Lordi, The Arockalypse (The End Records 2006)

Lordi are a Finnish heavy metal band who have built up a reputation based on their outrageous theatrics. They basically start with the approach that made Kiss famous -- namely, make the music serve the spectacle and not the other way around -- and take it to its logical/ridiculous extreme. They perform, and make all public appearances, disguised as hideous monsters straight from a cheesy horror movie or a bad nightmare. Bizarrely, this formula won them first prize in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 with the song "Hard Rock Hallelujah." Containing references to "the day of rockoning" and "the arockalypse," this song would serve as the centerpiece of Lordi's 2006 CD The Arockalypse.

My favorite part of The Arockalypse is actually the introduction, a mock newscast about a monster invasion. Two news crews fail to survive long enough to finish their reports, and then the broadcast is taken over by the head monster, voiced by Twisted Sister's Dee Snider. Snider warns us "puny humans" that our dominion of earth is about to end and that we should join them or face the consequences. He finishes his speech with the announcement that "This is... the arockalypse!".

And then the music kicks in. Rather loudly, as you might expect. As odd as it may sound, Lordi actually have a philosophy. Rock has lost its way, and Lordi are here to return the loud guitars, the theatrics, and the monstrous horror elements to their proper standing in the pecking order. With that in mind, the lead-in song "Bringing Back the Balls to Rock" ably serves as their statement of purpose. The opening line "Welcome class, here we come, we kick your ass, that's lesson one" is the first of many memorably tacky lyrics that run through the album. The hits just keep on rolling from there. The singer Mr. Lordi (his real name is Tomi Putaansuu, but I doubt he uses that name often) growls out the lyrics, and makes a point never to sound too pleasant. The music is actually pretty formulaic 80's-style heavy metal, with an excess of keyboards dampening the monstrous effect they were presumably aiming for. It all comes across as an act, but with the right frame of mind the act is very amusing. Personally I found it hard to resist singing along to "We're the Kids Who Wanna Play with the Dead," but perhaps I'm just loopy. I suppose Lordi could get some accusations of misogyny for the song "Who's Your Daddy," but when you're dealing with a band who pass themselves off as hideous monsters intent on dominating the world, you can't really expect too much along the lines of chivalry. (Besides, it's the catchiest song on the album.)

Liking Lordi requires having a sense of humor. The Arockalypse is a tough album to rate, as its not inconsiderable entertainament value has little to do with the actual quality of the music. Although I suppose if you think that rock needs the balls brought back to it, the music on The Arockalypse might appeal to you on a more serious level.

overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

Lordi performing "Hard Rock Hallelujah" to represent Finland in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, they won.

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