5 interesting facts that you haven’t heard before about Children Of Bodom’s Hatebreeder album

Children Of Bodom arrived at Astia-studio around late 1998 to record a successor to their highly gold-selling debut album Something Wild. The working title for the album was Towards Dead End that later changed to Hatebreeder. It consists of songs such as Warheart, Silent Night Bodom Night and the there-was-no-show-without-it single chart #1 Downfall. By reading this blog post you’ll learn 5 interesting facts that you haven’t heard before about Children Of Bodom‘s Hatebreeder album.

Hatebreeder was a massive leap from Something Wild on so many levels.
Alexi Laiho on Kerrang! Magazine interview

Do you like Children Of Bodom, a Finnish metal band that has over 2,4 million Facebook followers, and especially their early albums are close to your warheart? If you are eager to learn details about the making of the Hatebreeder album straight from the source, this is definitely your cup of Finnish metal. The writing includes previously unreleased photos from the album session that I both produced and recorded at Astia-studio.

Read also these Children Of Bodom related posts:

5 interesting facts that you haven’t heard before about Children Of Bodom’s Hatebreeder album

“Dude! Murder-lakers! Second longplay! About a month, huh!?!” – These are the opening words of a phone call to reserve studio time for recording Hatebreeder album at Astia-studio. The call was from Spinefarm Records and it was the amazing Mr Ewo Pohjola, who is known today as the manager of another cool Finnish metal band Nightwish.

Back then reserving studio time was simple and there was no need for such procrastination we now are too familiar with. A short conversation took care of it and all parties were committed. Earlier the same year we’d tracked a brief demo and recorded two singles; Children Of Bodom and Towards Dead End.

At the time I was also touring with the Bodom guys as their FOH (front-of-house) mixing engineer, tour manager, roadie, guitar/drum/keyboard tech, light engineer, monitor engineer and buss driver mostly all at once. They performed new songs live as bands used to do before YouTube changed that. Bands would test new material with the live audience to see how they’d react. What could’ve been more cool than to witness the evolution of the new compositions from one show to the next. Each night they transformed closer to the shape that we later captured on the album.

Like with the debut we recorded Hatebreeder at Astia-studio, Finland. At the time the location was in the very center of the city of Lappeenranta. The members Alexander Kuoppala, Alexi Laiho, Henkka Seppälä, Janne Wirman and Jaska Raatikainen arrived to start the session on December 4th 1998.

Once again I used the Adat system as a recording medium where each S-VHS tape has 8 tracks. Since the debut I had gotten two Adat recorders more so that we wouldn’t run out of tracks. Hatebreeder was recorded on five Adat machines making the track count to the total of 40.

We were clueless fucking kids from the North Pole who hadn’t seen anything from anywhere. But we were full-on and we were ready to kick everyone and anybody in the face. We wanted to fucking kill everybody. That was the Hatebreeder mentality.
Alexi Laiho on Kerrang! Magazine interview

Hatebreeder – Downfall lyrics and track sheet from the Astia-studio archive in 1998
Harjunpää aka Downfall lyrics and track sheet from the Astia-studio archive in 1998.

1. The working title of Downfall during recording

Bands usually have working titles that sometimes live long after the album release. They tend to mention the band or a song that inspired the composer to give birth to the new tune. Some of the working titles on Hatebreeder album include Kreator, Stonehenge, Guinnes, Uusi 2, Tuiwards and Something Wild.

On the photo above is the original lyrics and track sheet for Downfall. The lyrics have markings about the Adat tape machine tape times. When working with tape it is essential as the other option would include fast forwarding and rewinding blindly. On the bottom of the lyric sheet we have a list of keyboard sounds. The middle column has words “Soolo Jens” that might be a reference to the Stratovarius keyboard wizard Mr Jens Johansson. We most likely used the solo sound he’d shared with Janne Wirman.

The track sheet tells what instrument is on which track of the multitrack tape. Reading it some 22 years later managed to raise my interest about the comment at “Nootteja” (notes) section that loosely translates to “Add mayo to the end!”. I wonder if we had any and if yes, was it enough…

And when talking about working titles I should say that long after the album release this song was referred to as Harjunpää. No further comment is made on the subject at the moment.

Hatebreeder – Silent Night Bodom Night structure map and track sheet
Silent Night, Bodom Night structure map and track sheet from the Astia-studio archive 1998.

2. Silent Night, Bodom Night structure map

Let’s continue with the archived material. Here’s the structure map and track sheet of Uusi 1 aka Bed of Mad-onna, a song that you might know by the name of Silent Night Bodom Night. A funny detail on the structure map, the paper on the left, is Alexi’s drawing. The fleeing victim is running away from the axe murderer whose speed is demonstrated by the amount of legs he has. I think Alexi’s drawings too are genuinely awesome. Oh what treasures the Astia-studio archive might hold… But let’s get back to the topic.

Silent Night, Bodom Night structure map includes the following names for the parts:
1. At the gates
2. Metustrato
3. Iskut/Espanja/Mexico
4. Ch
5. Eri variaatioita metustratosta
6. Harppuriffi/Mun ja shakman soolot
7. Ch

Let’s translate the parts, shall we. “Iskut” means hits with pause in between, “Ch” stands for the chorus and “eri variaatioita metustratosta” means different variations of metustrato. “Harppuriffi” means the harp riff and “Mun ja shakman soolot” stands for the solos by me and shakma. In case you wonder what the solo part of shakma is all about, it’s unfortunately way too confusing and long to include in this post. Let’s just say that it’s a wild reference to a movie, an evening that included plenty of alcohol and a dirty door of a tour wagon.

Hatebreeder – Bed of Razors and Warheart track sheet from the Astia-studio archive
Guinnes aka Bed of Razors and Warheart track sheet from the Astia-studio archive 1998.

3. What was captured at the beginning of Warheart?

*This chapter does not translate correctly from Finnish, yet I’m doing my best to deliver the original context as genuine as possible*

Before pushing the record button the recording engineer usually checks whether the musician is ready. I never favoured using something as boring as “are you ready?” on a day to day basis. So during that time my question was: “Shoult we ko?”.

Let’s first talk a bit about what’s that literally about. Without my grandfather I never would have pursued my dream about Astia-studio and I am in eternal gratitude towards him. My grandfather would visit the studio pretty often and got familiar with the musicians. The members of Children Of Bodom met him several times and he made an indelible impression on them.

I clearly recall the question from the Bodom members: “Is it true that your grandfather isn’t able to pronounce the letter D at all?” – I confirmed and added that neither he couldn’t pronounce any of the “foreign alphabets” including B, D, F & G. The Bodom guys couldn’t stop smiling when I told them that he says his home address is “apartment nine tee, as in tavit”. What he meant was “D as in David”.

It didn’t take long for the Bodom guys to start talking like Anssi’s grandpa. Even today when I communicate with them they still talk like him. My grandfather used the term “Anssi’s tutio” and that is how the Bodom guys still refer to Astia.

And as we now have the background info, let’s continue with the topic. My ability to synchronise the are-you-ready question with pressing the record button turned out as a success when tracking the Warheart lead vocals. The take you hear on the album has a little something extra that was left out during mixing.

I managed to capture a word from Alexi just before the song starts as he whispers a reply to my question if we should go. That word is “Lähtetään” which translates as “lets ko” and immediately after that the song starts. With the special permission from the band you now get to hear the rough mix I made in January -99. Just before the first hit you can hear Alexi’s soft and brief whisper: “Lähtetään”.

Oh and on the picture above are the track sheets for Bed Of Razors and Warheart. The first one has a list of the microphones used to record the drums.

Hatebreeder – Janne Wirman, Alexi Laiho and Kimberly Goss at Astia-studio in 1998
On the left: Janne Wirman at the kitchen of the new Astia-studio. On the right: Alexi Laiho and Kimberly Goss at the old Astia-studio corridor during the Hatebreeder session in 1998.

4. Keyboard recording at the truckers’ locker room

By autumn -98 I’d found a new studio facility just a few kilometres from downtown of Lappeenranta. A company had used this 750 m2 (8 072 ft2) building for washing and repairing their trucks and with the space would allow us to have a lot more room to do music. I was on the hunt for half the size building, yet this facility immediately felt like home. The solution to the problem with the space, as there was lots of it, was to build not one but two separate 130 m2 (1 400 ft2) professional studio facilities.

Even though we tracked the Hatebreeder album seven days a week without any days off, we still didn’t manage to finish on time. And so the next band arrived for the session. Officially Astia moved to the new location in spring -99 once the construction of the studios was complete. So we ended up recording the final parts for the Hatebreeder album under special circumstances.

As the 500 m2 (5 381 ft2) hall side of the building would have been way too echoy, I gathered a small recording setup to the former truckers locker room. Nowadays that’s where the famous HC sauna and downstairs bedroom are. There the amazing Mr Janne Wirman played the final keyboard parts for the album.

Photos below are from the session.

Hatebreeder – Janne Wirman playing keyboard at the temporary recording location in 1998
Janne Wirman performed the last keyboard parts for the Hatebreeder album under a special circumstances at Astia-studio in 1998.

5. The dilemma with the Warheart arpeggios

In the former truckers locker room the recordings proceeded as planned and we were down to the last few parts. Janne scheduled the Warheart cembalo arpeggios, a unisono part with the lead guitar, as one of the last tasks. So now the time had come.

I rewinded the tape to the exact part of Warheart and pressed play. I wish I’d recorded what happened next as the part sounded purely horrible! Not many of the notes were correct with the lead guitar.

Janne was at least as amazed as I was. Despite all the hours spent on rehearsing the keyboard and guitar were far from what you’d expect to hear. As a matter of fact he played the part exactly as Alexi had shown, yet it didn’t match.

We called Alexi who’d gone to Helsinki and asked if he had the explanation to what was going on. In his special way he confessed changing the pattern at the last minute to a better one. Naturally we too wanted the result to be nothing short of breath-taking to say the least, yet how should we play the pattern? Alexi had no answer as he’d played the part with maximum emotion and had no recollection whatsoever about the notes. With a smile he told us this famous phrase that you can listen to by turning up the volume and clicking here. And left Janne and me wondering about how to solve the situation…

The only solution was to listen to the tape over and over again to learn Alexi’s part note by note. We spent the next hour or so rewinding the tape and slowly transcribed the arpeggios. I should remind you that doing so in DAW is pretty easy. When it comes to tape, such activity equals a vast amount of rewinding making the task a bit more time consuming and difficult, yet not impossible.

Once the pattern was clear Janne had to not only memorise it, but to rehearse it to the muscle memory. This helps to make playing sound much more natural. If we’d done things half-assed a lot of stuff would be completed sooner. Yet, to make things sound effortless and natural is one of the trademarks you can sense from the Children Of Bodom albums I produced.

That makes it more pleasant to listen to and of course with Warheart we didn’t make any compromise. We completed the Warheart arpeggios and even today they sound awesome.

Hatebreeder – Alexander Kuoppala and Henkka T. Blacksmith 1998
Alexander Kuoppala and Henkka T. Blacksmith on their way to the Hatebreeder session at Astia-studio in 1998.

6. Anjovis bonus

I know I promised only five interesting facts, but let’s have one more. And as a matter of fact I guarantee you’ve never heard this one before as it is a very very special one. Who plays the pre-chorus harmony lead guitar which is placed on the left speaker on the title track Hatebreeder?

To find out who it was, you’ll need to turn up the volume and click this link.

Hatebreeder – Children Of Bodom promo photos from the Astia-studio archive
Children Of Bodom promo photos from the Astia-studio archive.

Children Of Bodom: Hatebreeder

It was a great pleasure to work both as the producer and recording engineer on the Children Of Bodom’s 2nd album. It is often referred to as the middle release on the color trilogy aka the green album. The band was hungry for success and had the urge to create something larger than life.

It was amazing to witness them being creative at very close range. My notes say that we recorded 10 songs in 291 hours during 29 days. Towards Dead End was the only song that we recorded in two separate parts that were combined after mixing.

I was delighted when Svart Records, a well-known label that makes lots of re-releases on vinyl, contacted me around autumn 2019. They wanted me to make vinyl mastering for the first two Children Of Bodom albums. I used the original master and a master copy and recorded the material to magnetic tape. Timmion Cutting was responsible for transferring the music from the tapes to vinyl form and once again they did an awesome job.

The amount of positive feedback was tremendous for both albums. Most said that they’d never experienced Something Wild and Hatebreeder sounding this warm. Around the time of the original release the vinyl records were out of style and CD master was what they’d put on the vinyl records.

4 interesting facts that you haven't heard before about Children Of Bodom's Hatebreeder album

Hatebreeder rankings

Did you know that Loudwire listed 90 best rock & metal albums from the 90’s and Hatebreeder was the only Finnish release on the list? This album that I both produced and recorded is in the middle of the list at#45. It ranks higher than Guns N’ Roses: Use Your Illusion I & II, Emperor: In the Nightside Eclipse, At the Gates: Slaughter of the Soul, Sepultura: Arise and Mayhem: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Check the full Loudwire list along with the comments here.

Popular Finnish metal webzine KaaosZine ranked Hatebreeder in 2018 as the best COB album. Read the whole list with comments in Finnish by clicking this link.

In Finland Hatebreeder sold platinum and peaked at #6 on the official albums chart, which at the time was highly unlikely for an extreme metal band. Both Children Of Bodom and Downfall singles went gold and were #1 on the Finnish singles chart. Which song is your most favorite on the album and why?

Sharing = caring

Thank you very much for sharing these Hatebreeder moments with me. It was awesome to listen to the album after so many years, yet still remembering each and every note. And also how the music brought up the situations and circumstances that the Bodom guys and I experienced during the recording session.

If you like this blog post, please do share it on social media. This way you’ll help other Bodom fans to enjoy the information shared here.

Would you like to see more rare photos from the early days of Children Of Bodom? Follow Astia-studio on Instagram by clicking here and check our throwback posts. Thank you very much and all the very best!

Read more session experiences at Astia-studio from these blog posts:

Astia-studio is a full analog recording studio located in eastern Finland with over 25 years of experience. Bands and artists from all over the world including USA and the furthest corner of Russia, Vladivostok have arrived to us for tape recording sessions.

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