Review Summary: The Hellacopters go out with a bang, but not as much as had been hoped.
The Hellacopters are officially dead. The announcement was made on the 12th October last year, that the band would go their seperate ways after their seventh full length album, this one, making the cover and title of this album and their last(Rock And Roll Is Dead
) strangely fitting. To add to the controversy, the album is also comprised entirely of covers of other band’s songs. However it is extremely difficult to tell just by listening to the songs themselves, for they are all distinctly Hellacopters. That is to say, they are all straight rock n’ roll, which is basically the Hellacopters entire career in a nutshell. By The Grace Of God
showed their ability as musicians, Rock And Roll Is Dead
showed their ability as songwriters. Head Off
is merely the "farewell album”.
With such experience in one genre, the band members are of course experts of their craft, and each member is well suited to his instrument and the rest of the band. The vocals soar, the guitars surge, the bass rumbles and the drums pound. As with much rock and roll music, the guitars are the main instrumental focus, planting solos and leads all over the record. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it never leaves space for the other instruments to really take the limelight. While the drums have the odd fill to connect different portions of the song, which slightly improves things, the bass never takes off. It’s clearly there, but for the majority, it is just mirroring the guitar lines. This is made all the more bitter by the fact that these riffs are still excellent, and Kenny Håkansson really could and should show what he’s got.
A surprising amount has been fit into songs that only average a couple of minutes, the longest being just under four. As a result, the album feels a lot longer that it’s 44 minute duration. This could best be compared to a slow-mo effect in films, where everything for the character slows down but they are in fact moving faster. The album is crammed to the brim with hooks, punchy riffs and of course, ripping solos. Therein lays its greatest appeal. The album shows great technicality while also being ridiculously catchy. There is also enough variety throughout to keep the album interesting and keep it from going stale. Nevertheless, it is also the albums greatest weakness. While there is substance there, it is not sufficient. It remains the album that would only be taken for a quick spin every now and then, and keeps the album from being truly great, similar to Dream Theater’s work, but the Hellacopters can escape some of the way out of that hole by still being very gratifying. That does not save this from just being that album that evacuates your memory a few hours after listening.
Nevertheless, this album is a very enjoyable experience. Electrocute
was elected to be the opener, despite the fact that almost every song would begin the album on the right foot. It is a message of intent with a strong chorus, sexual lyrics, dual solos and even branches out with a piano break. Midnight Angels
slows things down slightly but the effect and mood remains the same. It is worth saying that the third track (I’m) Watching You
contains one of the most effective intro hooks on the whole album, and obviously there are a lot of those. After that, the album never really lets up, and the quality remains constant throughout.
All in all, Head Off
is a great closer to a great career. Those who love their rock music will love this album. It is basically the tried and tested formula again, but fans of the Hellacopters will definitely have no quarrel with that. The band have retained their refreshing nature from the past, despite the fact that all the songs are covers. The only problem being, it could have been so much more. It could have been the release the band would be remembered for, years from now. Even so, without them, Rock n’ roll is one step closer to actually being dead.