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The Arockalpse is an album that instantly became a very firm favourite listen for me. Lordi are far more than a novelty act that won the Eurovision Song Contest and divided Finland into the bargain. Musically they are outstanding and massively under rated.
If you like your rock hard and heavy this won't disappoint but the band also show that they can deliver beutiful ballads without departing too far from their monster obsession."It snows in Hell" being a classic example of their ability to surprise the listener with a subtly that belies Lordis versaltility.
With the exception of the opening monologue, which quickly becomes tiresome on repeated listening, Lordi deliver 15 tracks which I instantly liked, although some of these are already present on the earlier "get Heavy" album.
This album converted me to an out and out admirer of Lordis music, if not perhaps their OTT outfits. At least the band dont appear to take themselves too seriously.
Unlike many hard rock albums, the tracks are varied in style and pace to provide an energising listen. "who's your daddy" is forever burned into my memory and in spite of having purchased all of Lordis albums subsequently this is in my opinion the best of the bunch.
If your curious about Lordi, maybe have heard the Eurovision anthem "Hard rock Hallelujah" (included on this album) and want to get a feel for Lordi, then this is definitely the album to try first. If you can, get the special edition with the DVD included,. Not only does that include a good length concert but also 3 Videos (including the rather suspect version of the video for "would you love a monsterman") and the series of pre Eurovision shorts shown on Finnish TV which provide an interesting insight into the band.
Its hard to compare Lordi with other acts although the influence of Kiss does show through and theres a distinctly American tinge to some tracks. Even so, Lordi are unique and massively under appreciated.
The Eurovision Song Contest is known for many things. It was how Abba were unleashed onto an unsuspecting world, for one thing, although that could be good or bad news, depending on your views. Generally speaking, however, Eurovision has done more for the career of Terry Wogan than for the musical career of any of the winners who have, traditionally, had a minor chart hit with their winning song and disappeared, certainly in recent years.
There have been a number of traditions in Eurovision; Norway getting no points; Terry Wogan making caustic comments about everything from the hosts outfits to the quality, or otherwise, of the acts; and the Irish being very good at winning, even when they have tried to lose. Musically, Eurovision has more of a tradition for dreadful up tempo Euro-pop songs or sickly pop ballads. Until 2006, when the winners were a Finnish rock group dressed in masks.
After two studio albums which no-one outside Finland had ever heard of, Lordi released the compilation album The Monster Show all over Europe to get their name known, before following that up with their third studio album, The Arockalypse. This is the album designed to cash in on their Eurovision victory, containing as it does the winning song, Hard Rock Hallelujah
The album opens with Lordis standard skit on the SCG theme, with SCG 3 Special Report, being the one this time around. Notable for featuring Twisted Sisters Dee Snider as the news anchor, its set up like a news flash about a monster invasion. At nearly 4 minutes, its a little too lengthy and outstays its welcome, especially for someone like me who prefers an album to contain music and not much else and, because of the format, it does feel like it would work better visually rather than as a sound bite.
Once the music does get started, however, Bringing Back the Balls to Rock starts it with a bang. Its an up-tempo driving rock track, with the chorus making it sound like a Twisted Sister or a Kiss song, with that same stadium rock style punch the air chorus. The vocals and music over the verses dont fit quite as well into that theme, being a lot heavier, but the combination works very well and its a decent proper opening track.
The guitar intro to The Deadite Girls Gone Wild reminds me of an old Def Leppard Pyromania era track, although the vocals sound a lot more like Alice Cooper when they start in. The track does turn into quite a driving rock song and it sounds more like Alice Cooper or WASP than anything else. Its not a bad song, but not quite as impressive as the previous one.
Theres a definite stadium rock influence on The Kids Who Wanna Play With the Dead, with the standard whoa-oh backing vocals, although again the lead vocals dont fit into this genre quite so well. Its still a decent rock track, evoking Alice Coopers lighter moments, around his 1980s Trash album.
Many of the tracks so far have had titles that are really little more than rock clichés and It Snows in Hell is another. As far as the sound goes, however, this couldnt be any more different. Its a down tempo rock ballad, with a piano backing that reminds me of Alice Coopers Might As Well be on Mars at some points. The gruff vocals add to this feel, although the backing vocals have the kind of harmonies you would usually expect to find on a Def Leppard track. As far as stadium rock ballads go, though, this is a pretty decent example of the art, even if it does provide nothing new.
Whos Your Daddy? starts off sounding like a Metallica track, which isnt a bad thing at all. Its got less of the stadium rock feel of some of the earlier tracks, although that does sneak back in during the chorus and parts towards the end reclaim Alice Cooper as an influence. This is certainly the most heavy metal influenced track so far and whilst it means the vocals feel less out of place, its not quite as good as what has gone before.
Next up is the track Lordi are, so far, best known for, the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest winning Hard Rock Hallelujah. Its certainly the most obvious choice for a competition of the nature of Eurovision, being the most generally accessible, with a slightly lighter rock feel. The first time I heard it, parts reminded me of Alice Coopers Poison and that feeling remains, as it does evoke memories of Coopers lighter 1980s rock sound.
They Only Come Out at Night is a little darker in tone, although not as much so as Whos Your Daddy? Its got the high pitched vocals that you could associate with the likes of WASP, although the backing vocals have more of a pop-rock edge. This isnt a classic stadium rock anthem by any means, but its not a bad track for all that.
The intro to The Chainsaw Buffet again has quite a clean Def Leppard style guitar sound, although its a lot heavier than fans of that band would be used to. Once more, the vocals lead the track more into Alice Cooper territory with Feed My Frankenstein being the clearest influence here, which makes this a decent enough rock track, if nothing new and a little heavier in tone than the likes of Hard Rock Hallelujah.
The synthesiser intro to Good To Be Bad could easily be mistaken for Van Halen and this is certainly one of the more pop-rock influenced tracks on the album. Once again, the vocals keep it from sinking too far into a glam rock sound, but musically and during the chorus this is a stadium rock tune, with a definite Van Halen and, possibly, Kiss influence.
Its back to the rock clichés for the title to The Night of the Loving Dead. Again, its one of Lordis lighter moments and even the vocals dont seem quite as gruff as before. The influences are much the same as before, with this sounding like a WASP tune or one of Alice Coopers 1980s songs.
The album ends with the curiously titled Supermonstars (The Anthem of the Phantom). The moaning style intro reminds me of something I heard years ago, possibly from Skid Row. Its another driving rock track, but again more at the heavier end of the rock-pop spectrum. Its not a bad song, but actually quite a disappointing end to the album, as its one of the weaker tracks.
Lordi have had a couple of changes to the line up since The Monster Show and it does show a little with a softening of their sound, with The Arockalypse having more of a rock-pop feel than their previous effort. As before, however, there isnt a great deal new about their sound, with obvious 1980s rock influences, especially from Alice Cooper, to the fore once more. That said, also as before, what you get here is 12 tracks and 45 minutes worth of pretty decent, if standard, stadium rock.
This album isnt quite as impressive as The Monster Show, as that album was a combination of two earlier albums and so missed a lot of the weaker tracks which remain here. But when the band have their good moments, such as on Hard Rock Hallelujah and Bringing Back the Balls to Rock, theyre as good as anyone in the genre and It Snows In Hell is one of the better rock ballads Ive heard in a while and certainly the best that Lordi have produced.
Prices for the album arent exactly cheap, with the Amazon Marketplace having a lowest price of £5.99, although copies have been seen for less on eBay. Personally, if youre a fan of the genre, but not necessarily of Lordi, I would tend to recommend the slightly superior The Monster Show over this album. If, however, youve already become a fan of the band or already have that album, this is definitely worth picking up.
If youve only heard of Lordi thanks to Eurovision and because of Hard Rock Hallelujah, this isnt a bad album to have. That is the most accessible track for non-rock fans, but there are some other softer rock moments that may also appeal. If this is your reason for seeking out a Lordi purchase, you may be more interested in the new extended version of this album, with three extra tracks and some Eurovision related viewing material and which has been seen on eBay from £5.00. For those who are simply in it for some decent rock music, the basic album will suffice and will act as a decent way to pass the time until the next Alice Cooper release.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 SCG3 Special Report
2 Bringing Back The Balls To Rock
3 Deadite Girls Gone Wild
4 Kids Who Wanna Play With The Dead
5 It Snows In Hell
6 Who's Your Daddy
7 Hard Rock Hallelujah
8 They Only Come Out At Night
9 Chainsaw Buffet
10 Good To Be Bad
11 Night Of The Loving Dead
12 Supermonstars (The Anthem Of The Phantoms)