This is not the article I was supposed to publish today. Mostly because I already wrote about an album I can listen to all in one go in my penultimate post. But last week, Azkena Rock Festival announced that The Hellacopters will replace Primal Scream next friday, so I could do nothing but bring it forward.
The excuse could not be better, since I discovered The Hellacopters at the Azkena Rock Festival when thay played in the now-so-distant 2003. They fascinated me immediately and I became an absolute fan. But it doesn´t matter how crazy you go for a band you discover in a concert, you’ll never enjoy it as much as when you know the songs. That’s why I got so upset when I read, in 2008, that they had broken up and that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to listen to the songs that now I did know. For me, it was one of the most interesting bands at the time. But I wouldn’t see them live anymore.
When I arrived at home from work last friday, I checked Facebook and I saw that a picture had been published in ARF’s fanpage announcing the performance of the Swedes. It must be a joke. They’re not together! But if the ARF’s official page said it. I searched for information and I found that they were giving a single concert at Sweden Rock Festival. But the ARF demonstrated they’re getting things back on track after some years adrift. and tomorrow I’m seeing this amazing band!
From garaje to melodic rock
The Hellacopters has always been very faithful to its style. Just one second of any song is needed to know it’s them. Few bands combine so precisely powerful riffs, solid solos and melodies that are catchy but not oversweet. That’s what we found in the album I bring today, because melodies are something they have developed with time. In By The Grace Of God they reached its maximum definition, but it was something thay absolutely pass on in the beginning. Although, of course, few bands can brag about starting they carrer with a hit like (Gotta Get Some Action) Now!.
If we compare the first two albums [Supershitty to the max! (1996) –which they will play full in Mendizabala– and Payin’ The Dues 1997)] to this By The Grace Of God, which was the fifth, there’s a huge gulf between them regarding sound. In this one we find a cleanliness we couldn’t even notice in the saturated voices of the first albums. Nor in the disproportionate distortion of the guitars. I don’t say that that “dirt” was bad. In fact, it gives the songs a very fresh garaje touch. But this more mature sound allows to appreciate all the details better.
This evolution could be already perceived in High Visibility (2000), another superior album. Why do I bring By The Grace Of God instead of High Visibility, then? Does the first one deserve higher recognition as the second one? Actually, put into an album two hits like Toys And Flavors or Throw Away Heroes should be enough reason to pay attention to the recording. But even with this big ones, it doesn’t reach the level of By The Grace Of God (I’ll read very attentively your replys to this judgement)
Their next album, only Rock & Roll is Dead (2005) kept the level with some ease, but it lacks the strenght of the one we have today, what the first ones did have. Their last album, Head Off (2008), was a cover album
By The Grace Of God (The Hellacopters, 2002): 41 minutes
That’s the length of By The Grace Of God… and all The Hellacopters’ albums. Maybe, it has something to do with what I once read: apparently, they wanted to publish only in vinyl, but they do it in CD too, because, otherwise, they would sell nothing (it was the 2000’s, today the story would be very different in many ways). If we considere that vinyl LP’s last approximately 20 minutes each side, we have the 40 minutes of The Hellacopters’ albums and, therefore, of By The Grace Of God. It may be quite short, but full of (as I wrote before) os solid riffs and rythms, suitable solos and very powerful melodies. Guitars and voices combine perfectly, not understimating the piano, which has a prominent presence from the very beginning; and the very suitable choruses, even when they’re discreet.
Let’s stop going round and round and let’s enjoy By The Grace of God (track-by-track comments below):
01. By The Grace Of God
It’s the songs the album is named after
The piano drops the curtain indicating the tempo with crotchet of the same note. Immediately, the rest of the instruments come in intensively: a guitar plays the main riff, while the rest hit chords at the beginning of every bar.
There’s also a short but powerful solo.
02. All New Low
Every album, no matter how good it is, contains a track that can be skipped. In By The Grace Of God, All New Low is that track. A correct song (if not, we would be able to listen to the full album all in one go), but with no punch.
03. Down On Freestreet
04. Better than You
A very rock and roller song with a Chuck Berry style start and a danceable riff. The Hellacopters manage perfectly intensity changes and catch us with a chorus you can’t avoid to sing : “so c’mon… c’mon you wanna get on”.
05. Carry Me Home
The most sticky riff of the album. Very easy and kind, but it accomplishes its role.
Just as it happened with Better than You, who can avoid yelling “Carry Me Home” when the chorus arrives?
A solo a the height of the main riff.
06. Rainy Days revisited
A lesson on how a rock band should do a half-time. A perfect performance of the keyboard player (Anders Lindström a.k.a. Boba Fett), who wins some score in order not to get his hands cut in U.Y.F.S (8th track)
Lyrics and melody dance in perfect harmony.
Little less to be said.
07. It’s Good But It Just Ain’t Right
Clearly the style of the first The Hellacopters: garaje rhythm and melody, but with a clean sound.
Althoug you fell like killing the pianist, it’s a song that really raises one’s spirists. It seems that the “uh-uh-uh-uh” is there to be sung by the audience in concerts.
09. On Time
10. All I’ve Got
11. Go Easy Now
One jewel more. It shows that a simple rhythm can be as powerful as an stylized riff.
12. The Exorcist
The song that closes the album starts with a guitar whining a rock riff, like a lonely howl into the wind. Like it were announcing that the guitar getting ready to give the best of it in what it’s left of the album. And it does, especially in that end that fades out slowly. Like a truck that moves away not slowing down the rhythm, and stays on the climax until the end.
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