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Lordi - To Beast Or Not To Beast (Album Review)

Monday, 04 March 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth
Lordi - To Beast Or Not To Beast (Album Review)

Lordi and I have something of a special relationship; it’s a relationship that I feel should be highlighted before delving into a full-blown review. The first time I was exposed to their monstrous hard rock was at the same time most other people were. The Eurovision Song Contest 2006. I was eleven years old at the time. My young, impressionable mind was pulverised into tiny little pieces as I watched the Finnish monster-rockers decimate the (usually rather dull) political pissing-contest. It was bizarre. It was shocking. It was completely new to me. That was the moment in which I realised I liked rock music. Well, rock music, pyrotechnics, and latex monster masks.

ImageSo, Lordi do hold a permanent place in my withered, barely-beating heart. Of course, I’m somewhat more acquainted to the various fields of heavy music nowadays; you’ll probably find me listening to the new Rotting Christ album rather than anything Lordi have churned out in recent years. I say this because I feel that they’ve suffered the same fate that so many other bands have done before them. Guns N’ Roses. Metallica. Slayer. I’m not comparing them musically, as that would be silly. But every single one of those bands peaked too early. They perfected their musical formulae too soon, now left limping in the shadows of former releases. They are forever cursed to produce ‘okay’ albums, or just fall off the tracks completely and collaborate with Lou Reed. I doubt that Lordi will ever work with members of The Velvet Underground (as fascinating as that may sound), but they never really topped the synth-laden, infectiously pompous racket of their 2002 debut, ‘Get Heavy’. The album boasted so many sing-alongs; every track had the potential to be a hit. Whilst every release since has included enough overblown choruses and key-changes to make their way onto the West End, none have retained the consistency of their debut.

Opening things up with a skin-crawling scream from Mr. Lordi, ‘To Beast Or Not To Beast’ sees the band set on reassuring their fans that they still have a few tricks left up their overly costumed sleeves. To the casual fan, this album will probably just seem like more of the same. All the key ingredients for a great Lordi album are present; Amen’s chunky guitar riffs being the main culprit here, providing the band with the beefy, masculine edge that they’ve always had. The lyrics are as cheesy and outright obnoxious as ever, with lead single ‘The Riff’ telling the story of a man who gives the Grim Reaper advice on how to write better songs.

However, rabid followers of Lordi’s monster-metal should find a plethora of hidden goodies to sink their fangs into with this latest outing. The introduction of new keyboardist Hella seems to have rejuvenated the band’s love for heroic synth-lines, with the keyboards during ‘We’re Not Bad For The Kids (We’re Worse)’ sounding like they came straight from a Crash Bandicoot game. Yes, you read that right. It’s all so gloriously goofy, contrasting sharply with the darker direction the band threatened to take with 2008’s ‘Deadache’. Lordi are back on track, expertly treading the periphery between the ballsy glam-rock of KISS and the metallic din of heavier, more modern bands.

Those aware of Lordi’s activity in recent years will also be aware of the ‘drummer situation’. Main tub-thumper Kita was fired from the band in 2010, as he’d been playing in another band without his mask on. Naughty Kita. He was then replaced with the fiendishly ugly Otus, who tragically died before actually making an official appearance on an album. Latest sticksman Mana does an admirable job here, drawing on some of the demos Otus left behind to produce possibly the most interesting drum patterns we’ve ever seen from the band. Sporadic pedal bursts at the start of ‘I’m The Best’ gives it an almost industrial feel, nodding towards ‘Psalm 69’ era Ministry in terms of influence. Final track ‘SCG6: Otus Butcher Clinic’ closes the album with posthumous samples of the deceased demon’s live drum tracks, ending things in an uneasy, almost eerie fashion. I would say that it gives the album a whole new level of depth, as it really is a poignant moment. Then again, the penultimate song ‘Sincerely With Love’ features the lyrics ‘Fuck you, asshole! Fuck you, asshole!’… How lovely. As mentioned before, the band hasn’t radically changed their outlook on music, but subtle additions such as these give the band a fresh lease on life.

If you’ve never been a fan of Lordi, then this album isn’t going to change your mind. But if you do happen to be a fan, then I can’t recommend this enough. ‘To Beast Or Not To Beast’ boasts enough levels of self-confidence, swagger and musicianship to rival previous releases, easily being the band’s strongest since ‘Get Heavy’. It won’t garner the same amounts of mainstream attention and journalistic brown-nosing that ‘The Arockalypse’ did back in 2006 (They even had their own brand of Cola at one point... Google it), but Lordi seem to be beyond caring at this point in their career. They have ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’. They have ‘Blood Red Sandman’. They have ‘Devil Is A Loser’. They have so many undeniable tunes packed into their musical arsenal; they don’t actually need any more. They could just rest on their proverbial laurels. Ultimately, ‘To Beast Or Not To Beast’ proves that Lordi aren’t just a one-trick pony (and, let’s be honest. It’s a great trick), and there’s so much more to this band than just latex monster masks, fireworks and fizzy drinks.

'To Beast Or Not To Beast' is available now. Lordi tour the UK in May.

Lordi UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat May 4th 2013 - The Limelight, Belfast
Wed May 8th 2013 - The Ritz, Manchester
Thu May 9th 2013 - Old Picture House, Edinburgh
Fri May 10th 2013 - The Institute, Birmingham
Sat May 11th 2013 - Rock City, Nottingham
Sun May 12th 2013 - London Forum, London

Click Here to Compare & Buy Lordi Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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