Children of Bodom

Biography

Members: Alexi Laiho, Roope Latvala, Janne Viljami Wirman, Henkka Seppala, Jaska Raatikainen

Active: 1993-present

Children of Bodom is a metal band from Espoo, Finland. There is some contention regarding the band's genre classification, but in general the band's musical style can be described as a hybrid of power metal, melodic death metal and melodic black metal.

The band's earlier releases leaned more towards a power metal style, but recently the band has focused on a style more closely related to melodic death metal. However, several key traits have remained consistent throughout the band's history, such as a focus on rapid tempos and technical guitar and keyboard solos. Other traits, such as Alexi's vocal approach and Jaska's use of blast beats are also consistent across the band's discography. The lyrics of Children of Bodom's songs are written in English and most often are concerned with the subjects of death, personal struggles, the grim reaper, war and the Lake Bodom murders.

EARLY YEARS

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 childhood and had shared an interest in heavy metal, especially death metal bands, such as Stone, 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 late 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 Alexi and Jaska played the keyboards separately, and subsequently mixed the recorded track with the other instruments. Alexi, who had previously only composed the melodies of the songs, assumed the role of the band's lyricist.

At the time, Jaska 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, Alexander was invited to join IneartheD as a rhythm guitarist.

The bassist chosen to replace Samuli was Henkka "Blacksmith" Sepp?l?, whom Alexi and Jaska had previously met at school. Apart from playing the bass, Henkka 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 musicians 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.

Alexi wanted to make use of the keyboards more effectively this time, and Pirisjoki was not fit for the task anymore; thus, he was fired from the band (albeit not in a hostile manner) and a friend of Jaska's, a talented pianist called Janne "Warman" Wirman, assumed the role of keyboard player.

Janne was the component which was previously missing from IneartheD. His presence allowed the band to assume the style which would later characterise Children of Bodom. With him, the band successfully recorded their first album in 1997. Their debut, Something Wild, was supposed to be released by a small Belgian label, but Sami Tenetz (from Thy Serpent) acquired a copy of their album through the hands of Alexander (both musicians 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.

For the band to be able to sign with Spinefarm Records, a new name was required; the contract with the Belgian label had already been signed under the name of IneartheD. The answer to that problem came as the band members looked for good names in their local phone book. When they stumbled upon Lake Bodom, they realized it was a name with impact; 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 story of the Lake Bodom murders goes as follows: on the night of June the 4th of 1960, three teenagers were murdered by means of repeated stabbing with a knife while on a camping trip to the lake. There was a lone survivor named Nils Gustafsson, who was initially believed to be an innocent witness who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, in early 2005, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation reported that Gustafsson was a suspect. He was later arrested and tried. On October 7, 2005, Gustafsson was found not guilty. Henkka Sepp?l? commented, "The further the trial went on, the more it seemed that it's not possible to judge him. The prosecution side's evidence was too weak. The biggest surprise was the fact that he was even prosecuted in the first place. Most of the people wouldn't have guessed that kind of thing to happen in this matter. Now he is free, and innocent as he has always been (my trust towards our law institution is strong) and nothing has changed in the mystery of Lake Bodom. So we can go on and we don't have to change our name, like many people suggested to do if the case would have been solved!"

SOMETHING WILD

With the intention of promoting the 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 of 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, but managed to convey the band's style rather well. It made use of simple scenery, which consisted essentially of an outdoors location after a snowstorm. There the band played for a couple of hours at night, with an average temperature of negative fifteen degrees Celsius .

Children of Bodom's first European tour began in February of 1998. They played together with bands such as Hypocrisy, Covenant and Agathodaimon, but suffered from the absence of Janne, 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 Janne was not able to perform with them. Alexi's then-girlfriend Kimberly Goss (from Sinergy and formerly of Dimmu Borgir and Therion) assumed the keyboards this time. By the end of the tour, Kimberly invited Alexi to join Sinergy, which at the time was still in its early stages.

HATEBREEDER AND FOLLOW REAPER

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 of 1999, the success of the "Downfall" single and Hatebreeder allowed Children of Bodom to schedule three concerts in Japan with Sinergy and veteran band 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.

For their next release, Children of Bodom decided to make use of Peter T?gtgren'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 on the studio decided to include an extra track, which was hastily composed and featured lyrics improvised by Alexi; 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 of 2000; the album saw a worldwide release in early 2001. A music video for "Everytime I Die" was recorded by Finnish director Tuukka Temonen shortly after.

HATE CREW DEATHROLL AND ARE YOU DEAD YET?

In February of 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.

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: Alexander 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 Alexi to replace Alexander, 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.

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 cover of the Britney Spears song "Oops!... I Did It Again" as a joke. 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, 16th in Sweden and 17th in Japan. The next planned release of the band is a DVD-single for the song "In Your Face", which will include the music video, backstage footage from the band and a live recording of the song "Sixpounder".

A concert was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden during the latter half of February 2006, and will be released as a DVD some time in 2006.

ALBUMS

1997 - Something Wild
1999 - Hatebreeder
1999 - Tokyo Warhearts (LIVE)
2001 - Follow the Reaper
2003 - Hate Crew Deathroll
2005 - Are You Dead Yet?

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