Bodom After Midnight – “Paint The Sky With Blood” EP (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
This will be a very difficult listen for any fan of Children Of Bodom and especially anyone who felt close to late guitarist/vocalist Alexi Laiho, coming so soon after his passing. To say that it still feels like he is very much still here is an understatement when listening to this 3 song EP, and I write this review in an emotional mixture of grief at his loss but also joy, knowing that this successor band was not just a commendable continuation to Children Of Bodom’s greatness, but actually went back to its glory days following the release of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” 21 years ago. Made up of 2 new tracks plus a befitting cover of Dissection’s ‘Where Dead Angels Lie’, “Paint The Sky With Blood” does indeed achieve that through its incredible mixture of melodic death metal and epic Finnish melodies, especially through Laiho’s guitar mastery, and all with a spiritual energy that makes me feel he’s seeing things off one last time. Joined by Children Of Bodom’s rhythm guitarist Daniel Freyberg, bassist Mitja Toivonen (ex-Santa Cruz) and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen (Paradise Lost), the title track opener ‘Paint The Sky With Blood’ blitzes in through an instantly recognisable sound while Laiho’s blasting ice cold scream is a shocker in itself as the powering melodies dance and wail through the blast beating blizzard as it twists and turns, captivating you ceaselessly throughout. Raging in on ‘Payback’s A Bitch’ as chundering riffs combine with more spiralling melodies along with heavy duty kick beats, the fretboard wizardry is why Laiho was revered by many and his intense instrumental interplay with the other band members here is nothing short of blinding. As such, the choice of ‘Where Dead Angels Lie’ is an apt one given the accomplished musicianship needed to pull off this challenging piece, especially in its dark atmosphere of ominous chords and melancholic clanging melodies, yet with Laiho’s own melodic brilliance adding his own touch to the mastery of the still much lamented Jon Nödtveidt. With a life definitely cut short, we will never know how much more joy the talent of Alexi Laiho could have brought to many others, however, “Paint The Sky With Blood” gives us an inkling as to how bright his future might’ve been, and that in itself makes his loss all the more heart breaking.