Okay, this is a seven-album, yes, seven-album box set by Finnish monster rockers, Lordi. Seven albums? Where did they come from? And didn’t they release an album less than two years ago?
Lordi – Lordiversity (AFM Records)
Release Date: 26 November 2021
Words: Mark Rotherham
The short story, and with 78 songs to review, it will need to be, is this. Their previous album, Killection, was a concept album based on the premise that Lordi had actually been around since the seventies. Well, Lordiversity gives you that entire back catalogue of fictional historical songs, all 78 of them, all supposedly written and released between 1978 and 1995.
Sheesh, and I thought Spinal Tap was confusing!
So, according to the press release, these albums were all recorded using equipment and technology at the time to give them an authentic feel. And that’s what I call attention to detail. The first album, Skelectric Dinosaur, fictional release date 1975, and a diabolical reminder of the toys that clogged up every living room floor every weekend back then, kicks off with the decades-old ubiquitous Hammond sound. But it doesn’t stop there. Distorted guitar gives way to overdrive, super-long drum licks, lots of cymbal crash, and a much more blurry, slightly slower, mellower sound.
The Metal’s been deconstructed and taken back in time. It’s an altogether well, groovier sound. The lyrics, though, are pretty much Lordi unchanged, just as we know them and love them. I wonder what they’d have looked like back then.
On to the next album, Superflytrap, fictional release date 1979, which is just oozing with funky bass disco baby, but it’s also dripping with Lordi blood and gore, as you would expect. Mr Lordi’s voice remains the same throaty growl, and he sings stuff like you’d never ever hear at a Saturday Night Fever boogie-fest. Songs like Macho Freak and Spooky Jive perfectly sum up Lordi’s tongue firmly in cheek approach.
Believe Me is some weird combination of hand-clapping disco and Heavy Metal and even includes “freak out” in the lyrics. But the consistent common denominator is the lyrics, and the monster, horror film theme that characterises Lordi. Maybe they’ll wear flared and platform shoes over their usual monster costumes when they next play live.
And only Lordi could come up with a song title like Zombimbo, and get away with it. The album signs out with Cider Ghost Choir, a piano-led ballad with a phenomenal guitar solo, that could have been written and sung by Alice Cooper. I know that Lordi sees Kiss as their natural influence, but for me, they’ve got the Coop running right through them, and even though I’m not eighteen anymore, I’m middle-aged, and I still like it.
The Masterbeast From the Moon, with fictional release date 1981, is a softer, more keyboard orientated offering, with a definite prog-rock feel, although with titles like Moonbeast and Church of Succubus, you know it’ll be with a Lordi slant, or should that be slice, on things. Most bands just go off and do solo albums if they want to do something with a different musical direction, but not Lordi. Trust them to do something different.
Lordi always like to sing songs about animals, beasts and monsters, and it’s done on The Masterbeast From the Moon with a definite sci-fi feel, which of course, is another favourite band theme. This is definitely the most sedate of their albums so far in the collection: keyboards, pianos and acoustic guitars, and lots of slow-tempo navel-gazing tunes, a bit like Yes singing about their nightmares, assuming they had any.
In 1984, according to the Killection story, Lordi gave us Abusement Park, a full-throttle Heavy Metal fest and the first of the collection that’s closest to their current style. It starts with the usual short intro setting the theme of the album. The deep voice chorusing remind me a little of Accept, and the shred-meister, iddly-widdly solos could come from any one of the multitude of guitar heroes from that fabulous metallic decade.
This album has a much harsher edge than the one before it, a tidal wave of riffs smashing against a solid wall of drumming. And while the horror-show lyrics and imagery are utterly interchangeable, Lordi have absolutely nailed the style on every one of these albums. And that on its own, never mind anything else, is immensely impressive.
They’ve included a ballad, Carousel, just like one of the many, many softer songs that cropped up right through the eighties like a gently rounded rock in a storm-swept ocean. But even then, the title is in keeping with the album name. How clever is that? And who says Metal’s not deep?
Stand out track for me is Pinball Machine, with an absolute hook-line-sinker riff and chorus that is a total tribute to Accept. Nasty, Wild and Naughty has Motely Crue, Ratt and Poison written all over it, American party Metal with a dash of Finnish shock horror Metal thrown in. You couldn’t in your most insane dreams have made this up. Abusement Park ends with Blah Blah Blah (topical or what), but actually sounds like a bloodstained Lordi Christmas song.
Will these curve balls never stop? Not yet. A trip through musical, and more specifically rock/Hetal history, would not be complete without a bit of AOR, and that’s what we get with Humanimals, fictional release date 1989. This offering’s minute-long opener is a homage, if that’s the right word, to the PMRC and evangelist types who thought Metal was in league with the devil. Yeah, right.
There are the usual Lordi suspects in the song titles and lyrics, Be My Maniac, and Girls in a Suitcase, but this is middle of the road, radio-friendly pop-rock that Bon Jovi, Journey and Styx would have sold their souls for. Humanimals is chock full of layered keyboards, synth guitars and big, overblown production. Suddenly I’m transformed back to early adulthood, big, big hair and songs that tease you with oh so very nearly answering all of the mysteries of life and love, then leaving you to figure out the last bit all by yourself.
But what’s very, very clever about these albums is that Lordi take the music from these eras but do not try to recreate the lyrical message. They still sing the same stuff, but it sounds very different each time, which seems like such a simple thing to do, but I bet it wasn’t.
The next album, Abracadaver, with its fictional release date of 1991, starts with a haunting spaghetti western type intro and then launches into thraaaaaaaaash! Mr Lordi rips into a high pitch scream that Rob Halford would have been proud of while turbo-speed drumming and riffs complete the picture.
It took six albums and a journey through musical time, but the subject matter of Lordi’s songs and the music have found a more natural synergy as we get closer to their more officially recognised emergence into the world. The song titles, such as Acid Bleeding Eyes, and Evil, match the musical style, and Mr Lordi’s vocal range really does the whole thing, from Judas Priest high scream to Arch Enemy low growl. Raging At Tomorrow is my personal favourite from this thrash-tastic offering with an utterly addictive riff that flattens your senses like a runaway steamroller and a solo that could have turned up on Metallica’s black album.
And so we’re on to Spooky Sextravaganza Spectacular, with its fictional release date of 1995. There’s the ubiquitous short and slightly weird intro that kind of sets the scene for the album, but the one for this album is hilarious. Alice Cooper meets Quentin Tarantino is the only way to describe it. Then it’s back to the music, and this album has voice-box vocals and a more mainstream Metal sound that then dovetails into what we would more easily recognise from Lordi.
It’s a heady mix of industrial, brutal riffs and keyboards. A difficult combination? Not for Lordi, and not for a band that by this stage of the box set have performed one historical musical navigation after another and still stayed unerringly afloat.
And who else but Lordi can come up with a song title like Lizzard Of Oz? It’s a humorous reference to Metal royalty while at the same time keeping the focus firmly on them as the song buzz-saws along with a catchy chorus line that will have you singing it all day. And the next song, Killusion, is almost poppy, with its bubble-gum keyboard riff.
This entire offering is dazzling musical variety, all bandaged together by Lordi’s bloodstained, visceral lyrics. But it’s the short, harsh, and oh so addictive guitar lines, like the ones you hear on Goliath, that drag you in and keep you there until you suffer your inevitable Lordi fate.
Even though I’m speaking as a fan, I have to say that sometimes, on its own, Lordi’s music can sound a bit, well, samey. But that’s the thing, Lordi are never about just the sound. It’s the look, the image, the absolute individuality, and the lyrics that you will never hear from any other band.
Lordiversity simply takes that individuality, that uniqueness, and carries it step further. Well, not simply, but you know what I mean.
If ever there is a musical collection that perfectly sums up a band’s massively apparent but completely unacknowledged genius, this is it.
What Lordi have done is taken Heavy Metal, their very own brand of Heavy Metal, and run their songs through seven diverse historical musical style filters.
Could anyone else have done that as completely as this? I doubt it. Maybe the odd song here and there, but a whole album of re-styled Metal, and then seven times over? And all in one year?
Truly Lordi are the undisputed tainted visionaries of Heavy Metal, and long may we continue to hear their message.
Lordiversity by name, Lordiversity by nature.