Somehow it’s already been 2 years since German dark rockers, Lord of the Lost came to Helsinki. Since then they’ve released a new album, Thornstar, and an EP, Swan Songs II. The show took place at On the Rocks in Helsinki on February 22nd, 2019, which had been remodeled since their last visit. Unlike last time when they had local industrial melodic death metallers, Fear of Domination, in the opening slot, this time they’d chosen two decidedly non-metal acts to open for them. SadDoLLs and Rain Diary represented a more Goth rock motif, which was sure to please fans of a softer crowd.
Lord of the Lost only narrowly escaped a mention in the site’s 2018 Awards. Thornstar is a well-balanced Gothic metal album. It has big, heavy sounds, catchy choruses, as well as some chilling moments. I enjoyed their last show at On the Rocks and felt that 2 years was the perfect time to wait between seeing them live again – especially now that the place had been renovated to allow for a bigger dance floor!
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Sadly I only arrived on time to catch the second act. I would have been interested in seeing SadDoLLs as well, though. I’d recommend it to fans of The 69 Eyes. By the time I made it to the venue, Rain Diary had already started their set. From the door I had wondered what exactly was going on, as their lead vocalist sounded like he belonged in a hard rock group. Upon closer inspection, Rain Diary was straight up Goth rock in a very familiar, Finnish way. Their singer looked more or less like Mikko Herranen and sounded somewhat cock rock-y but otherwise fairly generic. At their heaviest they never got much more intense than, say, HIM and their more sentimental bits were so saccharine I almost lost my lunch. They used a lot of beats from a backing track but had a live drummer nonetheless. Their solos (if you can call them that) felt juvenile and inexperienced. Speaking purely aesthetically, they were a good fit for the evening and the crowd seemed to be more-or-less welcoming. They seemed like a very nice group, though. They even had time to sing happy birthday to SadDoLLs singer, George Downlove.
Lord of the Lost’s intro tape was the training montage from Rocky IV by Vince DiCola. It was good, cheesy fun and the tightly packed crowd was excited; some even clapped along for a bit. The band all had individual new face paints, ranging from singer, Chris Harm’s deliberately messy diva look to drummer, Niklas Kahl’s black metal corpse paint. They had a close-up of the Thornstar artwork as the backdrop. The detail, which is easily missed on a phone screen, really shined on the large canvas; absolutely gorgeous. They started off strong with the heavy track, “On this Rock I Will Build My Church” and the powerful “Laureley” from the new album. “Laureley” dragged a bit in the chorus but they made up for it whenever they screamed. The opener had crowd shouting and pumping their fists in the air. “Morgana” soon followed and Harm ditched his guitar, which he’d been playing up until then.
Harm then got visibly flustered, as he was taken aback by the crowd’s reception. “It’s times like these it’s hard to believe that this is Helsinki and not our home town.” He then took up the guitar again and they played “Full Metal Whore,” which absolutely will be stuck in my head for the coming week. They kept the filthy theme going with “Sex on Legs” which, incidentally, had one of the weirdest pieces of merchandise attached to it. Indeed, they had panties with the title printed on the back on sale for 20€. I saw at least one proud fan brandishing “Sex on Legs” on their butt. In the mysterious “Naxxar” and “Black Halo,” Harm got to show off some range. His pleasing baritone was at its best here and he didn’t seem to hold back on his screams. Until now, “Black Halo” had seemed a bit underwhelming to me but this live rendition breathed new life into it. They took the tempo up a notch with “Drag Me to Hell,” which had the whole floor bopping like mad.
I couldn’t quite see it myself through the crowd, but Harm then said he had somehow ripped his pants. “I did that last time I was here too, when the stage was still there [gesturing to where the stage was prior to the renovation].” Then he told the sound guy, “The reverb effect on the mic is about 1000 degrees too loud.” I found that interesting, since I’d been working with the assumption that it had been intentional. Shows what I know, because he sounded way better after that point. They did the cutesy ballad “Prison” next, with the crowd enthusiastically joining in. Similarly oscillating from sweet and heavy was “Under the Sun,” which seemed a bit less familiar to the crowd as it was newer but kept the energy up, as did “Haythor.”
Harm then took a minute to throw some guitar picks into the audience; “White so you’ll have an easier time finding them off the floor” – very thoughtful. He then recalled how it was their seventh or eighth time in Helsinki. Remarking, “Let’s just say, if I ever wrote a book, the craziest stories would be from here.” He then said it was going to be a short night since they needed to leave for St. Petersburg by 2 or 3 a.m., but they’d make time to sign some CDs and party with the crowd until then. They then followed up with fan favorites “Dry the Rain” and “Six Feet Underground.” The latter ended in a drum solo where the synth player joined in on a separate drumkit. Harm then pointed out that it was drummer Niklas Kahl’s first gig in Helsinki. He then did a quick survey on where people in the audience were from and surprisingly many were not from Helsinki, or even Finland. They then played the Lady Gaga cover “Bad Romance”; vastly superior to the original. As fun as it was, I would’ve much preferred their Backstreet Boys cover, since they didn’t play that last time either.
Continuing on the classics was “Blood for Blood.” The intro cut off for a second and they got a bit playful when Harm seemingly flubbed a line, but everything else went smoothly. At this point the party had reached critical mass: they got the densely-crowded floor jumping up and down. I thought I was going to die of heatstroke, or worse. Then they moved over to full on dance music for “Doomsday Disco” and the embarrassingly poppy “Die Tomorrow.” Harm noted that the last album was written with a Finnish guy and that they plan to come up north next summer to write the next album. They then saved time by dispensing with the usual encore ritual quickly. They came out with the spicy Latin “La Bomba.” Even though the line, “we make love like loaded guns,” still haunts my dreams, I’ve come to appreciate the song for what it is and just had a good time. They finished the set with “Forevermore,” and finally, “Lighthouse.” “Forevermore” had an almost Blind Guardian-esque sing-along portion which worked fine to the crowd but seemed ultimately vapid and overly frivolous. Harm claimed that something had happened to the light programming for the last song and so they asked the crowd to light up the room with their phones. I suspected this was a half-truth of sorts, since it was for a ballad called “Lighthouse.” The change in lighting did create a surreal and intimate feeling that only a club gig could house.
What a party it had been. Even though I missed the first band and didn’t quite get into the second band, I was exhausted after it was over. Lord of the Lost were in excellent form. Chris Harm had the crowd eating out of his hand for the whole set. The sound was excellent, even with the extra reverb on the first half of the set. Their lighting had been an invaluable tool for building atmosphere. The crowd – beyond enthusiastic. It’s rare to see a gig this intense, even though in terms of beats per minute, it was quite tame. They were obviously proud of the new album since they ended up playing eight songs from it. I could have maybe gone with a few less in favor of some older songs, but as I said, they benefited from the live renditions. This is an amazingly prolific band and they’re already gearing up to do another album. I’ll be looking forward to hearing it and seeing them again.
Intro: “Training Montage” – Vince DiCola
1. “On this Rock I Will Build My Church”
4. “Full Metal Whore”
5. “Sex on Legs”
7. “Black Halo”
8. “Drag Me to Hell”
10. “Under the Sun”
12. “Dry the Rain”
13. “Six Feet Underground”
14. “Bad Romance” (Lady Gaga cover)
15. “Blood for Blood”
16. “Doomsday Disco”
17. “Die Tomorrow”
18. “La Bomba”
Photos: Miia Collander