As I dive deeper into the sinful world of Heavy Metal, my inner demon grows stronger and fortunately North America witnessed some of the best tours of the past decade this year with Trivium, Arch Enemy, Dream Theater delivering epic shows and Judas Priest and Avatar announcing dates. I have been a huge fan of Children of Bodom as far as I can remember. I have seen them countless times in Europe but whenever they toured US I was out of the country. So when I heard that CoB was playing the notorious Palladium I secured my tickets instantly and boy, the show was a blast! I caught up with the lead guitar player and singer of CoB, Alexi Laiho before that show to talk about life on the road, guitars and everything else.
The show started with Uncured opening the downstairs stage. There were many bands playing upstairs before that but unfortunately I did not get the chance to see them since I was chatting with Alexi. Uncured was definitely the weak link of the lineup. The band consists of two young brothers aged 19 and 17, with their dad managing the band and their mother handling the merch sales. Now, I will talk more about why this is a terrible idea, but first let’s talk about their music and performance. Their music is at best, ok. It consists of mediocre guitar riffs, generic drums fills and weak screams. The music is made only for the sake of being heavy. It was boring. I found the screams weak and non-supportive of the music. Again, they were there but so because screams are considered “heavy”. I do not expect them to be prodigies or pull a Dimash out of nowhere but I think we can all agree that not all “weird demonic sounds” one makes can be considered screams. The brothers had good stage presence, however the bass player barely moved throughout the entire 30 minute set. However, their engagement with the audience was rather arrogant. While I yearn for courage and self-esteem in opening act, Uncured acted like they were the headliner, which pushed the audience away. Going back to the family business issue. Do I have to say much about why this is a terrible, terrible idea? Just look into the history of family run bands and you will see tragedies, bad decisions and opportunistic actions that is not in the best interest of the “band”. Although, they are still very young and have a lot of potential, I don’t see this band getting any further then this if they follow this path.
Shortly after this disaster, Lost Society took the stage with epic amounts of energy. Before I start rumbling about how great this band is, I want to share a little story with you. Alexi cannot say enough good things about this band. A few weeks before the show, I was told I should check these guys out. I gave a few of their songs a listen and I was like ‘meeh they are ok’. But I can tell you, after seeing them live and actually how good they are, I became their number one fan. The mixes they have don’t do them justice at all and unfortunately they are really underrated. Lost Society stepped on the stage with great passion and energy. They were running, jumping, rolling all over the stage through their entire set. The mosh pit and crowd surfing did not stop for a single second. The music was amazing and really original. Great melodies, fast, energetic riffs, great drumming and holy s**t, those vocals. The singer hit much higher notes then I anticipated. The solos were very well written. The tone, the acoustics, everything was great. They left the audience yearning for more and I could see it in people’s faces that they were all surprised how good this guys are. The feast of Thrash Metal made me travel back to the 80s and showed me the metal scene is still strong and standing tall. Definitely go check them out.
The last band before CoB was, Carach Angren. A melodic black metal band from Netherlands. The entire stage was decorated with gravestones and other creepy stuff so we all knew we were in for a threat. The band hit the stage after displaying some freaking holograms of creepy children (like from Annabelle hah) on stage! Before the band hit the stage, the key board came up floating from the ground. The band had crazy make up on and provided an amazing theatrical show. Their music was pretty good and entertaining.
After Carach Angren’s 45 minute set it was time for the one and only CoB. Children of Bodom delivered a stunning set of songs, consisting of songs from their first two albums. Of the numerous times I have seen these, I haven’t heard many of these songs live before. When they started playing Red Lights in My Eyes Pt. 2 and Bed of Razors, tears of joys came down my eyes. The performance and the sound were amazing. You should hear every single note of every single instrument on stage. Alexi delivered one of his performances yet and proved to everyone, one again, he is a God when it comes to guitar. The light show was pretty amazing and supported the rest of the show well. Jesse (the light engineer) did an amazing job. Even though they had never stopped moshing, the crowd still had plenty of energy for Bodom. I guess seeing the band had the effect of chugging down multiple cans of Redbull. I can swear that at some point during the show where were more than 10 people simultaneously crowd surfing. The security had a really hard time catching all these people in air and safely returning them to the group but they had an amazing job in keeping the event safe for everyone so a big shout out to these unsung heroes. At the end of the show they were soaking wet, covered in sweat. One could easily see the happiness in their eyes that the show was over.
Blast: First of all thank you so much for taking the time. How is the tour going so far?
Alexi: It is pretty good actually. I has been a month, I think. It has been a lot of fun you know, playing the old stuff. I think that fans, you know, they had a blast seeing us play stuff from Something Wild, Hatebreed, that has been definitely good. It’s something different. It has been good
Blast: What are your hobbies outside of music?
Alexi: Cars I guess
Blast: Oh yeah. What is your favourite car?
Alexi: I like muscle cars. They are my daily driving cars but I consider them my hobby as well. Other then that I don’t have any actual hobbies. I like to meet up with my friends and get drunk when I can. I don’t like drinking too much on the road so when I get off it is a hobby.
Blast: A lot of the bands have been doing this VIP package stuff. Is that something you are planning on doing?
Alexi: Actually we have done that many times. In the states and in Europe and any other place pretty much. For this tour we were thinking about it but we just couldn’t make it happen. Not sure why. But yeah we have been definitely doing that a lot.
Blast: In the past few years a lot of the bands started shifting their music towards a combination of pop and metal, you know catchier choruses. Amarathe, InFlames is going that way. Obviously CoB is not one of these band but while a lot of the original metal fans are opposed to this, one fact is that this brought a lot of new audience into Metal and increased attendance/sales of pretty much all the bands. What do you think about this general direction?
Alexi: I mean I can always speak for myself, what the other bands are doing, it’s up to them. They feel like they wanna do that and they are passionate about that, then go ahead. It is what it is but as far as CoB goes, I can promise that we are not gonna have choruses with clean vocals or anything like that. That is just not gonna happen. That is not us. So you know with, we have some melodic vocals but my voice is pretty raspy and I can’t see myself singing clean. So to me it is whatever the guys wanna do. If it is making the metal scene bigger, it is a good thing. So I am not opposed to that. I don’t hate that kind of music at all. There are couple of new bands that I like.
Blast: This question was asked to you like 10 years ago but I wanna see if you answer has changes at all. Is there anyone out there that you would want to collaborate with? In or outside of metal?
Alexi: Outside of metal. I am a huge fan of Fleetwood Mac. I just listened to them today. Stevie Nicks definitely.
Blast: In the past few years a lot of the guitar players started complaining, over social media, forums etc. that the quality of guitars in general have been going down, for all brands. Is this something you observed for ESP?
Alexi: I haven’t heard about that. I am still good to go. I think they are awesome. They play really well. As far as I know they are still good. Very durable.
Blast:One thing that is obvious is that CoB has a lot of neoclassical influences. Would you ever consider doing a live set, with a live orchestra and full orchestra arrangements? Obviously it is a lot of work but..
Alexi: Not really. Not with Children of Bodom. Even though we had a lot of neo classical stuff, we still wanna keep it rock n roll, I don’t think we will use any real strings, haha I mean, other than guitar. You know what I mean. All the strings sounds like that, would have to be artificial.
Blast:What is your biggest back stage secret that no one knows about?
Alexi: Hahaha. I can’t of anything right now. If you have asked me this like 10 years ago or 15 years ago, I would have given a better answer but right now I just warm up and get ready for the show. Back in the day, we had some pretty insane backstage parties, after the show. We were pretty fucking crazy back in the day but we always kept it professional in terms of not getting fucked up before the show.
Blast: Thank you so much for you time.