Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Hellacopters - High Visibility

I have always made my love for the Hellacopters well known - I believe them to be the best band of the last
couple of decades and true heirs to the Detroit rock'n'roll of the MC5 & Stooges - and while I will always be partial to the first two albums, I think that everything that they put out is fantastic. This was their fourth full-length release (after Grande Rock, where they first cleaned up their act, sonically) and it certainly has some of their classic songs. On this record they used producer Chips Kiesbye, from the great band Sator, and would continue to work with him for the rest of their career.

Chips knows how to get a great guitar sound, and Nicke & Strings try our some different tones on this record, while maintaining a great rock'n'roll edge. There are some darker tinges to songs like "Hopeless Case of a Kid in Denial" but go back to raisin' hell in the manic "Baby Borderline". Singer Nicke is never afraid of melodies and catchy choruses as the guitars wind in and out and keyboardist Anders gets his time in the limelight, as well. Love the feedback-laden "Sometimes I Don't Know" and bassist Kenny intro's "Toys and Flavors", a song that has tons of band interaction with plenty of keys and guitars riffin' and solo'ing on top of a damn catchy tune.

There's some really cool Kiss-styled backing vocals in "You're Too Good" that also has lots of other 70's rock touchstones while "Throw Away Heroes" concentrates more on the vocal melody, though there's still lots of energy and - of course - a great guitar solo! They do the closest that they get to a ballad in "No Song Unheard", with some nice lyrical lines ("sure would be great to have a clock with no hands") and complementary guitar licks. More 70's hard rock with "Truckloads of Nothin'" and "A Heart Without Home" with terrific, wah-wahed guitars intertwining.

The boys pull out acoustic guitars for "No One's Gonna Do It For You", though they waste no time in layering with electrics, as well. Still, it gives the song a different tone and feel. The pace returns to "manic/frantic" in "I Wanna Touch", which has some good Chuck Berry references, and then the record closes with two rockers, "Hurtin' Time" and "Envious", both with cool arrangements and guitar and vocal call-and-answer work.

I'm biased as I am a huge fan of these guys, but I think that everything that they did should be in the collection of every lover of loud guitars and punk'n'roll. Yes, the first two are the wildest and most out-of-control, but this is just a damned fine rock'n'roll album!