PETRI SILAS – ALEXI LAIHO: Chaos, Control & Guitar
July 7, 2020, a month ago
Originally published in Finnish in April 2019, the biography of Children Of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho has since been updated and translated into English. Written by Petri Silas, who’s had a “professional and personal relationship” with Laiho for the last 15 years, this 293-page paperback begins with Alexi’s childhood. A time which, despite nearly drowning at age five, the singer / guitarist considers to be “the best time of my life. By far.” That same year, Alexi started taking piano lessons. Looking back, Alexi admits, “In many ways, I was a problem child and did my best not to hide it.” With regular school being of no interest to our protagonist, he got accepted into the Pop & Jazz Conservatory at age 12.
Alexi met Children Of Bodom drummer Jaska Raatikainen in sixth grade; their first band together was called Inearthed. Bassist Henkka Seppala entered the fold in 1995, and the first COB show took place in 1997; the same year their debut album, Something Wild, was released in Finland. Sharing his musical inspirations, Alexi reveals, “The feeling of hate has always been one of my most important assets as a songwriter.” Laiho’s relationship with, and eventual marriage to former Dimmu Borgir keyboardist and Sinergy frontwoman Kimberly Goss is chronicled, as is his disturbing ritual of “self-mutilation with a knife.” Road tales include narrowly avoiding arrest in Greece, touring Mexico with Impaled Nazarene which was “weird as fuck,” and being “treated like kings” in Japan. Alexi recalls Bodom’s first time in North America, “Montreal was very cool, but the Milwaukee Metal Fest was not.” This isn’t the first, or last time, brevity triumphs over detail, which is quite frustrating to the reader.
Unafraid to share the truth, Alexi talks about his battles with depression and anxiety, his suicide attempt, and being admitted to the psychiatric ward of a hospital. “My healing process began when I decided to try and channel all the pain, chaos and bullshit into music.” As more songs are recorded and shows are played, Laiho’s physical injuries begin to mount, breaking a rib, as well as his wrist, and damaging his shoulder; all sustained while intoxicated. However, Alexi boldly states, “To me, both addiction and the inability to go cold turkey of one’s accord are signs of weakness and that is part of the reason for this biography not containing any rehab stories.” It wasn’t until age 33 that Alexi realized, “The consequences of my drinking really scared the shit out of me.”
“A self-confessed road dog… and I wouldn’t have it any other fucking way,” Alexi is firm in his belief that “the overall idea has always been to keep the public focused on our music, not on us as people.” Chaos, Control & Guitar certainly opens a window into the soul of this incredibly talented, and occasionally troubled Finn. When it comes to making albums, a deadline is Alexi’s “best friend because I function best when stress is pounding at my every nerve.” The same doesn’t appear to be true for the author of this book. Bodom’s most recent album Hexed, released in 2019, barely gets any page space at all. Reasons as to why Children Of Bodom unexpectedly called it quits at the end of last year are left unaddressed, and Alexi’s new band, Bodom After Midnight, is all but a footnote. The final chapter and post scriptum, with the exception of Alexi relocating to Australia for romance, seem rushed and incomplete. An unfortunate end to an otherwise enjoyable read.