Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Album Review: Lordi - Sexorcism

Lordi has long been a band in an odd position. While they have continued to produce albums that have a lot of fun, catchy monster-themed rock and roll, they also have to know they will never be able to match what "Hard Rock Hallelujah" did. Not only did it get worldwide fame, but it's still the best song they've ever written. It has to be hard knowing that everything you do for the rest of your career is going to be competing for second fiddle. I thought they might have been turning the corner on their last record, which mixed half an album of typical Lordi material with a suite of heavier, more progressive songs that formed a mini-concept album. That half of the record was interesting, but they seem to have reverted back to form for this new one.

Not that there's anything wrong with Lordi's business-as-usual. They remain one of the more fun bands out there, firmly embracing their campy image and ability to throw pop elements into their music without being branded sell-outs.

Lordi's songs and stories have always been tongue-in-cheek, but there is a time where being tasteless for the sake of comedy can go too far. In our current cultural climate, the title track of this record is one that sure as heck feels like it has. The imagery of forcibly violating a woman who gets described as a "whore" in order to "save" her from whatever sexual demons Mr Lordi has conjured up isn't funny anymore. It's disturbing, and not in the good way horror movies play with. It's flat out creepy that he spent as much time as he did thinking about it.

What I can't deny is that Lordi has a knack for writing catchy songs, and as much as I find that song uncomfortable, it's also easy to get stuck in your head. Lordi albums are judged by how many of those songs they're able to come up with on a particular cycle, because while they can write riotously fun rock and roll, they also seldom write entire albums that don't get weighed down by some filler, which is the case here as well.

With over an hour of music, and all but one of the song titles digging deep for a mediocre pun, the band is clearly trying hard with this one. Maybe a bit too hard.

While there are great songs like "The Tongue's Got Your Cat", there are also songs like "Romeo Ate Juliet", which don't have any of the trademark hooks I've come to expect. It's heavy, but it isn't fun enough for a band dressed up like monsters. There's very much a feeling that Lordi is trying to bridge the two sides of their last album, making this a heavier and more metal album than their previous works, while still trying to retain the catchy hooks of their earlier material. That's hard to pull off, and they don't always manage it as well as they would like.

Let's not be mistaken; more often than not they still deliver the sticky choruses Lordi trades in, it's just that the journey to get there isn't always as easy as it could be. And that's where the album's length comes into play. With over an hour of music, and the songs stretching out a bit more for some lengthier intros, it's a lot to sit through before you get the fix you're looking for. A tighter album would have benefited these songs, I would say.

By the time we get past the intermission, the weaker cuts on the second half of the album, notably "Slashion Model Girls", become hard to sit through without wanting to move on to the next cut. Very few albums should ever be an hour long, and this isn't one of them.

But to be fair, most of the material here is all very good. Lordi is trying out something a bit new here, and there are the expected growing pains. "Sexorcism" is still an album that provides a healthy dose of fun heavy metal, and it delivers a bunch of great Lordi songs in the way only they can. Sure, there are issues with the album, but that's true of almost every record you pick up. "Sexorcism" is Lordi moving forward, and while they aren't quite there yet, I like where this direction can lead.

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