By the Grace of God

The Hellacopters

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By the Grace of God Review

by Rick Kutner

Easily their best and most consistent work to date, By the Grace of God from Sweden's garage rock stalwarts the Hellacopters is a flawless collection of anthemic soulful rock songs from start to finish. Picking up where 2001's High Visibility left off, By the Grace of God continues to show singer/guitarist Nicke Andersson's transformation from a mere garage punk with a great sense of melody into one hell of a songwriter. In fact, the group as a whole has grown tighter as a unit and loosened up in the process, which ultimately has made them more confident musicians. The lightening fast and fluid fret work of Robert "Strings" Dahlqvist recalls the soul and attack of Ted Nugent in his prime, playing every note and riff like it was his last. Drummer Robert Eriksson plays his kit with machine gun precision, and bass man Kenny Håkansson, who lays down perfect melodic grooves that hold each song together like super glue, and keyboardist Anders "Bobba Fett" Lindström's piano and organ work is the icing on the cake. The impeccable production courtesy of Chips Kiesbye (High Visibility) is a big part of what makes this record work so well. With its big guitars and widescreen sound By the Grace of God would equally please fans of classic '70s arena rock as it would fans of their earlier, rawer Detroit-influenced material. Such tracks as "Carry Me Home," "Rainy Day Revisited," and "Go Easy Now" are infectious and edgy enough so that they wouldn't be out of place on a trendy alternative rock station wedged between a Foo Fighters song and a Vines song. The 13 tracks off By the Grace of God are also soulful and timeless enough that they could be heard following tunes by rock legends such as Thin Lizzy or Cheap Trick on any classic rock station. Not to say Stockholm's finest have lost their edge; on the contrary, they've only sharpened and refined it. The title track "By the Grace of God" instantly goes for the throat as does "It's Good but It Just Ain't Right" in classic Hellacopters fashion. While other bands of their ilk continue to release virtually the same record year after year, the Hellacopters have grown with each subsequent release, maturing into a great rock band transcending scenes and fads. The Hellacopters have truly outdone themselves on By the Grace of God and proven that the term "classic rock" doesn't only apply to bands of days gone by, and gives hope to those who still love great rock & roll.

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