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Timeless melodic death metal with a significant legacy - 90%

kluseba, May 16th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Napalm Records (Digipak)

Legendary melodic death metal guitarist and vocalist Alexi Laiho managed to record three songs with his new band Bodom After Midnight before passing away at the end of last year. The band decided to release this first and final extended play as a tribute to him. Paint the Sky with Blood does the outstanding artist's career justice and shows what could have become an absolutely astonishing band.

Even without the emotional connection associated to this release, this extended play offers three excellent songs for fifteen highly entertaining minutes. The opening title track is fast and gritty but also epic and melodic. The fast guitar riffs and powerful rhythm section collide with neoclassical guitar solos and playful keyboard passages. Alexi Laiho's charismatic vocals are supported by fierce backing vocals in the catchy chorus. This is easily the best song in many years written by Alexi Laiho and shows how hungry he still was so late in his career. The song would have deserved a spot on any early Children of Bodom record as well.

Second tune ''Payback's a Bitch'' starts with heavy breathing before energetic rhythm section, fierce guitar riffs and relentless vocals set in. The song is certainly less catchy than the opening tune but offers a grippingly oppressive atmosphere and more brutal musicianship that goes back to the middle years of Children of Bodom.

This extended play concludes with an excellent cover of Dissection's ''Where Dead Angels Lie''. The band kept the sinister atmosphere intertwined with melodic breaks from the original song and adapted it to its technically impressive melodic death metal style. The song is a little bit slower than the other two and this shift in pace successfully carries the track throughout six and a half minutes of almost cinematic entertainment. The original song is appreciated by many metal fans around the world but I believe that most of them would agree with me that this inspired cover song is on the same level.

Since this extended play offers only three songs, I would suggest collectors and fans to grab the splendid boxed set that includes an art print of Alexi Laiho, a flag, a pendant and a photocard of the band.

The band has played three concerts in Finland last October, performing seventeen vibrant Children of Bodom songs. These concerts have been professionally recorded. It would be amazing if one of those concerts could still be released under the Bodom After Midnight banner. The band was in excellent form and the setlist should appeal to any fan of Alexi Laiho's works.

At the end of the day, the purchase of Bodom After Midnight's excellent extended play Paint the Sky with Blood is highly recommended and already a solid candidate for extended play or even release of the year. The band's melodic death metal sound is timeless and will have a significant legacy under the special circumstances of its release. May Alexi Laiho rest in peace!

A Final Swim in Lake Bodom - 100%

The Dread Lord, April 25th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Napalm Records (Digipak)

Late last year, the metal community lost a legend and an icon in the scene. Alexi Laiho, vocalist and lead guitarist of Children of Bodom sadly passed away at the young age of 41. I remember when Under Grass and Clover came out in December 2018 as the first teaser track for the unfortunately last Children of Bodom album, Hexed, came out. I texted my friend in ecstasy, telling him how excited I was for the new album that they were releasing a new album, and that I thought it was their best song since Hatecrew Deathroll came out. Unfortunately, the band split up in December 2019, yet as the ashes of Children of Bodom smoldered, a new group rose from the ashes. Bodom After Midnight was spawned from the ashes of a band I loved a lot, and it was kind of exciting, however it seemed at the time to almost be a band for Alexi and Daniel to continue playing Bodom songs live for the fans. In October, they played three shows on three back to back nights, and we were told that new music was being recorded. Unfortunately, in December, as mentioned before, Alexi Laiho passed away. Thankfully, three songs and a music video were fully recorded, and showed that Laiho had seemingly been reinvigorated by the prospect of a new band. Now enough background information and my own experiences, how is the material here? What did Bodom After Midnight leave behind as a band?

As a whole, the EP does have a few differences from the Children of Bodom sound, though not necessarily a huge amount. The most noticeable is the much more subdued keyboard presence within the EP, leading to the guitars and bass sticking out more than they might have, especially Mitja's basslines, that otherwise could have been lost in the mix. Everything is crisp, clear, and precise, with tight performances from all the band members on the EP. The new guys really fit in here and the chemistry between the four was great. Alexi and Daniel delivered as usual, but prior to the release, I hadn't heard much of the other guys, though the drummer, Waltteri Vayrynen, plays with Paradise Lost, and Mitja Toivonen, the bassist, has played with a band known as Santa Cruz, which I'm still not incredibly familiar with, though both fit the band like gloves. The session keyboardist, Vili Itapelto, did a nice job handling the keyboards on the record, even if they weren't necessarily as dynamic and pronounced as Janne Wirmen's from Children of Bodom, which I am quite happy with, as he brought his own ideas and feel to his parts, without really sounding like Janne did. Now I guess to speak on the three tracks presented to us by the band.

Paint the Sky with Blood was the single released in late March 2021 to promote the EP that was being released by Napalm Records, and I gotta say that this song is absolutely awesome, and probably my favorite of the three tracks presented here. The song is catchy with an awesome chorus and punchy riffs, with an eighties style guitar solo where Alexi trades off from lead to rhythm while Daniel plays his own solo, kinda like KK Downing and Glenn Tipton would alternate between lead and rhythm in Judas Priest, which is backed up by a recent interview with Daniel Freyberg, where he mentions that Alexi wanted two lead guitarists in Bodom After Midnight, which helps show off both Alexi and Daniel's individual flair and tastes to that section of the song.

Payback's a Bitch isn't as melodic as the previous track and gives off an I Worship Chaos mixed with Hatecrew Deathroll feel to the sound, with a punk influenced opening riff to the song, though it still reminds me of old Bodom. Think Horns and Sixpounder mixed together. As with the previous song, it has an incredibly tasteful solo and the sort of things that would normally come from a Children of Bodom song. It's not my favorite of the two original songs on the release, but that's not me saying that Payback is a bad song, it's just a testament to how badass Paint the Sky with Blood truly is.

Where Dead Angels Lie is the third and final song on the release, and I'm not really sure what to say about the song, being that it's quite obviously a cover of the black metal anthem by Swedish titans Dissection. Everything here is executed perfectly by the band. It is played in D standard here on the EP, making it more in line with the live versions from Dissection's Live Legacy and Live in Stockholm/Live Rebirth, rather than the original from Storm of the Light's Bane, which actually might up my enjoyment of this cover, as it not only keeps in line to the aforementioned live versions of Dissection's classic song, but they also added a few keyboards to the song, which helps set it apart from the original.

This EP is a bittersweet moment for all Children of Bodom and Alexi Laiho fans, as these are not only the last new recordings of Laiho, but the first and last recording with what was a promising new band with a revitalized and reinvigorated icon at the helm. I do look forward to what Daniel, Waltteri, and Mitja bring us musically with different projects in the future, as I'm sure they won't disappoint us in the future with their various projects.

Rest easy Wildchild, Children of Bodom was a gateway band to the melodic side of black metal and death metal, and while I'm not entirely sure if he was an influence on my songwriting style, he, along with the rest of Children of Bodom were influential to my music taste and they will always have a soft spot in my heart.