What was supposed to be the beginning of a new chapter, ended up being a posthumous publication. During 2020, Alexi Laiho and his new band BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT went to the studio to record an EP to be published in 2021. As we all know, things took a different turn as Laiho passed away on December 2020. Luckily for all fans around the world, BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT did finish their recordings and the band’s first and last EP, “Paint the Sky with Blood,” was announced to be released on April 13th, 2021, by Napalm Records, and the music video for the title song on March 30th. Getting my hands on the EP felt unsurprisingly emotional. Knowing these would be the last songs Laiho ever composed gave me the chills before even pressing the play button. So, let’s do this one last time.
As the first chords of “Paint the Sky with Blood” begin playing, one can instantly recognize that this is Laiho‘s doing – at least as the long scream begins. The verse reminds me a bit of “I Worship Chaos,” with the rhythm and guitar riff under the vocals. The song includes those familiar and dear classical elements as well. At first, the song sounds a bit restless with its changing pace, but despite those different elements and changes, everything stays together – like a super ball bouncing in a closed box. As the song goes further and gets to the chorus, one could only imagine how awesome this song would have sounded live, with crowd screaming “FIGHT” and throwing their horns up. The best part of the song is definitely the guitar solos, which made my heart jump with excitement. For me, it sounded as though they were being played with joy and maybe even a sigh of relief – the burden is off the shoulders, darker days are behind, and now it’s time to make a comeback.
“Payback’s a Bitch” doesn’t offer any mercy either. The song starts straight away with a riff that could be described even as groovy, which brings the song a nice catchiness and something that draws your attention. It may not be quite as gripping as “Paint the Sky with Blood,” but definitely has a story to tell. The song definitely has a great rhythm to mosh along with and even has a quick solo battle between guitars and keyboards.
The ending track is a cover song from Swedish DISSECTION, “Where Dead Angles Lie.” I have a history of trying really hard to get excited about black metal as a genre and failing hard in this. As a result, I wasn’t really hyped for this cover beforehand, but I have to admit, I kind of like the atmosphere this song has. What gives this cover the BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT stamp is obviously Laiho’s vocals.
Making comparisons between CHILDREN OF BODOM and BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT doesn’t feel like a fruitful point of view, but I cannot help but to address some things. First of all, even though the songs are mainly composed by Laiho and easy to recognize as such, the “Paint the Sky with Blood” EP still manages to sounds like a different band – which is only natural considering half of the members are new. It is also a positive thing, as instead of trying to be a complete replica of what CHILDREN OF BODOM was, the songs and sounds seem to draw from the strengths of the new members, though still being recognizably Laiho’s doing. BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT doesn’t sound like a project where Laiho just picked musicians to play in the background, but a tight group of professionals that were ready to take on the metal world together.
One of the most noticeable differences is the role of keyboards. With CHILDREN OF BODOM, the unison and harmonies between Laiho and Janne Wirman was one of the aspects that made the band’s music so special. With BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT’s songs, the keyboards are mostly an accompaniment as the guitars take the lead role, excluding the solo in “Payback’s a Bitch.” Though in all fairness, two songs are hardly enough to make wider assumptions on this.
To sum it up, I feel like the EP does just what it was meant to do: act as an appetizer for something bigger and better to come. Unfortunately, we are now left with just that. Based on previous experiences, I know a full album of BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT could have offered something even catchier and grander compared to what was introduced in this EP, but we can be happy and grateful that we could even get this glimpse of new material before losing one of the greatest guitar players in the world.
Written by Essi N.
- Paint the Sky with Blood
- Payback’s a Bitch
- Where Dead Angles Lie (Dissection cover)
Alexi Laiho – vocals & guitar
Daniel Freyberg – guitar
Mitja Toivonen – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums