Friday, May 26, 2006

Finnish Heavy Metal

So, technically this doesn't have a lot to do with Old English. However, when the truly bizarre comes onto your computer screen, looks you in the eye, and then starts singing heavy metal...well, you kind of have to talk about it.

A few weeks back, in an article I am now very sad to say is only available via Times Select, the New York Times talked about Finland's concern that their representative in the pop music contest Eurovision was a "heavy metal mock-satanic" band named Lordi. On their homepage (or rather, on the homepage I could find that isn't the one I just linked to, which is associated with Eurovision), Lordi describes their origins thusly: "Amen the unstoppable mummy, Enary the manipulative Valkyrie, Kalma the biker-zombie from hell, and Kita the alien man-beast with with the combined strengths of all the beasts known to man. Led by Lordi, this true last gang in town armed themselves with guitars and killer songs. And then there was sound! Once you wake up from the Monsterician Dream you'll know at least one thing. Monsters have more fun."

Granted, this is the original group -- Kalma and Enary are, alas, no longer with the band. They've been replaced by Ox and Awa, a hell bull and a vampire countess respectively. Not a bad trade for a biker-zombie, though I personally liked the idea of a Valkyrie.

What's fascinating here is that this is pretty singable stuff. I'm not known for my musical taste (I like an eclectic assortment ranging from R.E.M. to Sondheim to Gregorian Chant), but when I heard Lordi, I was quite impressed with the fact that this was not simply what my 10th grade English teacher would have called "no tune and hollerin'" music. This is the type of music that gets stuck in your head. Which is a little surprising, given that the lead guitarist is a mummy. I've yet to figure out what Lordi is, other than his description as a "biomechanic man." But this is great stuff (or at least the two songs I've listened to so far are great). The song that won them Eurovision was "Hard Rock Hallelujah" -- a really cool single with lyrics like "Rock and roll angels, bring thine hard rock hallelujah".

Even more intriguing, however, is their single Would You Love a Monsterman? (click on the link to see it at www.youtube.com). Now, I've been morbidly curious about monsters since the X-Files, which premiered when I was still in grade school, thus warping my world relatively early, though I wasn't allowed to watch it till high school. Aliens, flukemen -- you name it, I loved it. They scared the heck out of me then -- and, to be honest, still do. Certain episodes are nearly unwatchable if it's after dark. But anyway, this vague obsession with monsters was refined into a more academically inclined pursuit when, in one of my seminars last year, my professor gave us Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)" -- the introduction to the volume Monster Theory-- which is really one of the more interesting pieces I've read thus far in graduate school. It's been quite productive as a way of thinking through certain Old English texts. It also has the tendency to make certain things -- like Lordi -- far more interesting to me than they normally would be.

Particularly when there are lyrics like the ones for this "Would you love a monsterman" song: "Would you love a monsterman, could you understand beauty of the beast?" and "Yeah I would slay, yeah I would maim, yeah I would vanish in thin air and reappear again."

Not to mention: "You don't know why we passed you by, you search for something never found along these lines -- someday you may turn around and terrify -- you can't deny, you crucify..." and "all that you get is much less you deserve, leaving for now, someday I may return..."

For some reason it also reminds me of Labyrinth, that Jim Henson movie starring a very young Jennifer Connelly and a very disturbingly compelling David Bowie as the Goblin King Jareth..."just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave."

Or, to quote Cohen on a relevant point brought to mind by all this -- "fear of the monster is really a kind of desire."

All that to say -- though it's vaguely un-nerving, and I'm still not sure what to think of it, I'm rather compelled to pick up a copy of Monsterician Dream or Arockalypse.

Because when a vampire countess, an Egyptian mummy, a hell-bull, an alien man-beast and a biomechanic man start to play hypnotically good rock songs -- well, let's face it, it's pretty hard to turn away.

4 comments:

LeVostreGC said...

Yo this be Lo-wiz not Dad,

Lordi can do major entertain but they songzzz is total cheez hair rock. Like unto Freddie Mercury meets David Lee Roth in a hotel in 1983 -- after cOcAiNe is x-changed both parteez credit cards be maxxed at a halloween store in teh local mallzor.

Edward of York once made me listen to hella skandinavian death metal and that shizznitt be SERIOUS - not like Lordi. Lordi is jus sum cuspy glam kamp x 3, whereas Satyricon et alia is serious EDDA-fying gloom with the metalz all being so heavy they be regulated by the international atomic energy commission yo.

Le Vostre
LOUIS TO THE C TO THE HAUCER

anhaga said...

Louis -- I stand corrected. I'm impressed with your knowledge of the genre, too! I'd personally never heard of it till two weeks ago. ~Anhaga

Ancrene Wiseass said...

You know, what with you, Manolo the Shoe Blogger (http://shoeblogs.com/wordpress/category/media/music/) and the Go Fug Yourself mavens (http://gofugyourself.typepad.com/go_fug_yourself/2006/05/fugovision_song.html) all posting about Lordi, I'm beginning to think I really ought to look into them.

Even if they are "total cheez hair rock." 'Cause, let's face it, I have no shame.

anhaga said...

You definitely should -- there are a ton of their videos on You Tube. So interesting.