High Visibility

The Hellacopters

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High Visibility Review

by Jason Hundey

When Entombed drummer/songwriter Nicke Andersson left after Wolverine Blues to pursue his rock side project, the Hellacopters, on a full-time basis, a deep void was left in the band (even if Uprising was a pleasant surprise). Go back and investigate -- Andersson wrote a massive proportion of the lyrics and music on the first three Entombed releases, but his talent was kept secret behind the invisible wall of the drum kit. High Visibility silences all debates on Andersson's prolific talent, as it ushers in the rebirth of Michigan-styled rock à la the MC5, the Stooges, and Sonic's Rendezvous Band. After the sloppy sludge rock masterpiece Supershitty to the Max!, the 'Copters flirted with straightforward, raw '70s rock appeal, succeeding on one album, Payin' the Dues, and failing on the other, Grande Rock. Something dramatic happened on Payin' the Dues, though, when they covered the seminal Detroit classic "City Slang" from Sonic's Rendezvous Band and even had one of the band's members, Scott Morgan, perform on a few cuts of the bonus live disc. This paved the way for the Detroit-worshiping, supremely superior sound of High Visibility. Andersson and the gang have found their chops in a sense, as the drummer suddenly became one of rock (and metal's) top vocalists today, with his raw bluesy style well intact, along with some added Rob Younger (Radio Birdman, New Christs) leanings for delicious icing. Speaking of Andersson and growth, the guitar playing has entered the realm of a Hendrix/Wayne Kramer hybrid with a certain Ace Frehley/Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) attitude of playing. "Toys and Flavors," the album's first single and catchiest song, features a solo that will go down as one of the most legendary solos of the early millennium, as the ghost of Hendrix possesses him, recalling moments from "All Along the Watchtower." "Hopeless Case of a Kid in Denial" and "No One's Gonna Do It for You" are two of the other standout tracks. The first features some brutally catchy acoustic undertones that give the song some killer propulsion, while the fuzzed-out guitars duel with the exquisitely subtle grand piano playin' of Boba Fett, as Andersson's strange melodic rasps recall John Bush's finer moments. The second is a mellow jam tune with a talking, wistful solo from Andersson and companion guitarist Robert Dahlqvist. "No Song Unheard" is a relaxed, heartfelt rock ballad with emotive lyrics and vocals; it doesn't fall prey to the typical conventions of the ballad since it retains its edge and ability to cut loose, as is evidenced by Andersson's brilliant guitar sermon. Connections with Detroit are again solidified with the Scott Morgan co-penned "Hurtin' Time" and the MC5-drenched "I Wanna Touch" -- a lost descendant of their seminal classic "American Ruse." Screw Spiritual Beggars, Firebird, and all the other '70s rock revivalist bands springing up; the Hellacopters aren't reviving anything -- they're possessed with the spirit of it, and damn does it sound sweet.

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