Alexi Laiho, the acclaimed guitarist and frontman for the Finnish metal outfit Children of Bodom, died at his home in Helsinki, Finland, last week, according to a statement from his management team. He was 41.
A cause of death was not given. The statement said Laiho “had suffered from long-term health issues during his last years.”
Laiho’s surviving bandmates in Bodom After Midnight — a group he formed with Daniel Freyberg, Mitja Toivonen, and Waltteri Väyrynen after Children of Bodom disbanded in 2019 — said, “We are crushed by the sudden passing of our dear friend and band member. Words cannot describe this shock and the profound sadness that we feel.”
Laiho was born in Espoo, Finland, in 1979 and grew up in a very musical household, telling Metal Hammer in a 2008 interview that his dad played piano and organ, while his mother played flute and sang in a choir. Laiho’s first instrument was the violin, but he eventually gravitated toward the guitar, and he credits his sister with introducing him to heavy metal.
“When I was seven years old she played me her Guns N’ Roses, Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe, and Skid Row tapes,” he told Metal Hammer. “Everything about it was so fucking attractive: how they played, the sound of the guitar, the way the guys looked. They were dangerous. I was so fucking drawn into it. And I still am.”
In 1993, Laiho and drummer Jaska Raatikainen formed the band Inearthed, which spent several years recording demos rooted in death metal and heavy metal, but didn’t shy away from melodic touches and incorporated keyboards and synthesizers. Inearthed struggled to make any real headway though, but in 1997 they enlisted jazz pianist Janne Wirman, who helped them solidify their sound as they began recording their first album, Something Wild. The LP was ultimately released that same year via the Finnish label Spinefarm Records under the band’s new name, Children of Bodom.
Children of Bodom’s profile grew in the ensuing years as they released a steady stream of albums and toured Europe. By 2003’s Hate Crew Deathroll, they’d firmly established a devoted following in the United States as well, and in 2008 they released arguably their most successful album, Blooddrunk. In a show of their versatility, Children of Bodom followed that up with a covers LP, Skeletons in the Closet, which featured renditions of songs by Slayer, Scorpions, and the Ramones, as well as Britney Spears, Kenny Rogers, and Pat Benatar.
Children of Bodom would release four more studio albums, ending their run in 2019 with Hexed and playing their final show together in December of that same year. Along with fronting Children of Bodom, Laiho played in the bands Sinergy, Warmen, Kylähullut, and the Local Band. Prior to his death, Laiho and Bodom After Midnight recorded three songs and shot one music video, which will be released posthumously.