Text and pics by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala
When Children of Bodom ceased to exist last year after the farewell show in Helsinki, the members of Children of Bodom went their separate ways. A few of the guys have continued playing in smaller, more rock-influenced outfits. However, the frontman of CoB, Alexi Laiho, focused on resuming his career in the metallic approach with an entire new lineup. The second guitarist from the last incarnation of Bodom, Daniel Freyberg, followed in the footsteps of Alexi Laiho and joined the new group, simply named Bodom After Midnight. The band was supposed to hit the stage earlier this year, but the ongoing and raging pandemic postponed everything to a later date. Because of the canceled shows and tours, the quartet has spent the major part of their time in the rehearsal place and worked on new material for the upcoming Bodom After Midnight album.
The renewed Bodom had three gigs to play in three days. The debut show was in Rytmikorjaamo in Seinäjoki, followed by two sold-out shows in Helsinki’s legendary Club Tavastia. Because of the current pandemic situation, each gig had its own restrictions. The Tavastia club’s capacity is approximately 600, but now only 300 people are allowed to enter the venue. Both the shows were sold out in advance. That already tells Laiho’s new-old band plans were highly appreciated and received a lot of interest in the press and above all from Laiho’s diehard fans.
The show kicked off in time with the HATE CREW DEATHROLL album-opening track, “Needled 24/7”, followed by “Silent Night, Bodom Night,” and the band’s “title track” “Bodom After Midnight.” Classic after classic, was the name of the game. All songs sounded fresh and energetic from start to finish. It can be said that Alexi Laiho now seemed really relaxed on stage. His playing was razor-sharp, and his vocals sounded as good as ever, if not even better. One can only wonder how big relief it was for him to be finally back on stages after an almost one-year absence, and it could be testified in his stage presence. Daniel Freyberg was also on fire. He clearly now has a bigger role in the band and more space on stage. Compared to the last year’s Children of Bodom farewell show, both gents’ performance was from another planet on all levels. A positive atmosphere surely helps.
How about the band’s new members then? The biggest interest was definitely focused on the drummer. The former Children of Bodom drummer, Jaska Raatikainen, is a highly respected and appreciated player amongst musicians. Raatikainen’s tight and punctual playing has been one of the key elements in the CoB sound and approach. Therefore, Paradise Lost drummer Waltteri Väyrynen was an excellent pick-up to sit behind the drums. Despite his young age, he’s already a well-experienced drummer, and his skills have already drawn attention from the world of metal. Väyrynen handled the tight, complex details in the playing of the CoB songs perfectly. Laiho made the right choice when recruiting him.
As for the bassist, Mitja Toivonen is best known for his stint with the Finnish hard rock band Santa Cruz. Well, it looks kind of weird on paper that someone with a background like Mitja could end up playing music like Bodom. It is sure that after these shows, he proved all the speculations wrong. Mitja brought in tons of fresh energy, and his stage presence was powerful. At times it felt that there were many Mitja’s on stage at the same time. Some of his stage manners reminded slightly of the young Duff McKagan. This is just pure speculation, but apparently, that may be Alexi’s stint in his “hobby band” The Local Band, which plays the 80’s hard rock covers, helped him decide to hire this guy in the band. However, Mitja is another great addition to the lineup.
The group has been sporting as a four-piece in several promo pics, but now the line-up had been expanded to include a keyboard player. The keyboards have always been an essential element in the sound of Children of Bodom. The new guy is named Villi Itä-Pelto. He might not have the skill level or stage presence of the original key wizard Janne Wirman. Instead, he is a highly skilled musician behind the keyboard as well as a music teacher. He has an educated piano player with a music diploma; therefore, his playing was tight. Will he be a permanent player in the Bodom A.M rank? That remains to be seen.
The set was a real firework of the old CoB classic songs picked up from the early CoB albums. Basically, the group focused on the material taken from albums released between 1997-2005. The only exception to that was “Platitudes and Barren Words,” which comes from the band’s last studio album HEXED. The song choices were not surprising, not at all, but it was still a bit strange when there were no songs included from BLOOD DRUNK, HALO OF BLOOD, RELENTLESS RECKLESS FOREVER, or I WORSHIP CHAOS. Basically, the band now skipped over ten years of its career in its entirely. Also, it would have been great to hear at least ONE NEW song from Alexi & the boys? However, the setlist included all the important and best known Bodom classics. No surprises, but the show was worth of every cent and the fans were surely pleased.
To be honest, it is kind of weird to see Alexi Laiho play under the fabricated Bodom moniker nowadays. As Bodom was and is still known for Laiho’s phenomenal guitar skills that several younger fans have adopted when starting playing. Frankly, it would have been more logical if Laiho had continued under the Children of Bodom moniker with the revamped line-up when the former members chose to continue their own paths. But who knows? In spite of it all, Laiho’s music lives and well from now on. Now Laiho has a new fresh start for his long-lasting career without carrying too much load from the past without fighting with his old bandmates. Hopefully, Bodom After Midnight will break the boundaries and conquer a new fanbase, but firstly bring the album out…
1. Needled 24/7 (Hate Crew Deathroll, 2003)
2. Silent Night, Bodom Night (Hatebreeder, 1999)
3. Bodom After Midnight (Follow the Reaper, 2000)
4. Sixpounder (Hate Crew Deathroll, 2003)
5. Platitudes and Barren Words (Hexed, 2019)
6. Living Dead Beat (Are You Dead Yet? 2005)
7. Knuckleduster (Trashed, Lost & Strungout, 2004)
8. Angels Don’t Kill (Hate Crew Deathroll, 2003)
9. Hate Me! (Follow the Reaper, 2000)
10. Deadnight Warrior (Something Wild, 1997)
11. Hatebreeder (Hatebreeder, 1999)
12. Everytime I Die (Follow the Reaper, 2000)
13. Warheart (Hatebreeder, 1999)
14. Downfall (Hatebreeder, 1999)
15. Hate Crew Deathroll (Hate Crew Deathroll, 2003)
16. Are You Dead Yet? (Are You Dead Yet? 2005)
17. In Your Face (Are You Dead Yet? 2005)