Combining elements of melodic death metal, power metal, neo-classical, and thrash, Children of Bodom have been one of the world's most expansive and hard to define bands since their formation in 2003. Founded by lifelong friends Alexi Laiho (guitar/vocals) and Jaska Raatikainen (drums), the band originally formed under the name Inearthed. Along with bassist Samuli Miettinen, Laiho and Raatikainen mined their love of classic death metal for inspiration, channeling the aggression of bands like Entombed and Obituary into their sound. Though he was Inearthed's primary songwriter, Miettinen's time in the band was cut short when his family moved to the United States. The band continued on, recruiting Henkka Seppälä as a replacement, as well as expanding the group's lineup with a second guitarist, Alexander Kuoppala, and a keyboardist, Janne Wirman.
In 1997, after years of unsuccessfully courting labels with demo recordings, the band gained the attention of Belgian label Shiver, which signed the group with the intent to release its debut album, Something Wild. Inearthed quickly found their cup running over with interest when, right after they signed on with one label, a bigger label, Spinefarm Records, also became interested in the band. They eventually decided to go with Spinefarm, and changed their name from Inearthed to Children of Bodom (based on the Lake Bodom murders in their hometown of Espoo) so they could sign a new contract with the label, which eventually released their debut later that year.
Things took off quickly for Children of Bodom, who entered into a relentless European touring and recording schedule that resulted in the quick release of their second album, Hatebreeder, in 1999, and their third album, Follow the Reaper, the next year. The group had a big year in 2003 when, after releasing Hate Crew Deathroll, it was named Finnish Band of the Year at the Finnish Music Awards. This was also the year of their first world tour, though the tour would prove to be a double-edged sword when, despite gaining them exposure in North America, it resulted in the unexpected departure of Kuoppala, who found himself growing tired of a life spent on the road. The band recruited guitarist Roope Latvala, who was already well known as a founding member of Stone, to replace him, and continued to tour.
Their next album, Are You Dead Yet?, arrived in 2005, though the touring was cut short after Laiho injured his shoulder a couple of years later, forcing the band off the road while the guitarist recovered. This didn't stop them from working on new material, however, and their sixth album, Blooddrunk, appeared in 2008, followed by Relentless, Reckless Forever in 2011.