Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Monsterican Dream

Finnish shock rockers Lordi are the ultimate Halloween party band. Every song - whether a catchy, anthemic rock song or piano-driven power ballad - celebrates all things ghoulish and macabre, and the members are decked into monster movie makeup that would make Kiss and Gwar blush in shame. You listen to them, and you just want to get your freak on.

Lordi is a deliberate throwback band, the kind of act that would have been at home in the eighties playing alongside the likes of Alice Cooper or Twisted Sister. They play unabashed, melodic hard rock and pair it up with a larger-than-life and morbid theatricality.

Take 2004's The Monsterican Dream. The album opens with a track called "Theatrical Trailer," and it plays like a radio spot for an upcoming horror movie. As background music quickly builds and swells, a narrator warns us the band is back, the ones so vicious, evil, and deadly. He lists them by name - Kita, Enary, Kalma, Amen, and Lordi - these "raging hounds" are back to "bring it on." That leads appropriately into the first proper song, "Bring It On (The Raging Hounds Returns)."

"The rancorous return from their graves
Won't you bring it on, bring it on big time
Bring it on, bring it on down
Bring it on
Behold your town will burn
As the raging hounds return"

The song is fitting. Lordi plays like a bunch of vicious, rabid dogs, monstrous beasts who see what they want and attack it with no mercy. We are coming, and you should be afraid; that is the confidence of Lordi. This driving style does not let up on such songs as "Blood Red Sandman," about a serial killer (possibly Jack the Ripper) returning after the people prayed he'd never come back; "My Heaven is Your Hell," a song which requires no further elaboration of its meaning; and "Shotgun Divorce," about a woman who is final in her decision to end her marriage.

Lordi celebrate wickedness and all the other taboos normal people find repellent. The band can't resist a good, below-the-belt innuendo, and such odes to sex include "Pet the Destroyer," "Wake the Snake," and "Fire in the Hole." It may be juvenile, but it's funny.

"Pet the destroyer
My beast Le royal
Pet my destroyer
Sweet killing machine
Oh won't you please meet the beast?"

Even the ballads, while giving some breathing room between the straight-ahead rockers, are warped and spooky. "Magistre Nocte" is a haunting, atmospheric piano piece, and "The Children of the Night" offers no tenderness or love; this is a song about murdering children and hiding their skulls under the floor, but still their voices cry out.

"In the dead of night, I hear them sigh, The Children of the night are calling
I hear a cry, they still defy, endlessly I fell like falling on the road
My children of the night"

Yes, Lordi glorifies all things bad taste, but they do it in a way that rocks. The songs are catchy and driving, the production is clean and polished, and the band crosses the line from repulsive to funny. It's so outrageous, it's impossible to not find it infectious. You'll pump your fist, bang your head, and feel the beast within.

Standout Songs
Blood Red Sandman - This song about the Jack the Ripper packs a mean crunch and a haunting, child-like chorus.
Pet the Destroyer -  I can't believe it took me as many listens as it did to realize this pumped-up, pulsing, throbbing piece was about Mr. Lordi's dick.

Favorite Moment
In the final song, Amen hits an absolutely killer guitar solo that is most triumphant. It soars.

Album Cover
A portrait of the band members in closeup with Mr. Lordi's visage being the largest and dead trees in the night behind them. Ghoulish, in-your-face, dark, like the band will bite you if you pick up the album.

Track Order
1) Theatrical Trailer
2) Bring It On (The Raging Hounds Return)
3) Blood Red Sandman
4) My Heaven is Your Hell
5) Pet the Destroyer
6) The Children of the Night
7) Wake the Snake
8) Shotgun Divorce
9) Forsaken Fashion Dolls
10) Haunted Town
11) Fire in the Hole
12) Magistra Nocte
13) Kalmageddon

Mr. Lordi - Vocals
Amen - Guitar
Enary - Keyboard
Kita - Drums
Kalma - Bass

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