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The Hellacopters - Rock & Roll Is Dead

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 @ 5:46 PM


Liquor and Poker Records

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Whoopie! These guys once toured with Kiss.

On first glance, this might seem like a great opportunity for exposure, but on second thought, a couple of these dudes look a little skinny and effeminate in the ol’ promotional photographs…you know what that means---better watch out for Mean Man Gene or you run the risk of getting some unsuspecting part of your anatomy grabbed on one of those desperately lonely moonlit nights out on the road. Hell, everyone knows that even six degrees from Gene Simmons can turn into about one and a half if you have long hair and anything resembling a functional rear end---hey, I forgot to mention, these guys are Swedish! The funniest part of all of this is that if they had an “Ass Grabbing Booth” at one of those Kiss Conventions--half of the folks in line wouldn’t be chicks-they’d be dudes waiting for a little five finger love from the fire breathing vampire. Luckily for the Hellacopters though, a band that kicks it out as hard as they do doubtlessly must have the rock gods shining down on them in some form, so here’s hoping they managed to avoid this potentially problematic situation with the head of the School of Rock. If a music fan also takes into consideration the positive Karmic force that goes along with one member of the Hellacopters declaring in an interview that, “I’m not a big fan of System of a Down. I think they should just stop playing music..”, then these factors alone should guarantee that we’re discussing a group that should be on the verge of absolute greatness. True enough--Rock & Roll Is Dead is an example of, if not current greatness, potential greatness in releases still to come.

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Every place I look, someone wants to describe this record as "rawk"---I assume this would be like the sound a person would make if they mated with a parrot while drinking a blueberry slurpy. Well, that is the only time we are going to use that term today, kiddies. This album is ROCK from the first selection to the last--buzzwords and bullshit be damned. People in the machine want to continuously lump these guys with bands like The Vines or The Hives (Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist does make a guest appearance here--unnecessary) or even…gasp…The Killers-that just isn’t an accurate categorization. I mean, their singer came from Entombed-so this is obviously not your ordinary mall-ready garage band drivel. Face it, a primary influence like Creedence Clearwater Revival rather than the usual bastardized Iggy Pop/Cure hybrid simply lends itself to a more substantial sound that’s chock full of soul and power---that’s what this is. When one combines this type of classic rock awareness with tunes possessing both a solid chorus and tangible structure, what is left is a band that plays music that even a self-respecting metal head doesn’t have to feel guilty listening to.

Before we even start, understand that this record is not a carbon copy of its predecessors Supershitty To The Max or Grande Rock. There is less punk and more stellar musicianship here to be sure. The band’s latest begins with “Before the Fall” which is a two minute and eleven second blast of gunpowder and good times. “Everything’s On TV” follows which, at this point, is the single that most people have already heard from the record. It’s a tune that basically takes on the whole couch potato-zombie culture that pervades society leaving many to experience life through a 32 in. screen glowing in the front of their living room.

    “The world's in a hurry but I don't have to worry
    I got my virtue and I got my vice
    I got bedsores - aching ligaments galore
    Now that's a tiny sacrifice

    No I don't have to go out
    I'll just stay inside - it keeps me company
    I have all I need because everything is on TV.”

Afterwards, Nicke Royale’s (ex-songwriter/drummer Entombed) histrionics on the memorable “Monkeyboy” explodes onto the scene with all of its barroom bluster before giving way to the raucously compelling triumvirate of “No Angel To Lay Me Away”, “Bring It On Home” and “Leave It Alone”. Each of these tracks dashes and darts, stops and starts while displaying a heated energy that seems to border on frenzy while never losing focus of the direction of the song.

“Murder On My Mind” is slated to be one of the featured tracks on this release, but in actuality, it probably isn’t even one of the top seven tunes here. It’s not bad or anything--it just doesn’t seem to take off like some of the other selections such as “Nothing Terribly New” or “Make It Tonight” which are basically Skynard-.38 Special progeny supercharged with an attitude laden backbeat. If that wasn’t enough, I would almost swear that the guitar intro for “Put Out The Fire” sounds like the Dead Milkmen. I’m sure it’s a coincidence and all, but it was interesting hear anyway. The way the band seemingly switches genres within the same track while somehow maintaining continuity within its sound is compelling and demands repeat listens to be sure. When the record concludes with the bluesy-chorus track “Time Got No Time To Wait For Me”, the listener will be no doubt feel as though they have just been rocked by a band currently plying their trade at a level few in the genre today are capable of attaining.

The declaration that “Rock & Roll is Dead” may not seem like much of a stretch to the average MTV viewer or the regular aficionado of the Billboard music charts, but to those who actively seek out music that’s designed to grab your soul and shake it, these brave individuals already realize that although rock isn’t exactly positioned prominently in the public consciousness right now, it does exist-it is just a little harder to find. Sometimes though, even in the bleakest of times, there is a flicker, just a flicker in the darkness that manages to flame up and somehow become something more. For this time and place, the Hellacopters are that flame. They may not be representing metal or thrash or punk or garage music exactly, but the flag this band flies is somehow even more important-the belief that rock music can transcend time and mood and essentially become the auditory backdrop for the memorable moments that become one’s life. The Hellacopters don’t belong to the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s---they belong to now….I can even forgive them for touring with Kiss.

***1/2

Track listing:

    1. Before The Fall
    2. Everything's On TV
    3. Monkeyboy
    4. No Angel To Lay Me Away
    5. Bring It On Home
    6. Leave It Alone
    7. Murder On My Mind
    8. I'm In The Band
    9. Put Out The Fire
    10. I Might Come See You Tonight
    11. Nothing Terribly New
    12. Make It Tonight
    13. Time Got No Time To Wait For Me


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