Alexi Laiho, frontman with globally successful Finnish death metal band Children of Bodom, has died aged 41.
His bandmates in his current group, Bodom After Midnight, announced the news, writing on social media: “It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Alexi Laiho. We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken for the sudden loss of our dear friend and band member.”
A press release said he had “suffered from long-term health issues during his last years”. His wife, Kelli Wright-Laiho, said: “Alexi was the most loving and magnificent husband and father. Our hearts are eternally broken.”
Laiho, celebrated across the metal scene for his virtuosic skill on guitar, was born in Espoo in 1979, and began learning the instrument as a teenager. He formed the group Inearthed in his mid-teens inspired by the bleak, burgeoning metal scene across Scandinavia in the early 1990s as well as classic heavy metal. In 1997 the band changed their name to Children of Bodom, a reference to the murder of three teenagers at Espoo’s Lake Bodom in 1960.
They released their debut album, Something Wild, later in 1997, and their reputation grew across successive records, with fourth album Hate Crew Deathroll (2003) becoming the first of six Finnish chart-toppers. Their success then went global, with 2008’s Blooddrunk reaching No 22 in the US and the UK Top 50, a rare achievement for a death metal release. They put out 10 studio albums and two live LPs.
The group disbanded in 2019, playing a final concert in Helsinki in December that year, with Bodom After Midnight forming thereafter. Laiho was also a member of the bands Sinergy and Kylähullut (Finnish for “village idiots”) and formed Finnish supergroup the Local Band in 2013. Earlier in his career, Laiho guested with Impaled Nazarene and Thy Serpent.
Among those paying tribute was Alex Skolnick of Testament, who said Laiho “created new possibilities in extreme metal with technically sophisticated solos that held their own alongside the best in more popularised metal genres”.