Simple without being minimalist, sexy without being over-stylized, The Hellacopters’ music, already the stuff of legend in their native Sweden, have been waiting for years to break through to the American mainstream. And indeed, if it doesn’t happen this time, the title Rock & Roll Is Dead might be more than just clever playfulness.
The Hellacopters recall the fast-driving groove rock ’70s heyday in a sans-irony context, bringing the carefree rock aesthetic to the new century with catchiness, swagger and a sound that’s tailor-made for the arena. “Everything’s On TV” alone justifies the praise both European audiences and American critics have been throwing at them for years, but it’s a song like “No Angel To Lay Me Away,” with its “I’m a rock star in a hotel room” lyric and easygoing rhythm that really demonstrates why The Hellacopters should be a household name.
You see, what separates The Hellacopters from the scores of other bands out there in the MC5 fan club is that The Hellacopters actually rock. While others spend their cash on their haircuts and make half-assed records, The Hellacopters pour every ounce of themselves into their music. It’s not over anyone’s head, but it’s confrontational and in your face. A fast-paced track like “Bring It On Home” shows this well.
With bonus tracks for the US release and extra video content, Rock & Roll Is Dead will no doubt be a treasured family heirloom for anyone with enough brains to pick up a copy. Straightforward good-time numbers like “Nothing Terribly New” and “I’m In The Band,” and more subtle material like “Leave It Alone,” prove that The Hellacopters are capable of rocking right alongside their bygone heroes of yesteryear.