late 1997. Their success was such that a representative from the Nuclear Blast label shortly approached them with a contract for a European release, a deal which started on the subsequent year. Something Wild was officially released in November 1997, and for promotional purposes the band recorded a music video of the song "Deadnight Warrior". The video was directed by Mika Lindberg and had a slim budget of €1000. It made use of simple scenery, which consisted essentially of an outdoors location after a snowstorm. The band played for a couple of hours at night, with an average temperature of minus fifteen degrees Celsius.
Although Laiho is very critical of all of the music he has written, he notes that he dislikes Something Wild the most of all of his albums. When recording this album, Laiho had tried to mimic the style of one of his idols, Yngwie Malmsteen, which is why Something Wild is considered one of the most technical albums Children of Bodom have ever produced.
Children of Bodom's first European tour began in February 1998. They played together with bands such as Hypocrisy (at such festivals as Under the Black Sun), The Kovenant and Agathodaimon, but suffered from the absence of Wirman, who was concentrating on finishing his studies. He was replaced by pianist Erna Siikavirta for the duration of the tour.
Months later, the band recorded two new songs, entitled "Towards Dead End" and "Children of Bodom". The latter was included in a compilation by Spinefarm Records, which after being released remained on the top of Finnish charts for eight consecutive weeks. In late August, the band played the song "Forevermore" live for the first time during a show in Russia. This song was later renamed "Downfall".
Their second European tour occurred in September of that same year, but once more Wirman was not able to perform with them. Laiho's then-girlfriend Kimberly Goss (from Sinergy and formerly of Dimmu Borgir, Ancient and Therion) assumed the keyboards this time. By the end of the tour, Kimberly invited Laiho to join Sinergy, which at the time was still in its early stages.
The second album, Hatebreeder, was recorded between the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999. It was originally entitled Towards Dead End, but while in studio the members of the band opted for the current title. To create anticipation in Finland, the '"Downfall" single was released two weeks prior to the album's release. It was accompanied by a new music video, once more directed by Mika Lindberg. Hatebreeder ultimately topped the charts in many European countries. In July 1999, the success of the "Downfall" single and Hatebreeder allowed Children of Bodom to schedule three concerts in Japan with Sinergy and In Flames. During two of these concerts the live album Tokyo Warhearts was recorded, and in it the band managed to seamlessly reproduce and at times improve on their songs, a notable achievement for a band with only two albums recorded previously. Under their request, no overdubs were used on the recording of the concert.
Follow the Reaper (2000–2002)
For their next release, Children of Bodom decided to make use of Peter Tägtgren's Abyss studio in Sweden, instead of the Finnish Astia-studio from Anssi Kippo, in which they had recorded all of their previous releases, including the demos from IneartheD. The band wrote eight new songs for this album, and while in the studio decided to include an extra track, which was hastily composed and featured lyrics improvised by Laiho; that track would eventually receive the name of "Kissing the Shadows". The band gave the album the name of Follow the Reaper and recording sessions took place between August and September 2000; the album saw a worldwide release in late 2000. A music video for "Everytime I Die" was recorded by the Finnish director Tuukka Temonen shortly after.
Hate Crew Deathroll (2002–2004)
In February 2002, Children of Bodom began writing songs for their upcoming album, entitled Hate Crew Deathroll. Recording ensued during the month of August, and the album was released January 2003 in Finland. It remained on the top of the Finnish charts for a total of three weeks and subsequently became the band's first gold album, even though all of their albums eventually reached this status, with Follow the Reaper reaching platinum status.
On January 3, 2003, the Finnish Metal Music Awards were held at Tavastia Club in Helsinki. Voting was open to all the metal fans and was presented through the various media outlets that were working with the event's organizers. Children of Bodom was awarded Finnish Band of the Year.
Children of Bodom's first world tour began in 2003 and lasted until late 2004. The tour had many sold-out concerts and marked the consolidation of the band in North America, but was also accompanied by an unexpected announcement: Kuoppala decided to quit Children of Bodom for personal reasons right in the middle of the tour without giving previous warning. Griffin's guitarist Kai Nergaard was invited by Laiho to replace Kuoppala, but did not accept the offer. Thus, Alexi's bandmate from Sinergy, Roope Latvala (founding member of Stone, one of the bands which started the heavy metal movement in Finland) assumed the guitars as a session player, until a more permanent solution could be found. This formation was introduced in Moscow on the 16th of August.
Are You Dead Yet? (2004–2007)
Children of Bodom live in Milan 2006.
After successfully finishing the world tour with Latvala — who then assumed a permanent position in the band's line-up — Children of Bodom proceeded to record and release the EP Trashed, Lost & Strungout and the single "In Your Face", which contained songs from their upcoming album and a parody cover of "Oops!… I Did It Again" by Britney Spears. In late 2005, the album Are You Dead Yet? was released, featuring a style different from what had been presented by the band on its previous works. Simpler and heavier guitar riffs were incorporated into Children of Bodom's sound, as well as elements from industrial music. Reactions from fans to the release were varied; however, the album remains the band's most commercially successful. It was awarded gold status in Finland and reached first place on the Finnish charts, 16th in Germany, 16 in Sweden and 17 in Japan. The next release of the band was a DVD-single for the song "In Your Face", which included the music video, backstage footage from the band and a live recording of the song "Sixpounder" at Wacken Open Air festival in 2004.
A poster of the band is seen in the television program CSI: NY in the episode "Stuck On You".
Children of Bodom's live DVD Chaos Ridden Years - Stockholm Knockout Live was released on December 5, 2006. It contains a recording of a live concert performed on February 5, 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden, with over 90 minutes of live footage. "Chaos Ridden Years" refers to a documentary featuring interviews with band members about the history of the band, and footage of the band on tour. It also contains every official music video Children of Bodom has ever made. Guitarist Alexi Laiho was voted world's best guitarist of 2006 in the Metalhammer magazine.
In June 2006, the band embarked on one of their biggest tours: The Unholy Alliance tour, playing alongside Slayer, Lamb of God, Mastodon, In Flames and Thine Eyes Bleed. The bands toured the US through June and July and Europe through October and November.
On January 31, 2007, Laiho slid down the lane at a bowling alley after accidentally stepping over the foul line. He slammed hard into the wall, breaking his left shoulder. This rendered him unable to play guitar for six weeks. Due to this incident, Children of Bodom was forced to cancel their first 2007 tours and a festival that they were slated to headline.
On March 31, 2007, the Children of Bodom website was updated with information on Laiho's condition. Though his shoulder will never be the same, it has healed tremendously. His guitar playing should not suffer because of the incident. As a bonus, it was stated that the band has already written some songs for a new album, and hope to hit the recording studios sometime later in 2007.
Children of Bodom were selected to replace Velvet Revolver for the Monsters of Rock festival. They played on the same stage as Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeth.
Live at 2007's Masters of Rock.
From October to December 2007, Children of Bodom recorded their sixth studio album, entitled Blooddrunk, which was released on April 15, 2008. The album contained 10 songs with one of them being a cover song. Children of Bodom were featured on the Gigantour 2008 North American tour with Megadeth, In Flames, Job for a Cowboy and High on Fire. Children of Bodom were one of the first bands to be confirmed for Wacken Open Air 2008, where they performed alongside many bands including Iron Maiden, Sonata Arctica and Avantasia. Children of Bodom played at Donington Download on the 15th of June, playing a mixture of old and new songs. On March 8, 2008, Children of Bodom did their first ever UK signing event at the Zavvi music shop in Oxford Street, London. They signed copies of their new single "Blooddrunk" in CD, 7 inch and 12 inch vinyls, only 666 copies of the 12 inch vinyls have been made.
On 26 June 2008, Children of Bodom played their first show in Auckland, New Zealand with support from local scene acts Dawn of Azazel and Subtract, at the Transmission Room. In 2008, Children of Bodom's first three studio albums, as well as Tokyo Warhearts, were remastered and re-released with bonus tracks. In September and October 2008, the band toured the USA supporting Blooddrunk, with support from The Black Dahlia Murder and Between the Buried and Me. Testament also made a special guest appearance in the main support slot at the tour's New York City date. In November and December 2008, the band toured in Europe supporting Slipknot and Machine Head. From late January to early March 2009, the band also co-headlined the European tour with Cannibal Corpse with Diablo opening for them. On April 2, 2009, Children of Bodom embarked on the No Fear Energy Tour headlined by Lamb of God with main support from As I Lay Dying and themselves, and rotating opening slots with God Forbid and Municipal Waste, but unfortunately dropped off the tour a week before it was finished following a serious injury Alexi suffered after falling from the top bunk of his tour bus on April 26, 2009, after the show in Palladium Ballroom, Dallas TX. In addition to the injury, on May 8th, 2009, at Roseland Ballroom in New York City Alexi and Children of Bodom were forced to quit playing after a few of their songs because of Alexi's previous injury, Laiho originally planned to continue touring despite his injury, but was forced to cancel last 6 dates when any efforts to alleviate the pain failed. All summer festival dates went down as planned and were unaffected by Alexi's injury.
In February 2009, Children of Bodom hinted at plans to release a cover album entitled Skeletons in the Closet which will be released on September 23, 2009. They also admitted to being "lazy" when it comes to practicing and talked about plans to have more songs on future albums. Children of Bodom will embark on a tour of South America and Mexico in September 2009. Support on the trek will come from Amorphis. Also in September and October 2009 the band will return to North America to headline a massive, month-long tour. On most dates support on the trek will come from The Black Dahlia Murder and Skeletonwitch. Austrian Death Machine and Holy Grail will make a special guest appearances in the main support slot at the tour's second Pomona, California date. Children of Bodom is scheduled to perform at Japan's Loudpark Festival in October 2009 along with Megadeth, Judas Priest, Slayer, Anthrax, Rob Zombie & Arch Enemy. (Loudpark.com) Children of Bodom will also perform for their Russian fans in Moscow the same month.
Skeletons in the Closet (2009 onward)
Skeletons in the Closet is a cover album released earlier as its announced date was in September 22, 2009. It features covers done in previous albums as well as new ones. Some of the artists include Suicidal Tendencies, Alice Cooper, Slayer, Andrew WK, and more. Pre-ordering the album will get you a autographed copy of Skeletons in the Closet and a T-shirt with the album's design on it.
Children of Bodom is featuring a contest in celebration of their new album in which anyone anywhere can win prizes featuring an ESP/LTD M-53 Electric guitar and Children of Bodom's entire back catalogue including Skeletons in the Closet. The contest started August 25, 2009 and will end September 21, 2009, a day before the album's release, and the winners will be announced September 28, 2009
Children of Bodom's genre classification is debated amongst fans and critics. The band could be part of several musical genres, among them power metal, neo-classical metal, speed metal, black metal, and melodic death metal. Their more recent material, such as Blooddrunk, has been said to contain thrash metal elements. The term "Tuonela Metal", recently introduced by Finnish press, albeit rare should be taken into some consideration, due to its expressiveness (such as its reference to the Ade, the Reign of Shadows) and to its implicit tribute to Jean Sibelius, the most representative Finnish composer. Laiho says that he prefers to just be called a metal group and nothing other. However, in a recent interview for the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Laiho states that the band's genre is extreme metal, since he feels that all other alternatives are too restrictive.
Alexi Laiho – lead guitar, lead vocals (since 1993)
Roope Latvala – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (since 2003)
Henkka Seppälä – bass, backing vocals (since 1996)
Janne Wirman – keyboards (since 1997)
Jaska Raatikainen – drums, percussion (since 1993)
Alexander Kuoppala – rhythm guitar (1995–2003)
Jani Pirisjoki – keyboards (1995–1997)
Samuli Miettinen – bass guitar (1993–1995)
Erna Siikavirta – keyboards (1998)
Kimberly Goss – keyboards (1998)