Originally published on Boom Bang a Blog, Nov 2009.
Eurovision fans breathed a sigh of relief as Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale romped to victory in Russia this year. Not because we had all prophesised back in March that Rybak was going to win (or was that just me?), but because after a short reign of just three years, Lordi were no longer the highest scoring Eurovision song of all time.
Many of them let out the tension they never knew they had, and thanks to that release an almost unspoken agreement has arisen…. to never ever mention the Finnish hard rock heavy metal band at Eurovision every again.
Lordi monstered over the 2006 contest before they even won the Finnish National Final. From a country that had consistently sent folk songs and traditional music that never troubling the upper reaches of the scoring table, the latex mask, theatrical performance and unrestrained power chord charged energy that Lordi brought to the stage shocked traditional Eurovision fans back into their twirly Bucks Fizz skirts.
Meanwhile the Finnish metal fans had a mission. A secret mission. To vote harder, faster and stronger than everyone else in the Nordic country and get their music on stage in Greece.
And then their mission was to get them out of the semi-finals.
And then their mission was to make sure Lordi won.
At the time, their current album was "The Arockalypse" and is very much hard Rock in the viewing of Kiss, Queen and Alice Cooper. It’s still a great album, and even though there are more recent releases with even more theatrics, this was the disc that showed Lordi were more than a one trick pony in rubber.
One of the advantages of the album is that it forces you to listen to the music, rather than the look of the band – joke bands fall apart at this test, but not Lordi’s music – the theatrics are still there in the lyrics and presentation, it’s the lifeblood of the band, but you also have a slice of rock that millions of upcoming bands struggle to capture.
Admittedly the first track on the Album makes you think you’ve made the wrong choice in buying the album – it’s a four minute long "news report" of a monster invasion with anchor, on the spot reporter, helicopter eye in the sky, and then you realise the invasion is actually Lordi themselves doing a vocal Overture of the rest of the album…
…and then it’s foot on the amplifier and down to some old fashioned guitar rock and the true opener, "The Deadite Girls Gone Wild" with staccato guitars, operatic power behind the lyrics and a simple remit to get you switched on to the beat of the music.
A slightly lighter track (with "single" written over it) is "The Kids Who Want To Play With The Dead", one of the more accessible tracks on the album for those new to Lordi. It slows down (that’s slow in rock terms) with "It Snows in Hell" who’s playful title carries over into the song. I think this is their attempt at a love song:
Hell – We’re done masquerading
This is the day foretold till death do us part
Now it snows in hell – No you won’t be waiting
I’ve gone away but I’ve got you in my heart
All frozen and scarred
And who’s that guesting on guitar? Why it’s Bruce Kulick formerly of Kiss. Still think Lordi isn’t a serious band?
"Who’s Your Daddy" brings a nice singalong chorus which blends into the more frentic "They Only Come Out At Night" before one of the lynchpin tracks on the album in "Chainsaw Buffet."
This is where Lordi come into their own, with a huge mix of musical instruments (and a sampled chainsaw, naturally), lyrics that showcase the range of lead singer Mr Lordi, an infectious hook and another memorable chorus. Oh and just a hint of Judas Priest sneaking in at the end.
As the rest of the album shows, Lordi aren’t subtle or hugely inventive. This is a well worn track which many bands have followed, but it takes skill to navigate it well and they are serious about their music. As well as Kulick’s guest appearance they were also joined by Udo Dirkschneider (Accept), J J French and Dee Snider (both of Twisted Sister). This is a band that are comfortable in their on skin to let go in the only way that a rock band can.
They are accomplished musicians, the lyrics all hang together to tell a story through each song, and it’s obvious they’re having a huge amount of fun! The whole album flows together, switching pace around to create ebbs and flows in the excitement.
If you thought Lordi was a one-hit wonder and an aberration at Eurovision, then think again. There’s a reason that rock fans flooded behind them in 2006; they understood (better than others) just how much of Eurovision is about a memorable performance and not just the song; but most of it’s a shame that so many do their best to ignore one of Finland’s greatest exports.
Lordi’s The Arockalypse is available to buy on Amazon.