The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages


Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, July 9, 2004, Music

If the mechanics of millennial metal are Seventies vintage (Young Heart Attack = Humble Pie), then Sweden's Hellacopters gyrate like UFO. It's the piano mostly, commingling with acoustic underpinnings ("Rainy Days Revisited"), and Nicke Andersson's anthemic tenor, which, like old Phil Mogg's vox, is the titanium casing on this arena rocket. And as with Michael Schenker, the quintet's two guitarists act as a melodic third rail, the whole of By the Grace of God (Liquor & Poker) struck by lightning. 2002's poppier High Visibility was an abrupt exit off the scorched blacktop of 1999's Payin' the Dues, and now on the group's fifth LP, the two paradigms exhilarate "Carry Me Home," "It's Good but It Just Ain't Right," and "All I've Got." Lights out. Philly trio Burning Brides Leave No Ashes (V2) to shift through on their sophomore release, Seventies metal shot through Nineties Northwest punk (Foo Fighters-ish "Alternative Teenage Suicide"). Dimitri Coats' bellowing conviction on the title cut ("toilet paper baby when you cry, 'cause you're so full of shit it's coming out your eye ...") turns equally soulful on "Last Man Standing." Velvet Revolver's Contraband (RCA) packs a sturdy recoil, equal parts GNR and STP, but it's mostly Russian roulette: a lot of empty chambers. "Slither" is a reminder that the latter band was an Alice in Chains rip-off, while Slash, poorly produced, still burns ("Spectacle," "Set Me Free"), so blame droning, self-proclaimed "junkie piece of shit" Scott Weiland, has-been that he is. Same Achilles' heel on Richmond, Va.'s Alabama Thunderpussy, whose new Fulton Hill (Relapse) replaces the Hetfield-lite of previous singer Johnny Throckmorton with grinder Johnny Weils. The band's liquid sixth gear remains thunderous when not trying to sound strangely commercial: Crazy Horse ("Three Stars"), STP or GNR ("Alone Again"), and even acoustic ("Do Not"). No danger of such for labelmates Zeke on 'Til the Livin' End (Relapse), 15 songs in 30 full-throttle Motörhead minutes. The Seattle trio pays homage to their classic forebears in song titles ("Long Train Running"), while producer Jack Endino oils down the speedway sounds. Consider "The Hammer" dropped. Michigan's Paik spaces a third of the songs at double the time on Satin Black (Strange Attractors), disc four for the trio. With sand-blown instrumentals more blurred than bludgeoning, time 'n' space become Floydian. The Scorpions started out spacey, and while disc one of the 3-CD Box of Scorpions (Hip-O) is short on '72 debut Lonesome Crow, overall the set upgrades the previous 2-CD Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years. That the third disc is highlighted by a symphonic collaboration on "Rock You Like a Hurricane," however, may well neutralize any gains made. Black out.

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