Released: 2013, Nuclear Blast
Hard to believe it has already been three years since the release of the band’s last album, SPLIT YOUR LIP in 2010. That album, with the benefit of hindsight and the listening of the new album, was the culmination of the bands evolution from punkish glam metal to a much tougher and heavier sleaze metal, interlaced with upbeat and melodic parts. The new album draws much more from their poppier and glammier past, but still retains plenty of the heavier moments from the past two albums to reach a logical and welcome hyrbrid of past and present. Criminally unknown in most of the world save for their home country of Sweden, Hardcore Superstar have been at this since 1997. As a result of their relatively obscure world status, Nuclear Blast did virtually no promotion for the new album in North America, and the album is pretty hard to find, not even available in iTunes here in the US. So even though it was released in January, I am only now getting to review it. Hey, I love Crashdïet, Crazy Lixx, Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Dirty Penny and all of the other leading bands in this genre. However, in my own personal opinion, Hardcore Superstar is at the pinnacle of this heap, looking down from a significant height at the others scaling the slopes.
C’MON TAKE ON ME does not start out well though, with a clownish instrumental “Cut The Slack” that is in no way representative of the music to follow. It’s a perplexing lead-off choice and sure to lose a lot of first time listeners should they not choose to skip to the next track, which if you are reading this and listening, you should promptly do. The reason; well, the rest of the album simply kicks ass, particularly the next three songs which represent a formidable trio that rank among the best the band has written over the course of their nine albums. The title track is a party anthem, carried by front man Jocke Berg’s unique shout/sing style that has always been a key element to the band’s sound, particularly the catchy melody lines he uses to carry songs that are often very direct and basic musically. “Above The Law” is the second single from the album and the one chosen for a video, with good reason. It is an infectious foot stomper, the signature track on the album, and one of the best in the band’s career. This is a tune that reveals the heavier emphasis on melody employed by Hardcore Superstar that eludes most traditional sleaze bands.
C’MON TAKE ON ME is mostly an upbeat album but the band does shift momentum on the slower, blues inflected “Stranger of Mine”, breaking out the acoustic guitars, which is something they have been known to do over the past few albums. Impressively, they have managed to maintain the momentum of the first three songs over the course of the entire 12 tracks of the album, although the “I Won’t Take The Blame” is split into two parts and separate tracks, for reasons that are unclear. Production is handled by Juno award winner Randy Staub, who has been involved with some big bands and most recently handled production duties on Alice In Chain’s BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE. Randy gives this album a powerful sound, particularly in the punch of Magnus "Adde" Andreasson’s drums that helps hammer these songs home. It is great to have Hardcore Superstar back with new material, and C’MON TAKE ON ME continues the fine trend of the band’s quality albums. Any fan of this genre of music, particularly fans of Swedish glam, should most definitely enjoy Hardcore Superstar.