Death Metal Project Bodom After Midnight Discuss Searing EP ‘Paint the Sky with Blood’
Drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, also part of U.K. metal veterans Paradise Lost, talks about working with late Finnish metal great Alexi Laiho
As far as short-lived projects go, European melodic death metal band Bodom After Midnight will have a bittersweet place in history. In early 2020, guitarist-vocalist Alexi Laiho and guitarist Daniel Freyberg announced the breakaway group, even as they drew the curtain on famed extreme metal band Children of Bodom with a final performance in December 2019.
Bodom After Midnight – completed by Finnish drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, bassist Mitja Toivonen and live keyboardist Vili Itäpelto – then became the new vehicle for the Finnish musicians. Even as they were chipping away at their debut full-length album, Laiho passed away due to health complications in December 2020. The project has now bowed out with a handful of material on their three-track EP Paint the Sky with Blood, released on April 23rd via Napalm Records. Drummer Väyrynen terms it “a strange feeling” to know that the EP will be their first and last release. He adds, “But I’m happy to get these songs out. This EP is always going to be a very important release for me.”
Invited onboard via Freyberg in late 2019 when the disintegration of Children of Bodom was imminent, Väyrynen tells Rolling Stone India that the new band was never functioning as just Laiho’s project. “Of course, they were Alexi’s songs, but when we arranged the songs, it was very much a group effort […] It was very important for Alexi as well, that it was never going to be solo band or whatever. It was a new band where everybody was like an equal member,” he says.
Väyrynen, drummer for U.K. metal veterans Paradise Lost, had been friends with Freyberg for over seven years and says it was a “no brainer” to join Bodom After Midnight when he was asked. “It’s a dream come true for me. I was really into them already when I was a little kid because my parents were listening to metal and they still do. That’s how I got into heavier music at a very early age,” the drummer says.
Perhaps fueled by the fact that he was in the company of a metal frontrunner like Laiho, the drummer certainly ploughs his way through incendiary title track, the more playful yet power-packed song “Payback’s a Bitch” and a journeying version of “Where Dead Angels Lie,” originally by Swedish metallers Dissection. Väyrynen says, “It was very different from what I’m used to with my other bands, because Alexi never made any demos of the songs. Instead, he just showed up in the rehearsal place and he played the riffs to us. Then he would ask Daniel to play and that would go on top of his riffs, and then he would ask me to try out some different drum beats. That’s how the songs sort of came out, by just jamming.”
Even as writing was underway in the midst of the pandemic, Bodom After Midnight seized a chance to perform live in October last year, with three shows in Finland. Väyrynen recalls how it led him to so many perspectives about performing and touring. “I was nervous as fuck,” he adds with a laugh. The Bodom After Midnight shows had come about after being postponed “like three or four times” and after all their summer festival dates and European tour plans for the Spring of 2020 had been canceled owing to the pandemic.
With strict social distancing rules in place, Bodom After Midnight took to the stage in the town of Seinäjoki for what the drummer calls a “rewarding” experience. “We had been rehearsing the whole year. We were so sick of the rehearsal place that we were so eager to get to play live. I will definitely always remember those three shows,” Väyrynen says. The final time the members met with Laiho was during the music video shoot for “Paint the Sky with Blood.”
With the project ending unexpectedly, the drummer still has Paradise Lost to look forward to, plus his work with Finnish death metal stalwarts Abhorrence and getting behind the kit as a live member for Swedish death metal band Bloodbath. “We will hit the road as soon as possible with Paradise Lost, because we released a new album [Obsidian] last year and we haven’t been able to play any shows since then. So I think whenever that’s possible, there’s gonna be a hell of a lot touring,” the drummer says.
Watch the video for “Paint the Sky with Blood.” Stream the EP here.