“A lot of guys can play awesome guitar but there’s very few super-shredders like that”: members of Slayer, Nightwish, Mastodon and more salute the genius of Alexi Laiho

 Children Of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho sitting in front of a vintage car
(Image credit: Will Ireland/Future)

When Children Of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho died on 29 December, 2020 at the tragically young age of 41, he left a huge gap in the world of metal. Countless friends and contemporaries queued up to pay tribute to him, including members of Slayer, Trivium, Mastodon, Nightwish and more. Here are some of their greatest memories and anecdotes about the man they called Wildchild.


Kerry King, Slayer

“I ran into Alexi because we had the same circles back then and I was like, ‘Hey dude, heard you did one of our songs? [Bodom covered Slayer’s Silent Scream on their 2009 covers album, Skeletons In The Closet.] You know, just busting his balls. He was all humble and worried if I hated it or liked it. I was like, ‘No man, it sounds great, it’s a cool cover.’ Alexi was a great guitar player.”

Brann Dailor, Mastodon

“We toured with Children Of Bodom in 2006, and Alexi and I hit it off quickly. He was a really funny person. He wore this big pimp hat and we just made fast friends. He was funny from the time he woke up, even if he was hungover. We had this skit we used to run. We would get into this conversation about Twisted Sister and how they weren’t going to take it anymore and we would go on for an hour. One by one, people would just start leaving. I think it was just a game to see how long we could sustain it. Every time I would see him a couple of years would go by, and we would get to do our stupid joke again. A lot of guys can play awesome guitar but there’s very few super-shredders like that. When someone special like that comes along, when they’re gone, it’s definitely felt.”

Sebastian Bach

“My greatest memory of Alexi would be the night at The Rainbow when we all went out, and he explained to me in detail how when he was a little kid, his big sister came to see Skid Row in Helsinki and he was too young to go. He begged and pleaded with his parents to go to the show with his sister and they wouldn’t let him. He told me he decided right then and there what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. And we got to jam on stage four times, I think. My very last show in Europe was with Children Of Bodom in Barcelona, Spain [in 2019]. We had a great time backstage. And that’s my last memory of him.”

Matt Heafy, Trivium

“Without Children Of Bodom’s Something Wild, Hatebreeder and Follow The Reaper, Trivium likely wouldn’t be here.”

Tuomas Holopainen, Nightwish

“Alexi and I shared a love for music, childlike fun, movies and games. We went to Orlando together in 2001 to spend some theme park-filled days in Universal and Disney. While visiting him in Helsinki, we would watch movies, go to bars and drink insane amounts of booze. At my place we would watch hours of old Donald Duck cartoons, play boardgames and drink Jägermeister on the roof of the house. He had a deeper side to him, and I remember having great conversations with him about life, the universe and everything.”

Michael Amott, Arch Enemy

“I first met Alexi on a tour that we did together back in 1999. He was 20 years old, already a huge talent, and Children Of Bodom were starting to make waves on the European metal scene. We talked a lot of guitar on the tour and had a great camaraderie. We kept in touch sporadically over the following 20 years and would usually see each other at a festival in Europe or at the music instrument conventions. I remember one time Bodom and Arch Enemy were coincidentally touring in China at the same time and we hung out in a hotel and emptied the bar. The last time we met was at the German Metal Hammer awards in Berlin 2018, and it was a great to catch up as always. Alexi looked pale and frail, as he had done the last few times I’d seen him. Little did I know that would be the last time we’d meet. It’s very sad when somebody who is so young and talented and has a lot more to offer the world passes away.”

Herman Li, Dragonforce

“In 2015, we were playing at a festival called Loud Park in Japan. Children Of Bodom were headlining with Slayer, and the next day we were headlining the two big stages with Megadeth. I remember bumping into him in the hotel lobby, and I said, ‘Dude, you look like you haven’t slept for ages.’ And they had basically had to do a show pretty much the next day, and he just told me, ‘Look, you know, I haven’t slept a lot, I’m totally jetlagged.’ We were just laughing about how we always fly to Japan to do some of the biggest shows of our career, and pretty much never get any sleep. And obviously the next day I saw them, and they completely killed it. Even with no sleep, this guy could go out, sing his heart out and shred. And then afterwards they went out and partied hard. I said, ‘I’m not going out to get completely fucked up tonight, because we’ve gotta play tomorrow!’ Funnily enough, Alexi also had a show the same day as us with The Local Band. So it just shows you, man, that guy partied hard, he loved what he was doing, he was really good on the guitar, and he could play at that high level any time. And that just shows you what a metal legend he is.”

Serena Cherry, Svalbard

“The first band I heard of Alexi was Sinergy, the power metal band he did with Kimberley Goss. I first heard the album Suicide By My Side. I used to go into the record shop and buy anything that looked interesting, and it was this crazy power metal with insane riffs and solos. I fell in love with it straight away. I would have been about 13 years old when I discovered that album. You know how you get certain albums that transport you back to a time and you feel like you’re there again? That Sinergy album transports me back to sitting on the bus in my Slayer hoodie with that on the headphones on my CD Walkman.

“In an era where it was all about binary riffs, your 1s and your 0s and keeping it out-and-out aggression, Alexi was bringing those exciting, glamorous solos. You listen to an album like Hate Crew Deathroll and that album is so full of joy. It’s hard not to listen to it and smile. You headbang and you smile. He inspired an entire generation of guitarists. He was the ultimate guitar hero. He left behind this untouchable level of musicianship and bringing that personality back into metal and making it fun again.”

Doc Coyle, Bad Wolves

“I discovered Children Of Bodom when I bought their first album, Something Wild, on import from Vintage Vinyl in 1999. I’d never heard anything like it. The band were teenagers like myself but played like virtuosos. It was mind-bending. Alexi was at the heart of that. I had the good fortune to be able to tour with him and the band twice and they were nothing but gracious, humble, and welcoming. He was one of the last guitar heroes left in the world. There are a bunch of top-notch players out there but very few larger-than-life stars that inspire young people to pick up this wonderful instrument and dream to their heart’s content never-ending possibilities.”

Jason Evans, Ingested

“I remember being introduced to Children Of Bodom by an old girlfriend when I was about 16. She played me Hate Crew Deathroll and I’d never heard anything like it – this blistering dual attack of molten guitarwork and keyboards. So I just got stuck in, album after album, my favourites being Hatebreeder, Follow The Reaper and of course, Hate Crew Deathroll. Alexi’s vocals had such a flair to them; it didn’t matter how heavy or fast the song was, he always sounded like he was having the time of his life, he had such an amazing presence live and on record. That’s what I will always remember and take with me every time I walk out on that stage.”

Gus G, Firewind/ex-Ozzy Osbourne

“I discovered Children Of Bodom around 1998 from a Sepultura tribute CD that came out on a small Swedish label called Black Sun Records. The guitar work and vocal style immediately caught my attention. The following year, their album Hatebreeder came out and I loved their blend of power metal, black metal, punk rock attitude and neo-classical, shredding guitar solos. Me being a huge Yngwie Malmsteen fan, I could see right away in Alexi that he could lead a new generation of guitarists in the scene and make solos cool again, in an era where you weren’t really supposed to play any. I had the same mentality for the music I was creating at that time with my early incarnation of Firewind. Songs like Silent Night, Bodom Night captivate the essence of COB’s style and sound; it’s one of my favourites. 

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