Lordi, the monster underdogs
Lordi, the monster underdogs of hard rock have been going since 1992 – initially as a solo project of front-man Mr Lordi. It wasn’t until 2002 were they granted their debut with their first album Get Heavy; which spawned the hit singles Would You Love a Monsterman and Devil is a Loser.
After 2002, they hit the dizzying heights of super stardom after their surprise win at Eurovision in 2006 which propelled the band into the global spotlight for a few years -but Eurovision hangover soon set in and Finland fell out of love with their monster champions.
Fast forward to present day, and on September 16th Lordi will release their 8th studio album – the pun-laden mouthful named Monstereophonic: Theaterror vs Demonarchy with AFM Records. It’s a path off the beaten track for Lordi, who have always sheltered in the comforting embrace of hard rock, dabbling more into metal with 2013’s To Beast or Not to Beast; and took more of a plunge into that ocean with 2014’s follow-up Scare Force One.
Monstereophonic is the first conceptual album by the band, produced by Nino Laurenne, with Theaterror as unashamedly balls-out 80s filthy hard rock and synth-laden ballads; whilst Demonarchy takes on a heavy metal slant, the band experimenting with a fantastical story of a witch, she-wolf, vampire count and zombie. Demonarchy also represents a first for the band in their history, with two guitars weaving the complex telling of the second-half.
As SCG8 – One Call Waiting starts, you are enthralled with one of the creepiest intros Lordi have ever done, that utilises fan favourite Ralph Ruiz and creates a spectacular atmospheric build up into the massive slab of 80’s synth intro which comes when Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man starts. The track maintains a heavy bombastic beat, but keeps the amazing 80’s sound which suits the subject matter perfectly. Mr L’s voice is on splendid form, and surprisingly varied from his characteristic gruff vocals to screams and animalistic growls. I feel He-Man is an awesome first track on a very promising album.
Next we slam straight into Hug You Hardcore, with a seriously aggressive offbeat guitar intro, with an edgy riff that slaps you around the face; and will continue to drill into your skull for the whole song. Disclaimer: it will stick in your head for a ridiculously long time. Vocals are pure guttural growls which echo the sentiment of the song, and the lyrics are perversely poetic; though in the second part of the chorus I find the lyrics are unintelligible which is a shame. After the hard-hitting HYH, things slow down with Down with the Devil which continues with the high-quality of this album, and is one of my personal favourites. It starts softly with harmonious keys; before the vocals kick in with a customary growl. Guitars and bass remain solid throughout, and follows the same formula of HYH by having a mid-song solo.
Mary’s Dead immediately gives up the fact it is a rare ballad from Lordi, with melancholy guitar and keys as it starts, and along with Sick Flick continues the roll of high points on this album. There is stellar riff work, thundering into rumbling vocals. SF also has a very 80’s hard rock vibe, with another build up to a solo and a nice hint of cowbell, before the final chorus and screaming vocals.
We slow the wrecking ball of hard rock with None for One, and the hard rock monsters bring us another ballad. It follows a similar formula to DWTD – the chorus utilises sombre vocals and decent guitar work, with a solo towards the end as seems to be the winning formula with Theaterror, and a decent finale to the first half.
SCGVIII is an arresting, fantastical instrumental, setting the scene into the Demonarchy half of the album, building into a climax whilst painting a picture with captivating keyboards; before the guitars hammer in the intro into Demonarchy. It starts hard and fast, as you get a taste of Lordi’s new experimental style. Guitars are heavy and lyrics are brutal, sounding like a completely different album to Theaterror – 6 minutes of pure metal.
Unholy Gathering takes a slower pace than Demonarchy, with prominent keys, and backing guitars accompanying the softer vocals. Then it hits 3 minutes in and then the brutality begins. It finishes on a creepy calling voice, before the album ploughs into Heaven Sent Hell on Earth next, which debuts with a cacophony of heavy guitars and screaming vocals. It is a beautiful song and well compiled, acting like a roller-coaster between the harsh and soft vocals, teasing guitars and then hard hitting metal riffs and a stellar bass solo.
And The Zombie Says continues the quality; starting heavy, building up the atmosphere with haunting guitar and keys. Guitars become sledgehammers, the vocals begin growling and screaming, with Mr L showing off his impressive range again as he softens for the chorus – it’s another belter of a song as we thunder into Break of Dawn. It eases you into its embrace slowly with haunting keys before drums and guitar come in and hit hard. The gruff vocals boom throughout the song, reflecting the cinematic epic battle between the ancients in the penultimate song. 4 minutes in there is an atmospheric progression with slow vocals before hard-hitting guitars power back in.
The Night the Monsters Died follows on from the BOD cliffhanger, heading straight into the track with a very 80’s synth section. It’s a relatively slow song as a fitting conclusion for the end of the monsters’ stories. Theatrical in delivery with booming vocals and strong instrumentation. The vocals start to scream as the monsters awake, with intense guitars before descending into the atmospheric slow finale.
In summary, Lordi’s 8th studio album is their best yet. A brassy mix of their previous albums, but with something entirely new in the form of Demonarchy; with fast metal and story telling songs which reach the impressive lengths of 7 minutes, which is new territory for this band. Lordi have formulated the songs perfectly, giving you instrumental clout that still maintains your interest.
Speaking even as a critic rather than a fan, it is clear to see how decent this album is. I found a couple of times that some of the lyrics were unintelligible – especially during HYH; but in general terms of production, instrumentation and content, Lordi and Nino Laurenne have hit a home run.
The album continues to deliver track-by-track, providing gleeful hard rock and thunderous heavy metal in one finely-tuned package. The two ‘sides’ of the album are so different and yet so very similar also, both having a blatant 80’s streak to them – Theaterror definitely more than Demonarchy – however both are quintessentially Lordi. I genuinely cannot stop listening to this album – as each listen unlocks another section of this chest of wonders, and the catchy songs of Theaterror stay in head for hours after my last listen.
Even if you are not a Lordi fan, I urge you to at least give this album a go – it is there strongest yet and I am pretty sure you would find something you liked in this album because the range is so vast.