Why Children Of Bodom kept things simple on their new album

I Worship Chaos is one of Children Of Bodom’s catchiest, most memorable and most coherent record in the last decade – this despite containing the multitude of different widdling and shred that make up the Finns eclectic heavy metal sound. Hammer sat down with them to discuss keeping the each album distinctive, not overthinking things, and why keeping things simple can require making fifteen different versions of the same song.

Is it hard to keep each album distinct at this point in your career?
Alexi Laiho (guitar/vocals): “Sometimes there’s writer’s blocks, but that’s normal. The trick is that you have to go out of your way to not think about it too much! If you keep thinking about it, like, ‘I have to do something new, something fresh, so that people will like it,’ that’s just going to throw you off track. The trick really is to do whatever comes out naturally, and then it’ll be all for the best. Keep it spontaneous; that’s the only way to keep it fresh.”

So it’s important not to overthink it?
Janne Wirman (keyboards): “That’s key. We’ve never, ever sat down and discussed, ‘now that we’re making an album, let’s not go this direction.’ The very key is to keep an open mind and not think about it. We never even discuss about it.”
Alexi: “We just do it, really. It just happens.”

Right from the start, your sound had a huge variety of elements. Now you have a large number of albums behind you, how much of an advantage is this?
“It definitely is an advantage that we can draw from so many different things. The one thing we had early on – the classical bits – that’s the only thing that I’m glad is gone! It was great for the first three albums, or whatever, but if you keep writing that, that would not be good. We needed to leave that bit out. It was so much fun, and I know there were a lot of people who were huge fans of that stuff, but at that point we needed to get it a bit more together. There were too many things we were combining.”

Did dropping those give you more songwriting freedom, not needing to build the songs around them?
“Yeah, and I think it’s just part of the learning curve, too. When you keep making albums and you listen to what you have done, like, five years ago, you realise certain things. That’s why, for example, on I Worship Chaos, you can hear the song structures are way more simple than they were on the previous ones, which makes the music more catchy. You’ve got to look at the big picture and not just certain parts and put those together.”

How did you go about doing that on I Worship Chaos?
“This time, I had a recording set-up. When we write music, we go into a rehearsal room every day – like you would go to a normal job, pretty much – and I’d record the songs we were working on every day. And then as we left home, I’d send them as mp3s to everybody, and I’d always listen to them on my drive back home. Then the next day, we would all discuss the arrangement we had done. It was the most professional approach we’d ever had to the arrangements. It used to be that we just played the song through and thought, ‘Okay, that felt good!’ But then when you hear it, you might have a very different opinion on it. That was the reason we did a lot of different arrangements. Track two on the album, My Bodom, we probably had 15 different arrangements of the song before we found the good one.”
Alexi: “We actually had to stop the song and start working on another one. We had to get away from it for a while. And then we came back and all of a sudden, it worked.”

Children Of Bodom’s new album I Worship Chaos is out now, via Nuclear Blast.

The 10 best Children Of Bodom songs, by Alexi Laiho