The Hellacopters - Rock & Roll is Dead Review
By Travis Becker
The Hellacopters are back with the purest example of irony foisted upon the music-listening public since Starship came out with "We Built this City." Perhaps the greatest pure Rock and Roll (capital R, capital R) band out there today and their new album is called, Rock & Roll Is Dead. One can only assume a heavy dose of sarcasm, as in, "Rock & Roll is dead? Well listen to this!" Nicke Andersson has traveled light years from his death metal roots in Entombed but instead of the coldness of space, he's discovered a new galaxy filled with melodic, Seventies-tinged Rock and Soul which is thankfully devoid of the green cheese of which most of those planets end up being comprised. American telescopes haven't quite sighted them yet, but with the gravitational pull of music like this, they'll be in out backyards before long. Set phasers to stun.
What immediately grabs the listener about the Hellacopters is the ease with which they pull off unreal melodies and hooks without ever sounding poppy in the least. Andersson's smooth vocals and easy delivery, along with riffs cribbed from Chuck Berry, evoke a feeling of head-bobbing, Dazed and Confused watching bliss. Then the guitars erupt in showers of molten lava solos with hand claps and backing vocals all over the place in a display of beautiful chaos. The Hellacopters, however, have chops to back it all up. Definite worshippers of the MC5 and the easier going, but no less rocking, Seventies-era, heroin-addled Rolling Stones, the Hellacopters don't necessarily flaunt a bigger sound than neuvo-garage bands, they just pull off the music more skillfully. The music is tight and the production is spot-on, lacking any sense of the amateurish cacophony of the Strokes.
Fans of the Hellacopters early material, such as s***ty to the Max or Payin the Dues may be disappointed with Rock & Roll is Dead if they were expecting more of the raw energy those releases expelled. A much more controlled album, this new release is much closer the albums that have made the Hellacopters a huge name in Europe, High Visibility and By the Grace of God. Andersson seems content, however, to take the band in whatever direction he pleases. Radio-friendly singles like, "Everything is on T.V." confirm that the ashes of the old Hellacopters are burned out and the phoenix has risen. The band has truly revived the three-minute single without bowing to any popular convention. Indeed, the Hellacopters now sound more akin to Cheap Trick than to Entombed or to the MC5 for that matter. And that's not meant as a slam, only as a testament to their ability to write songs that will be stuck in your head for weeks to come. In fact, nothing feels more like kicking out the jams than does the albums blistering closer, "Time Got no Time to Wait for Me."
Rock & Roll is Dead probably won't be the album that breaks the Hellacopters in the U.S., although an opening slot for a big time band in the States might help. But is anyone willing to risk getting blown off of the stage every night? Truth be told, it's doubtful. This record shames anything out there by most anyone getting played on the radio, and that's not an exaggeration. Is Rock and Roll dead? Play this once and there's your answer. Rock and Roll is dead, long live the Hellacopters.
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The Hellacopters - Rock & Roll is Dead
Label:Liquor and Poker Music
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