HARD ROCK HALLELUJAH: THE RISE OF FINNISH METAL GODS LORDI

This band is the epitome of Horror and Metal. They are Finnish legends LORDI!! This band of larger than life characters dressed from head to toe in leather and latex, not only perform songs influenced by the horror and monster movies of the 70’s and 80’s but pretty much live and breathe the genre entirely.

The brainchild of Tomi Petteri Putaansuu, an incredibly talented graphic designer, special effects make up artist, musician and songwriter, he not only created his persona, Mr.Lordi-the Biomechanic Man, but envisaged an entire band of monsters complete with background stories and costumes to bring to life his dream.  Now you may roll your eyes when you hear their name, their style of slightly cheesy, uninhibited good ol’ fashioned 80’s style Shock Rock may not be to your liking but you cannot deny how serious they are about horror movies. Their career has spanned two decades, they have recorded eight studio albums and they have been involved in two movies and a documentary. There have been many triumphs and tragedies along the way, we all remember them winning the Eurovision song contest in 2006 with the brilliant “Hard Rock Hallelujah” but there is so much more to this band then that. They are by no means a one hit wonder they are true SuperMonstars and here is an insight into their career.

A life long heavy Metal fan, Tomi started Lordi as a solo project in 1992 when he was 18. He idolised Kiss and became chairman of Kiss Army Finland’s fan club. It was through his love of Kiss and his obsession with horror and monster movies that he met Amen-The Mummified Pharaoh (Jussi Sydanmaa) on Guitar, G Stealer-The Alien Man Beast (Sami Keinanen) on Bass and Enary-The Valkyrie (Erna Inari Kaarina Siikavirta) on Keyboards and started the first band incarnation of Lordi. Their first album Bend Over & Pray The Lord, recorded in 1999 went unreleased due to their label going bankrupt; it featured a midi drum track as they were without a Drummer at the time. The band has encountered many a line up change over the years with only Mr. Lordi and Amen being constants. The first to go was G Stealer who was replaced by Magnum-The Cyborg (Sami Wolking) on Bass but they did get a Drummer. Kita (Sampsa Astala) who loved G Stealers Alien Man Beast theme so much he got Mr. Lordi to design him a new take on the character. At least now they were complete and could really start to get serious. In 2002 they signed to Bertelsmann Music Group (Or BMG) and released their first genre defining single “Would You Love a Monsterman” complete with full on classic horror monster video. With their familiar feeling of balls out uncomplicated, heavy blended Rock N Roll they keep their backline solid with strong, unfussy guitar and electro industrial style keyboard, with Mr. Lordi’s penchant for the odd pun both lyrically and in the song and album titles this is their recipe for success.  Their songs are a lot of fun but they leave room for the odd love song and positive songs about living your life against adversity, bullying and just being yourself. Their albums follow a similar pattern of quite a few heavy but fun numbers mostly about monsters, horror icons and cannibalism with a few slower more ballad type songs thrown in.

Get Heavy was released in Nov 2002 and along with “Would You Love a Monsterman” there are some classic song titles including “Biomechanic Man” a song based on Mr. Lordis character. “ Rock The Hell Outta You” and “Monster, Monster”. The other single from this being “The Devil Is A Loser” with the chorus line “ The Devil is a loser and he’s my bitch”.  Get Heavy went platinum in 2003 and went multi platinum in 2006. The success was short lived for some and Bass player Magnum left the band and was replaced by Kalma-The Motor biker Zombie (Niko Hurme also known as Nick Gore).

Their second album called The Monsterican Dream  was released in 2004, to co-inside with the release all band members had their costumes revamped which became something they have done on every release since. This is my personal favourite album of theirs as it contains a brilliant array of themes throughout, containing some very memorable and catchy, fun songs such as “Blood Red Sandman”, “Bring It On (The Raging Hounds Return)” and “Fire In The Hole”. It also has a wonderful piano driven instrumental “Magistra Nocte” (hats off to Enary for this one) leading into the final track which is an ode to their Bassist entitled “Kalmageddon”. The special edition of The Monsterican Dream features the bands first dabble into the film industry with their short film THE KIN (review here).

An album called The Monster Show was also in the pipeline at the same time which was basically devised to showcase Lordi in the US. Released by Sanctuary Records it’s a compilation of the best tracks from Get Heavy and The Monsterican Dream. It was published in 2005 during their European “Monstour” as they called it.

The tour and subsequent recording of their third album took its toll on the band and they said farewell to Kalma and Enary. They were replaced by Ox-The Hellbull (Samer el Nahhal) on Bass and Awa- The Ghost Witch (Leena Maria Peisa) on Keyboard. 2006-2008 was probably the crowning moment of their career to date.

The Arockalypse was released at the start of May 2006 and on May the 20th they performed on and won the Eurovision Song Contest for Finland with their single “Hard Rock Hallelujah” from that album. Small bit of trivia for you, not only were they the first Finnish group to
win the contest but are also still the only Hard Rock band to win ever! This is probably their most popular/mainstream album that (with the acclaim of the Eurovision win) threw them into the public eye and got them noticed around the world. The Arockalypse features guests such as Dee Snider and Jay Jay French (Twisted Sister) and Udo Dirkschnieider (Accept) on various tracks and boasts a fantastic array of marvellous songs. Ones to look out for, as well as “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, are the anthemic opener “Bringing Back The Balls To Rock”, the playful “The Deadite Girls Gone Wild” and “Who’s Your Daddy?”. One of my all time favourite tracks is called “The Kids Who Wanna Play With The Dead” it tries to shed some light on why metal and horror fans are considered different from the norm and humorously speculates ways in which we turned out this way. They also re-released “Would You Love A Monsterman” with a brand new video shot in a similar vein to a new movie they were starring in called DARK FLOORS (review here) which was released in 2008.

Album number four, Deadache, had a very tough job of living up to its predecessor and, in my opinion, does a very good job of it! A familiar sounding Lordi offering dripping in horror references with song titles such as “Man Skin Boots”, “The Ghosts of the Heceta Head” and “Monsters Keep Me Company”. The track “Devil Hides Behind Her Smile” features an organ intro from The Phantom Of The Opera. “The Rebirth Of The Countess” showcases the talents of Awa’s keyboard playing and “Missing Miss Charlene” has guest vocals of a children’s choir. There are five versions of Deadache all with different bonus tracks. They went all out to promote this album and it was marketed globally, as was The Arockalypse but unfortunately because of this it made a loss and they were, once again, struggling both within the band and especially financially.

In true Lordi style though they did not let it bring them down and fifth studio album Babez For Breakfast was released in 2010. This album was deliberately made to be less serious than Deadache; the first single was “This Is Heavy Metal” is a classic catchy Lordi signature track in the same vein as “Bringing Back The Balls To Rock”. There are some comedic/cheesy gems such as “ZombieRawkMachine”, “I’m Bigger Than You” and “Nonstop Night”. The anthem of the album is definitely  “Give Your Life For Rock N Roll” the mantra of Mr. Lordi. The release of this album was probably the only good thing to happen to them for the next year or so, as soon after, Kita left to pursue a solo career, they replaced him with Otus-The Butcher (Tonmi Lillman) but the bands popularity after their Eurovision success was flailing and their album sales were diving. During this time Mr. Lordi enlisted the help of director friend Antti Haase to follow the band and record a documentary of life for Lordi after Eurovision. With Antti in tow they did a brief tour of Europe to break in Otus, so to speak and try to generate some more income. Mr. Lordi also went down the route of popular reality TV and took part in Finnish TV series “Kuorosota” or “Clash of the Choirs” as it is known over here and he came so close but unfortunately did not win. Because of his involvement with Clash of the Choirs the band only managed to play a few festivals. It was a few days after they had played a local festival that news came to the band that their new Drummer Otus had passed away. The only explanation I can find is that it says he suffered a bout of illness.

He had only been with the band 4 months but had known the members for a few years before hand. He was sorely missed. Because of this tragic news they cancelled what remained of their gigs at the start of 2012 but had to honour their remaining festival commitments so enlisted the help of Jimmy Hammer (Ironcross) who was known only as The Drummer and whose identity was sworn to secrecy, to fulfil their obligations. Despite everything that had been happening in 2012 it was in fact Lordi’s 20th Anniversary that year so to celebrate this they released a combined CD and DVD compilation album titled Scarchives Vol 1. It contained their very first previously unreleased album Bend Over & Pray The Lord in its entirety, plus the original version of the song “Get Heavy” and a DVD of Lordi’s first ever gig, poignantly edited by Otus. It was after the death of Otus that Awa announced that she too was leaving the band, she hung on a few months and played her final gig with the band in Aug 2012 at a 20th Anniversary gig in their hometown, she had been with the band for seven years. Awa’s last gig was also the unofficial last gig for The Drummer as it had been decided he would not become a permanent member.

With no time to lose they recruited Mana-Insectoman (Antto Tuomainen) on Drums and Hella-The Scarbie Doll (Henna-Riikka Paakkda) on Keyboards and headed to Nashville and producer Michael Wagener (responsible for producing and mixing albums for Megadeth, W.A.S.P, Metallica and, er, Janet Jackson!) to record their sixth studio album To Beast Or Not To Beast. This album does seem to have a slightly different feel to it than the previous ones I think they’ve really tried to sound a bit more modern, the keyboards in particular seem to have changed from the days of Awa and Enary but not in a bad way. They are still just as fun and dedicated to horror as ever. With some truly awesome songs like the first single “The Riff” which is a story about how Mr. Lordi stole the main lick from Death himself. “I Luv Ugly” coz scaly creatures need love too, and “Horrorfiction” blurring the lines between horror story plots and reality. It ends with one of their best songs ever “Sincerely With Love” this song begs to be played as loud as possible preferably with you singing along! And finally the bonus track which is a live drum track and mix performed by their late Drummer called “SCG6: Otus’ Butcher Clinic”.


On October 31st 2014 they released album number seven “Scare Force One”, an album oozing with cheesy puns and classic Lordi track titles including “How To Slice A Whore”, “Cadaver Lover” and “The United Rocking Dead”. The Japanese version has a bonus cover version of the Pointer Sisters song “I’m So Excited” and trust me it is a song to behold! Most, if not all, Lordi albums have a tribute song to one of the band members, “Kalmageddon” being one of them already mentioned, but Scare Force One has two “Amen’s Lament To Ra Pt.2” (part 1 being on Babez For Breakfast) and “Hellas Kitchen”. This album is typical Lordi and follows on from To Beast Or Not To Beast very nicely.

Lordi’s eighth studio album was released on the 16th Sept 2016, before its release they intrigued us with a short description that it was to be a split album of sorts, the first six tracks being old school Lordi and the last being designed as a kind of concept album and as promised Monstereophonic: Theaterror vs Demonarchy does not disappoint. The first half is indeed classic Lordi but there is an obvious increased enthusiasm within the band. The first track, after their obligatory creepy SCG opener, is “Lets Go Slaughter He-Man” it has the most rousing 80’s keyboard intro and is ridiculously amusing, and it just keeps on going in the same vein for the next 5 tracks. All incredibly catchy songs, just be careful exactly where you are when you start singing along to them e.g.: walking through town or sitting on the bus NOT advised, heh heh!!

The fantastic discords of “Mary Is Dead” and sing along “Sick Flick” are particular favourites of mine. The second half, Demonarchy, is opened by another haunting SCG intro track, and we are thrown in head first into a world of seriously heavy guitar driven gloriousness. It’s still Lordi, it can’t be anything else, they can never be accused of trying to sound like other bands it just will never happen, but this half is more raw and faster than the first. I prostrate myself on the floor in true Wayne’s World “we are not worthy” fashion in front of Amen and Ox for this half of the album as they really do show what talents they are! Amazing guitar solos and bone shaking bass make this half of the album a Lordi fans wet dream. “Heaven Sent Hell On Earth” and “Break Of Dawn” are the stand outs for me at this moment in time but the rest of the album is truly awesome and I’m sure my current favourites will change the more I listen to it. The single from this album “Hug You Hardcore” was released in August and I remember listening to it over and over thinking and hoping that the rest of the album would be as amazing as this track and I was not disappointed. If you get the chance then check out the uncensored video to “Hug You Hardcore” for an extra treat. This album puts them back on form and I love it as much as The Arockalypse and The Monsterican Dream definitely a must have album.

Lordi have toured around the world both as headliners and as support for bands including Nightwish and Type O Negative. I was lucky enough to see them live in May 2013 when they were touring the To Beast Or Not To Beast album and they certainly did not disappoint. It was in a small venue and I believe they got held up at the airport so they were quite late on but when they did turn up they put on one hell of a show! We were treated to endless gems from most of their albums but obviously the majority were from To Beast… plus encores of “Hard Rock Hallelujah” and “Sincerely With Love”. Their stage presence is impressive and they all look amazing in their costumes. With his 10 inch high platforms on Mr. Lordi towers over us all but despite his (awesome) appearance he is a true showman and absolutely hilarious!! He interacts so well with the crowd and they don’t just crack jokes and play music they have some well rehearsed skits in between including swinging axes, buckets of blood and dismembered body parts, during the song “I’m The Best” Mr. Lordi dresses up as a Prom Queen and accepts a bouquet of flowers! If you ever get the chance to see Lordi live, don’t hesitate to do so you will not be disappointed!!

On May 25th 2018 AFM Records released Lordi’s ninth studio album the puntastic SEXORCISM!! Described as possibly their most controversial record to date as well as being dubbed “a full-on and uncensored shot of Lordi brand hard rock and roll”, this is another quality release from the band who feel like they are once again gaining in momentum after the success of Monstereophonic. Whilst I do agree with the statement of it being controversial we all know that controversy is not something new for Lordi. It is very full on though so I can see where this view has come from. To me it is Lordi back to their controversial best!! It is , of course, filled with references to exorcism, demon possession and the  movies The Exorcist, Poltergeist and other classics . Musically it has a more back to basics feel to it then 2016’s Monstereophonics but it is by no means simple .  Each song is huge, heavy and riff focused rather than getting too technical. It has the familiar Lordi feel to it with an extra 70’s/80’s hair metal undertone which is just fantastic. As mentioned earlier this album is not short on the puns we know, love and come to expect from the band. Almost every track name is a play in words, for example, “The Beast Is Yet To Cum”, “Polterchrist”, “Sodomesticated Animal” and, of course, the title track “Sexorcism”. The two singles from Sexorcism were the slightly ballardy yet very catchy “Your Tongue’s Got The Cat” and the infectious “Naked In My Cellar”. There are no slower songs this time they are all fast and full on riffs. They’ve definitely upped their game since “Scare Force One” that’s for sure and they seem to be on a massive roll again proving to all that it is possible to bounce back. It is sad to hear that “Sexorcism” will be the last Lordi album to feature long serving bassist Ox as he has announced his departure from the band at the end of 2019’s festival commitments after 13 years in the band .

Despite all their ups and downs as a band they always seem to carry on doing what they do best no matter what and that is making cracking albums, coining cheesy puns, terrorising small children and creeping out your parents…..Long may they reign!!

Article written by Sarah Budd

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