I know there are lots of things to be sad about, and a lot of people to mourn, but this week one of my oldest musical heroes passed away. Alexi Laiho was the guitarist and vocalist for Finnish melodic death metal band Children of Bodom, a band who I fell in love with when I was discovering metal as a teenager and haven’t looked back since. He’s always embodied a certain metal archetype to me; long hair, dark clothes, an incredibly talented guitarist but somebody who doesn’t take himself too seriously at the same time. There’s plenty of videos of him goofing around or getting drunk with his friends, in stark contrast to his visceral and captivating performances on stage. I think pretty much everyone who starts listening to that kind of music at that kind of age does it either because they feel like an outsider or because they want to be an outsider, and Laiho was a hero for a lot of people - a king of the outsiders.
Children of Bodom’s 2005 album Are You Dead Yet? will always have a place in my own personal music history, and to this day is my go-to for when I want an oldschool, chugging metal classic. I’ve been listening to it all week, and I suspect I’ll keep listening to Alexi’s music for a long time to come.