The last time I saw Children of Bodom perform live ended up being one of the strangest nights of my life. That night saw a chain of events that included meeting Rob Lowe, inadvertently being recruited to spend the night caring for a reality-TV star whose drink had been drugged, and spending a 24-hour period being under the impression that my car had been stolen. While my heavy metal brain and my heavy metal heart are looking forward to seeing Children of Bodom perform at the House of Blues in Hollywood Friday night, the rest of my internal organs are slightly fearful of what will occur that night.
Children of Bodom's lead vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho has spent over a decade now entertaining hordes of metal-heads with screeching vocals and thrash guitar histrionics that contain a slightly over-the-top 80s feel. This will be the first chance for L.A. headbangers to see Alexi and his merry band of alcohol/murder-obsessed Finns perform songs live from their 2011 release, Relentless Reckless Forever, which continues the band's trademark blend of elements from death metal, black metal, thrash, and 80's guitar-hero shred.
Children of Bodom took inspiration for their band name from one of the most notorious incidents of murder that Finland has seen in modern times. In 1960, four teenagers camping on the shores of Lake Bodom in Finland were attacked by an unknown assailant with a knife. Three of the teenagers died of their injuries, and the fourth teenager was wounded. The survivor was eventually charged with the murder of his three companions in 2004, but was acquitted of all charges.
While the reasons that a heavy metal lover continues to be a fan of this scene may evolve and change as he/she gets older, one of the main attractions that lure many new heavy metal fans into the genre is its willingness to explore the darkest reaches of the human psyche. Children of Bodom are one of many heavy metal greats that have produced vicious art inspired by brutal crime scenes and slayings. For those that have the stomach to explore the more murderous part of the human psyche through musical forms, what follows below is a list of the top thirty metal songs inspired by some of the most horrific crimes that man has committed onto his fellow man.
Slayer – “Angel of Death”
“Auschwitz, the meaning of pain / The way that I want you to die”: The lead-off track to their revered 1986 album Reign In Blood, “Angel Of Death” fantastically served as a mission statement track that represented where Slayer was taking heavy metal during the time period, and unfortunately served as a launching point for controversy that would dog the band for much of its career. With lyrics based on the acts and experiments that Josef Mengele conducted on Jewish prisoners during World War II, Slayer was falsely characterized by many critics as a racist band, including shirtless swastika-tattooed Nazi dickheads that attend shows in the Inland Empire that have Slayer on the bill. FUN THING TO DO AT A SLAYER SHOW: Tell the shirtless Nazi asshole with the swastika-tattoo that Reign In Blood was produced by a Jew.
Iced Earth – “Jack”
“I cut you once, I cut you twice / You're my midnight sacrifice”: The best heavy metal song inspired by the unsolved-to-this-day murders by Jack The Ripper that plagued London in the 1880s, and by an American band to boot. With the third track of their 2001 album Horror Show, Iced Earth uses the bombast of their traditional heavy metal sound to boost this tale of one of the seedier murder cases in history to something more than exploitation. “Jack” could be referred to as the David Fincher's Zodiac of heavy metal songs about serial killers.
Celtic Frost – “Into The Crypts Of Rays”
“Years of plead, behind the walls / Chambers and vaults, scenes of fright” : Much like “Angel Of Death” did for Slayer, the first track from Celtic Frost's 1984 debut album Morbid Tales, “Into The Crypts Of Rays” served as a mission statement for what Celtic Frost brought to the table, leading off an album that would serve as an influential template for the evolution of the genres of death metal and black metal. The song also served to tell the tale of Gilles de Rais, who is estimated to have murdered anywhere between 80 and 200 children while fighting alongside Joan Of Arc in the 15th century. Despite a confession being on record, there are some that had claimed that Gilles was framed for political reasons due to his growing involvement with the occult. What is not in dispute is that Celtic Frost's landmark album helped lay the blueprint for sounds explored by many bands within the underground metal scene for years to come.
Church Of Misery – “Megalomania (Herbert Mullin)”
“Earthquake will come here California / No one can stop disaster but I'm the only one”: One of two bands on this list whose entire output consists of songs inspired by the acts of serial killers (we'll get to the other in a minute — that entry here is a doozy), Tokyo's Church Of Misery penned this ode to one of the more fantastically paranoid serial killers profiled via song on their 2001 album Masters Of Brutality. Herbert Mullin was a delusional California man that was told by voices that a major earthquake was on its way, but that he could stop it by committing murderous sacrifices. Mullin at one point blamed drug use for the problems that led him to murder thirteen people in the early 1970s. Church Of Misery's sludgy and dirty Sabbath-y tale of his madness sounds equally as inspired by a love of the drugs. I am glad they are making music instead of murdering people, and hope they continue that trend for years to come.
Macabre – the entire Dahmer album
“When Jeffrey was a boy / He didn't like his toys / Instead he'd dissect roadkill / Because that's what he enjoyed” : This album is the reason why this list is technically a “Top 30” list. The rest of the bands profiled here have told tales about bad people that have done things that are very undesirable to even contemplate. However, Chicago-metallers Macabre are the only ones of this list to make you laugh about those bad people too (and man do I feel guilty about it after I think about it for a few minutes). Much like Church Of Misery, Macabre also specializes in songs about serial killers. However while Church Of Misery goes for the seedy underbelly and the sound of doom, Macabre adds a little bit of whimsy to the mix. At times resembling like a death metal musical, Macabre's 2000 album Dahmer consists of 26 tracks that tell the life story of Milwaukee's cannibalistic contribution to serial killer lore, Jeffrey Dahmer, from life to death. It is a more complete and more compelling (and definitely more humorous) telling of Dahmer's tale than the shitty 2002 film of the same name that pay-TV movie channels have been tricking viewers into watching because it stars future action-hero Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), despite having a shorter running time by 45 minutes.
I'm sure there are many songs out there that you feel I may be slighting here. Anytime before or after seeing Children Of Bodom Friday night at the House Of Blues in Hollywood (with openers Devin Townsend Project, Obscura, and Septicflesh), feel free to use the space below to let us know the songs that you feel deserve to be on this list and why.
And given the subject matter of the second half of this blog post, I guess there are a lot worse things that can happen on a night out than strange run-ins with celebrities and a false alarm regarding stolen property.