|Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
The End Records
March 19th, 2013
Release length: 47:20
First of all, the production quality is a litle mixed. The music doesn’t have much of a hard hitting impact all the time, though it’s obviously going for an eighties style to suit the material being performed. The keyboards stand out the most with that era’s synth driven sound that works for the simpoler tracks. The guitars have a decent distortion on them that caters to the Hard Rock sound, and matches the level of the keyboards, which does drown them out a little more than they should be. Luckily, The bass isn’t too lost in the mix and does add a little extra bite to the richer passages, though not really in the emptier areas. The drumming focuses more on the tight, thicker snares that dominate the mix, as do the crisp cymbals, but the bass kicks are often hard to pick up due to being just a low thud. “I’m the Best” returns to this more aggressive sound, but doesn’t really overdo it. The heavier riffs are met with a catchy chorus that has a self-empowering message to the lyrics that can easily become another anthem for any listener.
Unfortunately, that’s the problem with this album. It doesn’t know if it’s supposed to be rebellious, carry a Horror theme, or have a catchy, radio friendly sound. This really does make the album a bit confusing as you go through it the first time, but even with that said, To Beast or not to Beast does still provide some really engaging material, though you wouldn’t notice it at first. “We’re Not Bad for the Kids (We’re Worse)” shows a Judas Priest influence that sounds rebellious thanks to the aggressive and somewhat technical guitar work and deeper vocal performance, but then goes to a more mainstream chorus full of radio-friendly riffs. It’s obvious the song is a sarcastic take on parents opinions of Rock at the start of the eighties, which includes a random, and sadly somewhat generic breakdown about half way through encouraging kids to listen to their parents because they are right. For the flow of the song it works, but it could have been better overall. While one of the more forgettable songs, the vulgar “Sincerely with Love,” is the opposite end of that spectrum. Still a fun song, the “screw you” attitude and slight aggression really sounds out of place, but still done well enough to make you want to chant along in the chorus.
Thankfully, things do start to drop the attitude after that first song, leading to some of the most memorable songs offered. “Horrifiction” has a hint of Horror Punk darkness, but handled in a bit of an upbeat manner that is absolutely addicting. All the litle touches, such as background harmonizations at a lower level against some creepy keyboard effects easily makes it one of the best tracks off the album. The often restrained vocal approach really works for the slasher-themed lyrics of obsession, and fans of those classics will instantly appreciate all the references throughout. “Schizo Doll” carries a slightly twisted environment to it, especially in the child-like “la la la’s” and dialoue passages that hit in some spots. While heavier, especially in the guitar solo, this one has enough infectious hooks and keyboard work to have it lodged in your brain due to how fun it ends up being, and how the flow goes in and out of harsher, overpowering music the further in you get.
“The Riff” throws the atmosphere into a darker vibe once more, but without trying to carry that rebellious approach “We’re Not Bad for the Kids (We’re Worse)” had. The tone of Rock worship feels far more natural and not too gimmicky, working wonders for the lyrical content about the man who created a riff he loved dying in a car crash, then his friend finding the Grim Reaper playing it, a plot oint that comes through in the enthusiastic drum and keyboard driven chorus. But, it’s “Something Wicked this Way Comes” that takes a truly darker turn. The slower pace is met with church bells ringing in the background, and some creepy, haunting effects from the keyboard that give the sense of a cemetary at night. The chorus also carries a bit of an epic environment, but never violates it for the sake of hooks or radio recognition.
It’s obvious that the line-up changes Lordi suffered over the past few years has definitely had an impact on their music. With how varied the atmosphere becomes, what should haave been a matured and driven album ends up sounding like the members are trying to find their direction once more. Thankfully this is far from a bad thing, as To Beast or not to Beast is still full of catchy material despite the rough and even gimmicky first song. If anything, this release is enough to cast the band in a different light, and leave you anxious to see how they progress with this new direction. Fans of Lordi won’t be let down, but more than one spin through is definitely required to truly appreciate what is being offered. With that said, fans need sto get ready to experience Lordi all over again in what culd be one of their most pivotol albums since The Arockalypse.
01. We’re Not Bad for the Kids (We’re Worse) – 3:23
02. I Luv Ugly – 3:48
03. The Riff – 3:45
04. Something Wicked This way Comes – 4:58
05. I’m the Best – 3:16
06. Horrifiction – 3:29
07. Happy New Fear – 4:46
08. Schizo Doll – 4:34
09. Candy for the Cannibal -4:43
10. Sincerely with Love – 3:14
11. VCG6 – Otus Butcher Clinic – 3:24
|Overall Score: 8/10