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Hardcore Superstar - 'HCSS' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/80/ac/75/Hardcore-Superstar-HCSS-24-1439319011.jpg Hot

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Simply a testament to HS's remarkable creative capacity.

It's more of a privilege than anything to be able to review 'HCSS', the brand new album from Swedish band, Hardcore Superstar. This latest offering, album number ten in a history dating back to 1997, is simply a testament to HS's remarkable creative capacity, their musical spark and flair and their ability to renew themselves and surprise their fans without ever losing their trademark sound.

'HCSS' has been hailed as a return to the band's 1998 sound. 'Don't Mean Shit' doesn't have the heaviness of the later albums and the similar-sounding, 'Party 'Til I'm Gone', makes great use of veiled vocals and contrasting tempo with the guitar; both hark back to the sound of days gone by, think albums 'It's Only Rock n Roll' (1998) and 'Bad Sneakers' (2000). This is no play-safe repeat however. 'The Cemetery' has a 'London Calling'-type beat and Jocke Berg's ability to turn on the swagger through just his vocals adds a whole lot of style. His skill as a front-man is not just in his ridiculously entertaining live performances; 'Off With Their Heads' shows the confidence and depth his vocals have in his particularly unique, guttural sound.

'Fly' opens with a very live-like raw sound. The track takes on a much more of a Doors-style than you might be expecting, diverse in tonality and texture. Seven minute tracks are usually reserved for overblown ballads but for HS it's a chance to knock out some deep bass riffs and Uriah Heep-esque bursts of chorus. 'The Ocean' is where we get the Sleazier sound of HS, so synonymous with the later albums. Berg again shows great style in turning teasing, almost mocking. 'Touch The Sky' practically pulses with beat and effective backing vocals; this is the anthemic song with a head-banging riff if you were looking for one.

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It's not a flawless album; some of the songs are less distinct, most notably 'Glue' and the bold 'Messed Up For Sure'. The rewind-effect on the final track seemed out of place but it does, at least, relate to the overall circular theme of returning to the 1998 sound. The absence of a true ballad is notable, but not to any serious negative effect.

It would be hard for any reviewer not to compare 'HCSS' to the nine albums that precede it; they are, after all, all commendable in some way. 'HCSS' doesn't feel like a landmark album but it merely makes HS's job of choosing a set-list for the upcoming tour harder because there are songs here that deserve a place. The real success of Hardcore Superstar is in creating yet another album, rammed with musical talent, which their fans will love.

Sophie Brownlee

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