THE HELLACOPTERS – Eyes Of Oblivion (2022)
Swedish high energy rockers THE HELLACOPTERS return with a new studio album titled “Eyes Of Oblivion“, containing absolutely addictive tunes with all of the juicy riffs and in-your-face swagger you could’ve possibly hoped for, topped off with cool hooks that won’t leave your head any time soon.
Produced by Nicke Andersson & Chips Kisbye (who has overseen every Hellacopters album since “High Visibility” in the year 2000), it will be the band’s first full-length since the release of their temporary farewell record “Head Off” in 2008.
Considered one of the most important and influential Swedish rock bands ever, they have achieved two Gold certifications, won the Swedish Grammy and a Kerrang! Award, have amassed 100 million streams to date and have supported and toured with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Kiss, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top and the Foo Fighters.
The Hellacopters rode in on eventually impounded when audiences asked, “why do we need more rock that sounds like this?” Whatever throwback appeal that existed for a song like opener “Reap A Hurricane” has long passed on. Its vitality depends entirely on songwriting, which the track has in spades. The riffs sound as natural and electrifying, and Nicke Andersson’s voice hits as hard as ever.
The following “Can It Wait” achieves a similar effect, with the band transcending generic riffs with some tasteful rhythmic coordination. Every instrument feels necessary to the song’s impact.
Where many bands of this nature end up centering on the frontman for than the whole band’s input, The Hellacopters display their versatility by following up the bluesy sway and soulful croonings of “So Sorry I Could Die” with the uproarious leads and battle-cry choruses of the title track.
The former’s more slow-burning vibe gives more credence to Anders Lindström’s keyboards and piano chops, while the latter almost comes off like a garage-rock version of the best trad metal. That’s honestly the best way to describe the driving percussion and infectious melodies – think a gritty, dirst version of Judas Priest or Scorpions.
Such a combination might bring Motörhead to mind, and drummer Matz Robert Eriksson’s galloping beat certainly starts “A Plow And A Doctor” to that effect.
But really, The Hellacopters aren’t trying to embody one era of rock or metal music. They pick and choose based on what their arrangements need. The more acoustic bounce and resonated strains of “The Pressure’s On” mix quite well with the driving rhythm section, giving Andersson to evolve his hooks naturally with surprisingly dense chord progressions.
The only newcomer in the The Hellacopters at this point is bassist Dolf DeBorst. Everyone else is either a founding member, or been in the band long enough for it to feel that way.
Songs like “Positively Not Knowing” display the confidence of a band who still loves making noise together after a few decades, especially the guitar interplay between Andersson and Dregen. They knew exactly when to keep riding a riff, and when to shake things up with a key change or a harmony.
Take “Beguiled” for instance, which comes through with a rousing harmonized lead for otherwise straightforward power-pop vibes. These guys know just how to push their songwriting toward metal, while remaining true in their garage roots.
It honestly takes courage to throw the Tom Scholz / Boston-esque shuffle of “Tin Foil Soldier” into the 2022 musical landscape. The song’s ascending guitar licks and jubilant hooks are suitably danceable, even if it’s the most obvious retro-core moment on the record. To their credit, The Hellacopters don’t sound like they’re trying to resurrect classic rock music.
Perhaps that’s what makes closing cut “Try Me Tonight” easier to get behind than the usual classic rock aesthetic. It sounds like these guys simply write the music they like, making every performance distinct: from the bombastic piano slides, to the empowered chugs and bass harmonies that close out the record.
As rip-roaring as this album can sound, it’s really the small things that make ”Eyes of Oblivion fun” – such as the nuanced speed up in the album’s last passage. It harks back to a time before everything became grid-locked… when a band could just play, pushing the time as they feel.
The Hellacopters clearly still like what they do, and have the means to do what they like. As long as both are true, a new record from Sweden’s finest garage music can’t be a bad thing.
01 – Reap A Hurricane
02 – Can It Wait
03 – So Sorry I Could Die
04 – Eyes Of Oblivion
05 – A Plow And A Doctor
06 – Positively Not Knowing
07 – Tin Foil Soldier
08 – Beguiled
09 – The Pressure’s On
10 – Try Me Tonight
Nicke Andersson: lead vocals, guitars, bass, piano
Matz Robert Eriksson: drums, percussion, vocals
Anders Lindström: organ, piano, guitars, backing vocals
Dregen: guitars, percussion, vocals
Dolf DeBorst: bass, backing vocals