Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Genre: Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal
Mr Lordi – Vocals
Amen – Guitars
Ox – Bass
Hella – Keyboards
Mana – Drums
1. We’re Not Bad For The Kids (We’re Worse)
2. I Luv Ugly
3. The Riff
4. Something Wicked This Way Comes
5. I’m The Best
7. Happy New Fear
8. Schizo Doll
9. Candy For The Cannibal
10. Sincerely With Love
11. SCG6: Otus’ Butcher Clinic
There are some bands who use a bit of makeup so they look silly in promotional artwork, but few would actually go through all the work to disguise themselves at all times when doing something music related, and that’s where Lordi come in. Clearly inspired by GWAR (who I’ve never heard before but have seen many references to, especially in this case), this group of crazy Finns not only force themselves to be in costume when doing any publicity work, concerts, music videos, interviews, etc., they also do everything they can to keep their true identities hidden from the fans and media, so whenever they refer to themselves they use character names as part of their band.
Unlike with most glam bands, for example, I actually find their look quite appealing, as instead of just using a simple makeup job to make their farces look stupid, they use it to transform themselves into various monster types, and that’s where the GWAR comparison seems to come from. Musically they play some very cheesy 80’s style hard rock mixed with heavy metal, and while it’s not terribly original, it can certainly be a lot of fun. Many fans were disappointed with their last album, “Babez For Breakfast”, but while I did notice a slight change in direction from their first four albums, I still thought it was very good and probably their most consistently entertaining album to date. With their sixth full length album “To Beast Or Not To Beast” it seems they have gone back to their older sound, and while it’s definitely more front-loaded than anything since their second album “The Monsterican Dream”, it’s still a very fun and enjoyable album for the most part.
On their previous album they used a lot more AOR style keyboards than usual, while the guitars seemed to be buried in the background more often than not. This time they have changed that, as the keyboards mostly sound more theatrical, as they did on their earlier albums, while the guitars have definitely taken center stage once again, resulting in their heaviest album since at least “The Arockalypse”, but possibly their heaviest yet. As usual, the music is very simple and never complex or technically impressive, but it’s often very fun and catchy, with some hilariously cheesy lyrics that often work great as long as you have the right sense of humor, which I clearly do. In many ways they feel like a parody not only of their genre, but also of some mainstream reactions to it, and that shows a lot on this album in particular. Mr Lordi has never been the best singer technically, but his very gravely voice is still as over the top in an awesome way as it has ever been, and he still carries the songs very well.
For anyone familiar with “Babez For Breakfast” and its closing voiceover, if you listen closely enough right at the start of “We’re Not Bad For The Kids (We’re Worse)” you’ll hear a voiceover which seems to be following up on that one, and from there we get the heaviest song right at the start, with some very sinister and explosive guitar leads paving the way for what turns out to be one of their fastest, most satisfying album openers yet, with their typically stupid but fun lyrics. Despite the rather silly name, “I Luv Ugly” is another highlight, and a good example of their more hard rock style songs, with a slower pace to it, though it’s still as delightfully fun and silly as always. My personal favorite song is also the first one here to be released as a single, and that is “The Riff”. Oddly named, perhaps, because as awesome as the song is, it’s actually the most keyboard driven song here, and the main riff isn’t one of the things that makes it special. The highlight of the song is definitely the lyrics, which are presented as a story where we learn that, among other things, Death can play one mean riff but his songwriting needs some work, while the devil has lost his mind listening to hip-hop. Yep, it once again requires a specific sense of humor, but here I think it’s done better than usual, and the chorus is insanely awesome, as is the instrumental section towards the end.
They slow things down with “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, which is the closest thing this album has to a ballad, though it still has a pretty cool main riff. It doesn’t take long for the band to pick up the pace again as “I’m The Best” is probably the fastest song on the album, and is another one of my favorites. After that, the album starts to go downhill a bit. The trio of “Horrifiction” (which opens with a messed up kid’s voice repeatedly saying “I’m gonna kill you, I’m gonna kill you”), “Happy New Fear” and “Schizo Doll” (which also opens with a messed up voice over, this time meant to represent an evil doll), are all good songs, but nothing really special. Things really fall apart with “Candy For The Cannibal”, which has a fun and creepy keyboard intro, and a pretty good main riff, but the chorus is where it all comes undone. See, I always hate when bands try and add any annoying vocal tricks, and on this song that’s all you get in the entire chorus, as Mr Lordi’s voice keeps cracking like a broken record as he stutters constantly while singing the lyrics, and it’s simply painful for me to listen to. A real shame too, because otherwise the song could have been really good.
But the absolute worst song here is “Sincerely With Love”, where the majority of the chorus is repeating swear words and the title, and while I’ve never been opposed to using swear words on an album if it’s done effectively, in this case it’s both excessive and just plain stupid, so it gets really annoying for me to listen to the song. And again, everything else about the song is just fine, and I even think the lyrics in the verses get their point across so much better than the chorus does, so it’s just really frustrating. The closing track “SCG6: Otus’ Butcher Clinic” is an oddity in multiple ways: First of all, the first 5 SCG (Scarctic Circle Gathering) tracks were all the intro to their respective albums, where this one is the outro. Even more puzzling is the track itself: It starts out interesting enough with some cool keyboard sounds and various different sound effects, but then a crazy voice comes in, and from there it turns into a drum solo with a live crowd reaction, and while the drumming is very good, the whole thing feels like a weird stunt that certainly wouldn’t make my list of ways to make a great closing track. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just think it’s really strange.
Despite a disappointing turn towards the end, “To Beast Or Not To Beast” is still an entertaining album, which is sure to please existingLordi fans, as well as those who enjoy cheesy 80’s style hard rock and heavy metal and don’t mind either the look of the band or their approach to lyrics. The first half is among their best work yet, while last three tracks may please some people, just not me.
Written by Travis