Released: Apr 21, 2015
Genre: Glam Metal, Hard Rock
Label: Gain Music Entertainment
Number Of Tracks: 10
Hardcore Superstar attempt to come full circle with their new album "HCSS," but ultimately find themselves in stylistic disarray.
HCSSFeatured review by: UG Team, on april 30, 2015 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: After spending the past the better part of the past two decades developing a modernized take on the guitar-oriented hard rock sound of the 1980s, the members of Swedish sleaze rockers Hardcore Superstar alarmed some longtime listeners upon the announcement that the band would revisiting their roots during the making of their tenth studio effort. Considering it was over the period of their 18 years of activity as a band that Hardcore Superstar were able to formulate their own distinctive take on the genre, many dedicated fans were frankly uncertain what the rock group had in mind when they planned out a return-to-form with their new album, however that enigma has since been clarified as the members of Hardcore Superstar revisiting a collection of demo recordings that were originally captured during the earlier years.
The end result found on the newly released "HCSS" shows the rock group abandoning the street metal edge which appeared on such recent outings as "C'mon Take on Me" and "Split Your Lip" in favor of a predominantly hard rock sound similar to what's featured on Hardcore Superstar's 2003 studio album "No Regrets." Perhaps the most dramatic progression or change in the band's style is that a significant emphasis has been placed on introducing punk rock elements into their approach, such as what is first introduced with the opening track "Don't Mean Sh-t." The performance is set to an adrenalized pace with high top snare leading the way while lead vocalist Jocke Berg belts out some rather impressive vocal harmonies during the refrain, but the guitars end up being lost in the mix and ultimately draws most of the fire away from the song as a whole.
This lack of an emphasis on the otherwise solid guitar stylings of Vic Zino soon becomes a reoccurring trend throughout the album, as we find on such selections as "Party 'Til I'm Gone." When the hard rock grooves of the record aren't being directed to the bottom of the composition they're absent altogether, which ends up derailing the entire album. "The Cemetery" presents a bizarre power pop riff that's followed by Berg adopting a similarly unpresented snarl to his voice that clashes heavily with the aforementioned numbers. "Off With Their Heads" is a more familiar anthemic track that begins to show a move in the right direction but unfortunately still fails to rekindle the high octane flames that familiar listeners are accustomed to hearing from Hardcore Superstar.
However, it's when we reach the eerie sound effects which open out "Growing Old" that would honestly sound more at home on a house music track that "HCSS" really loses whatever hold it had on the listener. "Glue" attempts to come full circle by reintroducing elements of the punk rock-derived feel from the opening number, however particularly falls flat when the band attempts to alternate between that sound and punching palm-muted metal rhythm guitar. // 5
Lyrics: As any familiar listener can help elaborate, Hardcore Superstar's Jocke Berg is an exceptional lead vocalist with an impressive range to boot, but it isn't put to proper consistent use throughout the album. His work on the first track "Don't Mean Sh-t" easily stands as one of his better vocal performances and if not for the almost intentional abandonment of their guitar player would likely stand as a formidable Hardcore Superstar anthem, even considering the punk rock influences. There are plenty of albums from established groups that showcase stylistic alterations and attempts to revitalize their approach by introducing new elements, and often times the end result is tied together with the band's previous efforts by the vocal performance from their frontman. Unfortunately that isn't the case on "HCSS"; when the rest of the lineup attempts to move into reggae and punk territory, Berg similarly attempts to throw in a different style of lyrical execution into the batch, which ultimately makes for a harsh compilation. // 6
Overall Impression: An attempt to come full circle from a band who had already issued several solid hard rock records in recent years just didn't work well in the case of the new effort from Hardcore Superstar, "HCSS." While there were good intentions behind this album, it just comes to show that sometimes it's important to remain true to the stylistic progression that you've developed over the past two decades. // 5