Lordi are back with their latest audio assault on our listening gear. Titled Screem Writers Guild, it’s their unique take on the Oscars and all things Hollywood. And in the world of Mr Lordi, leading his monster-clad quintet, we can expect a steaming, bloodstained slice of quality Metal that absolutely doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Lordi – Screem Writers Guild (Atomic Fire Records)
Release Date: 31 March 2023
Words: Mark Rotherham
The album kicks things off nicely with Dead Again Jane. It’s got a dark, atmospheric build-up, reminding you of Alice Cooper’s style, harpsichord accompanied by diabolical choral singers, and then the drums and crushing guitars kick in, and the Metal begins, with Mr Lordi’s grating vocals welcoming you to the show. The first song tells the story of Jane, an undead beauty who ends up dead again. In Lordi’s world, this is the reality, accompanied by a super-clear shredding solo from Kone as he pours molten Metal over the lyrics.
So far, all pretty standard Lordi stuff. But then there’s SCG XVIII Nosferuiz Horror Show, which isn’t actually a song, but more an eerie announcement that showcases the rest of the album, urging the audience to listen in the hours of darkness. Each song is, I suppose, kind of framed as a diabolical film title, telling that particular story.
And away we go.
Unliving Picture Show powers into our consciousness, and now we’re into the Lordi Metalfest for real. Mr Lordi’s schlock-horror lyrics drip stage blood and gore, telling us about really, really scary horror films. There’s a deceptively light touch of keyboards in this song, which sits strangely at odds with the vocals, but it still works really well.
Next up is Inhumaniod, which again has a random machinery intro before the music really lets rip once more. This type of intro becomes pretty much a theme of this album. Of course, for the Lordi fans, there is no surprise about the lyrical and musical approach here, but it’s always a pleasure to listen to such a tightly constrained set of themes that can still entertain, despite not really breaking much new ground. That is probably the true mark of Lordi’s genius. This isn’t re-inventing the Metal wheel, but that’s not why we’re here, really, is it? We just want to be entertained. Mr Lordi knows that his scarily-clad troops know that, and they absolutely deliver.
Talking of intros, Thing In The Cage starts with evil laughter and moans and then some weird, didgeridoo-type accompaniment. Slowly, the song builds up to a slick synth, and drums combo before Mr Lordi’s voice comes in, sounding perhaps smoother in this song. And you can enjoy this song on a few levels. It can simply be about the old-style freak show from times gone by, or it could be calling out abuse of individuals, which is another sign of the true genius of great music. It can mean different things to different people.
“This song was inspired by the old sideshows, or freak shows if you will,” Mr Lordi said. “Musically, with a different arrangement, this could have been a disco song, and I think it still is one in its core, just the production is in the hard rock vein. But the bass line definitely keeps the disco vibe vivid here. As for the lyric video, we’ve never shown too much of making our costumes and masks, so it’s a little peek behind the scenes. This video still doesn’t show that much, but at least it might work as a little teaser to reveal how we get to be this pretty.”
Vampyro Fang Club starts with more fairground organ intros, along with clinking chains, before a chainsaw-type riff unleashes the Metal. Lots of lyrics about the night, blood red moons, and you know where this song is going. If you like vampires, then you’ll like this one. Monstrous initiations are suddenly given a good press. Well, in a Lordi kind of way.
Okay, do you like ballads? I gotta say, most of them don’t do anything for me, but The Bride is a Lordi-type ballad of loneliness, which actually makes it a lot better than the usual money-grabbing soul-less radio play versions, if you know what I mean. “If you cross me, there’s one thing you should know, the blood will flow.” Only Lordi can sing those words and get away with it, and they do.
But don’t expect the mellowness to last. Lucyfer Prime Evil is a slice of in-your-face Heavy Metal, topped with a full-thickness dressing of Mr Lordi’s malevolent lyrics. This is blood and guts horror that Lordi and no one else can deliver, and they’ve been delivering it in an excellent fashion for years. Metal by numbers? It’s a bit more than that when the numbers align so closely.
“This is the first chance for the fans to hear our new guitar player Kone in action on a record,” Mr Lordi said. “He is doing a pretty lengthy guitar solo on the track, with Hella backing him up by keyboard harmonies here and there. It’s also the very first time in Lordi’s history that you can actually hear the whole band sing backing vocals on this album.
“Story-wise, Lucyfer Prime Evil gives quite a good example of the themes and lyrical content that await you on the record: it’s a horror story… like an eerie horror movie theme song. Although this song isn’t really based on any particular horror movie, the conceptual theme of what to expect from the whole album should come across pretty clear.”
You want curve balls? Well, listen to Scarecrow. It starts with a reverb guitar but then is quickly followed by a rapid-fire, catchy riff overlaid with delicate synths. There’s no denying the slick, accomplished musicianship of Lordi. Scarecrows can so easily shift over into the darker, scarier side of the human imagination, so it’s probably no surprise that the topic made its way onto a Lordi album.
One of my favourite song titles this time around is Lycantropical Island, and another strange topic combo: werewolves on a tropical island. Well, the werewolves, I suppose, are expected, but Mr Lordi applies his usual tongue-in-cheek play on words to situate them on a tropical island, and then he sings his story from the perspective of the furry hairy ones, like a kind of escape and retreat for the werewolves who, according to Mr Lordi, at least, have been persecuted through time.
While their lyrics are pretty much constant, it’s fair to say that Lordi have dabbled with many different types and styles of Metal over the years, and this album is squarely in the radio-friendly, synth Metal delivery. No more so than In The Castle Of Dracoolve, with its nice, accessible synth-riff that entices you in with an evil smile on speed dial. The un-dead occupy these lyrics and send a Metal chill up and down your spine.
Which then brings us to The SCG Awards and the film-type homage that this album is based on. Nosferuiz returns to announce the night’s winners. It’s chock-full of diabolical nominations, poking a big bucket of fun at the Oscars, and one incident in particular.
Normal service resumes with Heavengeance. Well, normal for Lordi, anyway, but hey, that’s the ride we signed up for, right? This song gives us a full-on horror film organ solo. Cliched? You bet. It’s Lordi clichés all the way, and we expect nothing less, but if you’ve come this far, you’ve gained a lot more.
The album bows out with End Credits, an introspective song sung by what you imagine is Mr Lordi being driven around while he’s in a hearse, in the coffin. Now, I might have got that wrong, but given the song’s title, the fact that this is the last song on the album, and that it’s a Lordi album, maybe I haven’t. Lots of life-flashing-before-your-eyes type imagery on this one, and it’s a suitable finale.
This, then, is an album that definitely follows a formula, and it’s a formula that Lordi and their fans are very familiar with. Is it a bit samey? Well, yes, it is.
But, and this is the thing, we know that this is Lordi’s thing, and we love them for it. Sure, they can do eclectic. I mean, just listen to all seven of the Lordiversity albums. No one has ever accused Lordi of not following their own path, and here, on this album, they do it again, in their way, telling us how they would interpret the Hollywood dream.
They’ve absolutely nailed the message they want to put across, and they do it in a very entertaining way.
To pre-order Screem Writers Guild, visit https://lordi.afr.link/thingPR.
- Dead Again Jayne
- SCG XVIII Nosferuiz Horror Show
- Unliving Picture Show
- Thing in the Cage
- Vampyro Fang Club
- The Bride
- Lucyfer Prime Evil
- Lycantropical Island
- In the Castle of Dracoolove
- The SCG Awards
- End Credits
Mr Lordi – Vocals
Kone – Guitar
Hiisi – Bass
Hella – Keyboards
Mana – Drums