Hellacopters By The Grace Of God

These Swedes are arguably one of the most important links in the lifeline of basic, hard underground music over the last ten years and in Europe and Scandinavia their name is basically synonymous with the word "rock.” The question is, after several albums that have gotten progressively more and more cold and laid-back sounding, are they currently just riding on their early/mid-‘90s wild-ass neo-Stooges rep? The answer is basically yes, as their fifth studio full-length, By The Grace of God, shows. To their credit, they have managed to craft a seamless Detroit/Southern-rock hybrid that's easily recognisable as their own. To their detriment, however, is the fact that the main component of this sound is the emotion-free vocal delivery of Nicke Andersson. The problem is that he just sounds so incredibly chilled-out somebody should really check him for a pulse as soon as possible. The repetitious, one-note nature of his voice mixed with the basic structure of the music will have you asking "Is this song pulled from a previous album?" Lastly, and most embarrassingly, when you've got a new song that sounds like Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (track five, "Carry Me Home"), you know you're running out of riffs, so maybe it's time to drop the rock and go make a crazy jazz album or something. (Universal)