There's been a lot of hype about Swedish rock during the past couple of
years. The bands that have managed to make a dent stateside have built
their reputations by playing melodic pop. Take, for example, the dreamy
kitsch of Komeda or the sexy hooks of the Cardigans. This is not
surprising, considering the fact that Abba is Sweden's most famous
As hard rock re-enters the mainstream, a vastly different blend of
Swedish music has begun to grab a shred of the international limelight.
Therefore it is not surprising that Frank Kozik's indie label, Man's
Ruin, has unleashed the punk-driven garage rock of the Hellacopters on
an unsuspecting public.
The Hellacopters are more likely to kick over bubblegum machines than to
manufacture the contents of said machines. Since 1994, the band has been
damaging eardrums across Europe with a thick blend of amphetamine-soaked
rock (more aptly pronounced r-a-w-k) 'n' roll. According to legend,
after releasing a couple of limited-edition seven-inches in '95, the
Hellacopters recorded their debut album, Super Shitty To The Max,
in just 26 hours, in early 1996. It is this Swedish Grammy-winning
record (no, I'm not kidding) that Kozik and company have repackaged and
Super Shitty is an inspired homage to the bands that have
influenced the Hellacopters. More than a trace of the Stooges, MC5, Kiss
(for whom the band opened on a recent European tour), Social Distortion,
Van Halen, and Rocket From The Crypt can be found amongst the album's 13
tracks. The record swaggers and sways with a crash 'n' burn mentality.
Passive civil disobedience is a lyrical theme, as frontman Nicke sings,
screams, and rants about unemployment, partying, rebellion and just
plain wasting time.
The album kicks off with an anthemic call to arms, "(Gotta Get Some
Action) NOW!" Built around the chorus of "Gotta-gotta-go-go light up the
ignition/ Gotta Kill the Sacred Cow/ Please spare me all your futuristic
visions/ 'Cuz I gotta get some action/ Gotta get some action now," the
tune is the perfect introduction to the dense mayhem that comprises the
Hellacopters' sound. The adrenaline rush never
dwindles as the band thuds through a number of straightforward garage-
punk tunes including "24 h Hell" and "Such A Blast"; a
testosterone-induced stab at rockabilly ("Fire Fire Fire"); and a couple
of sludge-driven head-bangers ("How Could I Care" and "Ain't No Time").
Super Shitty is not an attempt to rewrite rock music history.
However, few bands today are capable of copping the attitude that the
Hellacopters thrust forth so effortlessly. As a result, the record is a
convincing debut that -- even today, three years after its initial
release -- proves to be inspiring.