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Hail in the name of schlock-and-roll - 25%

naverhtrad, February 15th, 2012

Time to take a break from Eastern Europe and Russia and pay a visit to nearby Finland.

Lordi have gotten a lot of press in the past few years, apparently, as a result of their ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ which for some reason won the Eurovision contest (though this certainly says something favourable about the Eurovision contest, which generally favours bland, faceless, plastic pop music, it also says something not entirely too favourable about Lordi). Honestly, I can’t see what all the hype is about; or rather, I can, and I don’t really like what I see. One other thing that really pisses me off: the Gwar comparison should never, ever be made in reference to Lordi – at least not by people who have a working brain stem. Gwar belong firmly in the world of metal, and if they ever strayed away from metal it was because in their early days they were playing crossover thrash and thus went in punkish directions with their music. Gwar also happen to be effective at writing witty lyrics, emphasis on the witty. Lordi are basically a mix of mid-tempo lowbrow power metal á la Crimson Thunder-era Hammerfall with various strains of mainstream and glam rock, inviting a comparison with Guns N’ Roses if I’m feeling particularly charitable, KISS and Foreigner most other times, or Kenny Loggins if you ask me on a really bad day. Hardly a good formula for ‘bringing back the balls to rock’, as it were – though I will note that that song particularly had some nice hat-tips to metal greats. If that’s your thing, though, you may want to just turn on some Sabaton instead. ‘Metal Machine’ on Primo Victoria (and ‘Metal ______’ on most of the rest of their discography) do pretty much exactly the same thing, and much more cleverly, to much better accompaniment.

As it is, each time I listen to Lordi I feel like I have to bleach my brain with some Maiden or Threshold out of fear that they’ve actually caused my IQ to fall several points. The chord progressions on the lead guitar are practically archetypal of all the clichés of hard rock (chug, chug, chug, throw in a major chord at the end of that riff – yeah, there you go), the keyboards overly prominent, the drums for the most part minimalistic, the lyrics mostly brainless (but what do you expect from zombies? – or so they would likely sing in one of their songs, damn them all to hell), the backing vocals arranged in annoying cheap harmonies evocative of ‘80’s album-oriented rock, with all too many ‘na na na naaahs’ and ‘ooh oohs’. Enlisting Udo to lend them metal cred on ‘They Only Come Out at Night’ was sadly ineffectual on a song which is otherwise limp. The happy, yuppie yacht-rock synthesiser intro on ‘Good to Be Bad’ is literally painful, since it manages to evoke everything that sucks about ‘80’s commercial-grade album-oriented rock. The glittery chimes at 0:29 are just the final insult to all that is supposedly metal on this album. If not for the vocals, it would not be out of place at all as a Kenny Loggins B-side or on a good-times-and-great-oldies FM station with a particularly sadistic DJ.

Sadly, it doesn’t really get better in the immediate future. ‘The Night of the Loving Dead’ and ‘Supermonstars’ aren’t as tear-your-ears-off offensive as ‘Good to Be Bad’, but in all honesty it’s still more of the same old in-one-ear-out-the-other glam-rocky filler bullshit…

Okay, yeah, I admit ‘Would You Love a Monsterman?’ is heavy, catchy, fresh-sounding and actually pretty good – with the exception of the lazy-arse bridge and the cheap transposition of the chorus at the end, it works pretty well as a power metal number. But the song following up is the return-to-mediocrity ‘Mr Killjoy’, and kill my joy they did (and the ‘honey honey honey’ stuff on ‘Evilove’ did not improve my mood in the slightest). Mission accomplished.

I can already predict some of the objections to my review. ‘But it’s just hard rock!’ I hear you cry. ‘It’s just meant to be enjoyable and simple and catchy! Lighten up; get a sense of humour!’ But that’s just the thing. I am perfectly capable of enjoying music, and I did enjoy ‘Bringing Back the Balls to Rock’ and ‘Would You Love a Monsterman?’. The overall point, though, is that schlock like this is generally not enjoyable for me. The flower-metal phenomenon got to where it was because it was encouraged by all of the people saying ‘it’s just fun; get a life!’ – but now, as more and more bands piled straight onto that bandwagon, such music has become pretty much lifeless. I’m not exactly eager for bands to start piling on a retro AOR bandwagon, either. Call me a purist, call me an elitist – hell, call me Mr Killjoy if you want to – but this really doesn’t do much for me, nor from what I can see for metal in general.

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