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Friday, June 20, 2008

Children of Bodom

Staff Writer

In the crowded world of Scandinavian hard rock, where dozens of subgenres vie for the attention of fans who just want power chords, the Finnish death-metal band Children of Bodom are iconoclasts.

News photo
Children of Bodom

Formed in 1993 by guitarist Alexi Laiho and drummer Jaska Raatikainen, the group actively recruited musicians strong on technique and theory, and while metalheads as a rule tend to be more fixated on chops, CoB took it to another level.

For one thing, Laiho insisted that keyboards play as big a role in the band's unholy sound as the guitars do, and in Janne Wirman he got the Sviatoslav Richter of the headbanging set. Wirman's nuanced and complex gothic swirl offsets the extreme aggression that rules this end of the cemetery, but Laiho is no slouch either. He was voted one of the 50 fastest pickers in the world by Guitar World magazine, and Metallica's Kirk Hamnett once named him the best ax-slinger of all.

But what really sets Laiho apart is his songwriting, which is almost punk in its adherence to manageable song length and memorable riffs. Though he attempted suicide once and has the word "hate" tattooed on his left hand, CoB, named after a Finnish lake that was the site of a series of grisly murders, may be considered too prog by death-metal diehards, who prefer the maggot-eating purity of Norwegian groups such as Mayhem and Dimmu Borgir. Still, there's enough thrash in CoB's music to satisfy anyone's desire for extreme music. Bring your own neck brace.

July 5 & 6, 5 p.m., Studio Coast, Tokyo ([03] 3462-6969); July 7, 7 p.m., Diamond Hall, Nagoya ([052] 265-2666); July 9, 7 p.m., Namba Hatch, Osaka ([06] 7732-8888); July 10, 7 p.m., Hiroshima Club Quattro ([082] 542-2280); July 11, 7 p.m., Drum Logos, Fukuoka ([092] 714-0159). All shows ¥7,000 in advance.

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