Kissing the shadows
The split of Finnish melodic death metal legends Children of Bodom in December 2019 ended the career of a band that, while organized around Alexi Laiho’s songwriting throughout, was also indisputably a unit. The departure of three longstanding members meant that Laiho needed a new name for legal reasons; the choice of Bodom After Midnight (a track title from their third album) was a far more respectful option than firing and rehiring lineups under the same name.
This three-track EP makes clear that BAM would have hardened into a new and devastating Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle for Laiho’s songwriting. Alas, his death last December has deprived us of the chance to see what might have been. Unsurprisingly, the two original songs here, “Paint the Sky With Blood” and “Payback’s a Bitch,” could well have fit onto any past COB album. The new rhythm section, ex-Santa Cruz bassist Mitja Toivonen and Paradise Lost drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, keep up the high-tempo pace of these final two Laiho compositions. The keyboards are not as prominent as on some past COB albums, but still get locked down onto the guitars at key moments, repeating one of their most distinctive quirks. Laiho’s guitar playing is more fluid than technically flamboyant here, but that is also true of much of his past work. To end his career with these two songs is neither a disgrace nor a high point; Bodom fans will surely appreciate them as the bonus that they are, and rue the lack of further Laiho compositions.
What makes this EP a no-really-you-gotta-hear-it event, however, is the closing cover of Dissection’s “Where Dead Angels Lie.” Paying due homage to a palpable influence on COB, Laiho’s new crew delivers a much-better-produced, but still atmospheric version of one of the best moments in melodic death metal.
Alexi “Wild Child” Laiho: He died with his spiked boots on. —Nick Terry