Mondo rock stars everywhere else, club-touring indie hopefuls here in the land that birthed rock and roll and then let it crawl out of its cradle like an unwanted bastard and immigrate. What's wrong with this country? At least we've finally got "Rock and Roll Is Dead" coming out domestically, albeit a million years after everyone else got their grubby mitts on it. And the labels wonder why people download so much…
Much has been made of how the 'COPTERS are more rock, less punk these days — hell, on songs like "Leave It Alone", they're positively STONES-ian, while international single "Everything's On TV", arguably the best track on the album, and "Might Come See You Tonight" flirt with everything from CHEAP TRICK to the bubblegummy rock of the first ACE FREHLEY solo record. Some people have pointed out the "southern rock" influence on display — I'm not hearing it, at least not overtly, although I'm sure there's a few stray atoms of OZARK MOUNTAIN DAREDEVILS slyness and SKYNYRD stomp percolating in these guys' collective subconscious.
Mostly you get bar-band redemption, stripped down seventies plastic punk, as enamored of glittery arena rock as they are of the Class of '77 punk rockers who came to destroy it. Maybe the HELLACOPTERS are maturing a bit, writing a song like "Monkeyboy" that's as much ELVIS COSTELLO as TURBONEGRO — but you can't deny how killer the songs are, and how the band is starting to sound like they're comfortable to be in their own skin, growing into their stature as A-list European rock stars.
Songs like "No Angel To Lay Me Away" even display a little classic '60s rock and soul influence, as much as a bunch of pasty Scandinavians can assimilate — these guys' best talent is at making the hoariest rock and roll conventions sound new and interesting again. And not in an ironic way, either, in some sort of unfunny DARKNESS pastiche — Nicke and Company live and breathe this stuff, and respect the source material, and that's one of the things that makes THE HELLACOPTERS stand head and shoulders above so many other pretenders to the rock throne.
"Rock and Roll Is Dead" comes out January 24, 2006 in the USA with audio and video bonus tracks, which were not disclosed to us at press time. But even without all that, the only irony these guys deal in is dispatched quickly with their album title. These thirteen songs are testament to the fact that rock and roll has never been better, and for those who seek it out, nothing about it will ever go out of style. Now how about we quit looking like chumps, get these guys over here for a proper tour, and make 'em the worldwide superstars they were supposed to be all along?