Today would have been Alexi Laiho's 43rd birthday. The modern-day guitar god, who made his name with Finnish melodic death metallers Children Of Bodom, was cruelly taken from us on December 29, 2020 - cruel because he died so young, but cruel also because such a fundamentally insane talent had just been snatched away from the world.
In an era where new, fretboard-singeing heavy metal guitar heroes were in short supply, Alexi was a phenomenon - a player who inspired a whole generation of budding musicians to pick up an axe and start shredding. "Sometimes you might not know someone personally, but you feel like you know them through listening to their guitar playing," Svalbard guitarist/vocalist Serena Cherry - one such musician - told Metal Hammer in our tribute to Alexi last year. "That was the case with Alexi for me. I felt all his personality oozing out of every solo that he played onstage."
Alexi's final run of shows took place via a trio of gigs in Finland with a project that was meant to kickstart the next stage of his career, Bodom After Midnight. While we'll never get to see that band fill its potential, fans lucky enough to attend those shows at least got one last chance to see Alexi where he was at his very best - on a stage, ripping through solos like a man possessed.
While a few videos have been posted of those shows, it's this clip, taken from the final gig in Helsinki on October 25, 2020, that might serve as the definitive final reminder of what a player Alexi was.
Seemingly shot from the front row, it shows Alexi ripping his way through Bodom favourite Hate Me, taken from 2000 breakthrough album Follow The Reaper. After the track slows down into a nice, beefy, 30-second chugfest around the three-minute mark, it's time for Alexi to do what he does best and...well...you already know what happens next.
Watch a modern metal icon blow minds below. We miss you, Alexi. Thank you for the music.