The first time I ever heard about Lordi, I thought they were something like GWAR. In a way, they are when you consider the monster suits, but I meant musically. You know, second rate Metal – to put it kindly. That’s why it took a while for me to even be bothered with checking this lot out and when I did, it was by accident. I was watching one of those compilation-videos and “Would You Love A Monsterman” showed up. I got hooked immediately by the band’s mixture of classic Heavy Metal and 80’s Arena Rock/Melodic Rock and with that, I decided to give the band a fair go. I still really dig their first four albums but since Babez For Breakfast (2010) their albums has been very much up and down quality wise and even though I don’t think they ever made a throughout crappy album, many of those record was uneven. The last album Sexorcism (2018) also showed a whole new level of bad taste, lyrically – and I’m not a sensitive guy at all.
This time, however, Lordi has come up with a theme that’s close to a strike of genius. Lordi promotes the record as a compilation album offered by a Hard Rock radio host whose aim is to play this never before heard record for his listeners for the first time, making all the SCG’s here – intermissions in between songs, short for “Scarctic Circle Gatherings”, whatever that might mean – being the DJ talking about music, the record and taking call from listeners all while being interfered by demonic entities, interrupting with evil shenanigans. I usually find little joy in Lordi’s SCG’s but on this album they really have a big role in the album’s theme. If the song quality is up to match, this album can very well be a most entertaining hour.
The album opens with said DJ going on about this record and playing snippets of Lordi playing their own material rearranged to sound like classic bands like AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, King Diamond, Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne. How brilliant. That leads us into the opening track “Horror For Hire”, a song that starts with an eerie keyboard intro only to burst into some classic Metal riffing and continuing on a kicking rhythm, upbeat and quite rough. Like Alice Cooper fronting Accept, the tune takes on a more straight Hard Rock vibe where the melodies are bang on target and the more, classic Lordi chorus is Melodic Rock laden with a striking hook. Very good. Leading single “Shake The Baby Silent” comes along with a tough, fat rhythm, big grooved with a slight disco-flirt and some 90’s Rob Zombie-like swing. It’s an aggressive tune with very direct melodies. The title however, is a bit too close to reality and I might be sensitive on this issue, but I really don’t see anything entertaining with shaking babies silent, horror-story or not.
One of the most interesting songs on the album is “Like A Bee To The Honey” for the mere fact that it’s written by Jean Beauvoir and Paul Stanley (Kiss) from back in the day. The tune is a big pop-rocker, mid 80’s style on a pop groove, big on 80’s sounding keyboards. Style wise, it reminds me a lot of Beauvoir’s mid 80’s solo albums with a more Hard Rock outlook. Michael Monroe shows up for a cameo, duetting with Mr Lordi – and he brought his saxophone as well to lend them a solo. Hooks are everywhere, making all melodies memorable and on top a massive chorus so catchy it hurts. Should be a single. Awesome. “Apollyon” is an upbeat, AOR-like stomper, smooth and slick in the verses but it gets both heavier and more Hard Rock-laden along the way. If that wasn’t enough, the tune is also slightly symphonic and brings on a slight musical-theatre vibe. With lots of keyboards, a bass synth, a horn-section and even some proggy twirks the song sure takes them out of their box. But fear not, a hooky and and huge refrain also show up, very direct but not hitty at all. Very good, indeed.
Another radio DJ SCG takes us right into the next song “Blow My Fuse”, a sleazy, riffy hard-rocker with a rough and rowdy outlook and an early Alice Cooper feel where the band decides to cut a jam for good measure. The tune mixes up early Kiss – the guitar solo is all Ace Frehley – with late 60’s gritty rock and English pre-metal rock such as Cream on a meaty, organic stomp and another striking melody-line that hits home yet very far from being hit-searching. Great stuff. Second single “I Dug A Hole In The yard For You” is an upbeat, in-your-face pop-metal stomper, classic Lordi style. Which means Hard Rock based rocker with a slightly poppy Melodic Rock laden chorus with a whole bunch of hooks. To break things up a bit, we also get a King Diamond meets Alice Cooper like break in the middle in a slow and laid-back pace which creates a new dynamic to the song. Yes, this is very good.
Speaking of singles, the extremely infectious “Zombimbo” really should be one. Sure, it goes outside the box a great deal with its danceable beat that brings on a boogie swagger, some shots at disco and a whole lot of pure Pop, kind of Kiss’ “I Was Made Lovin’ You” hitting the floor with Rolling Stones’ “Miss You”. At times, it reminds me of a mr Lordi fronted Night Flight Orchestra where 70’s Classic Rock is mixed with early 80’s AOR. As for the chorus, it’s so brilliantly catchy with numerous of hooks and striking melodies. What the damn, this could have been a remake of a hit from the late 70’s/early 80’s. This goes to show you how effing cool things could get when you take a step out of your comfort zone. It’s easily one of the album’s highlights. To not release this as a single is a mistake, believe me you.
The only thing to do following up a song like “Zombimbo” is to go full-on Lordi again. So they do. “Up To No Good” is a straight-forward hard-rocker, melodic rock style. Riff-happy on a tough beat, Lordi shows us that they mean business. This is an anthem for sure, Lordi’s ode to the 80’s where “We’re Not Gonna take It” and “Rock You” ruled the earth. Memorable verses and a bulls-eye refrain might just make this a new live-favorite. Another SCG takes us to “Cutterfly”, a rough and dark Melodic Rock stomper where a more commercial King Diamond invites Bon Jovi of 1986 to a dance. It’s a somewhat schizophrenic tune – and I mean that in the best of ways – but it also contain a monstrous (sic!) chorus, huge with striking melodies that will make you hum for ages afterwards. This is awesome, folks!
“Evil” sounds just like the title says. It’s a hard, fast, aggressive and sinister Metal tune, heavy with lots of grit. There’s also a Black metal inspired keyboard and some of the riffs makes me think of Slayer. It’s faster in pace, more primitive and takes a whole other turn to the last few tunes. I think it’s an ok song, not more, but it’s necessary for the album’s dynamics so I’ll give it thumbs up anyway. The last tune on the album is called “Scream Demon”, a slow, heavy, dark and menacing number where the keyboard sound brings it an evil ambience. The song sends some 70’s Alice Cooper vibes our way that blends well with big Melodic Rock riffs and the massive chorus. Everything in the song feels kinda out of place but still natural. A great way to close the record musically. They close the album with the last SCG where the Hard Rock radio demon, who’s been interrupting the radio-show throughout the album, finally enters the studio as the last caller and over noises a demonic voice clears: “I AM HERE!”
As I wrote above, I think the concept for the album is brilliant and takes Lordi’s as of lately drying-out imagination to a whole new level which, at least from my point of view, makes the record a very interesting one. But there are more to this album that makes it their best for at least ten years. First of all, the song-writing quality has risen several levels and for the first time since I don’t know when, I actually believe that Lordi has recorded an album that will last for a long, long time. Second, I love it that this time they have taken a few steps out of their comfort zone and not just went for the usual Lordi stuff musically. Disco, Pop, Classic Rock and Boogie has been put in a blender with all the Lordi usuals and it has made the album a more fun and varied listen. Where the band will take it from here is anybody’s guess but for now, Lordi’s new record is a highly recommended listen. Well done.
More Lordi reviews:
1. Radio SCG 10
2. Horror For Hire
3. Shake The Baby Silent
4. Like A Bee To The Honey
6. SCG 10 The Last Hour
7. Blow My Fuse
8. I Dug A Hole In The Yard For You
10. Up To No Good
11. SCG 10 Demonic Semitones
14. Scream Demon
15. SCG 10 I am Here