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Hardcore Superstar: HCSS

Sleazy Swedes give old-school metal a kick in the ass.

Before The Darkness, before Steel Panther, before Reckless Love, Sweden’s Hardcore Superstar began rocking seven shades of sweat-soaked spandex out of those vintage 1980s sleaze-metal clichés.

Together almost two decades, the Gothenburg quartet’s tenth album is billed as a return to their mid 1990s roots and sounds exactly as you would expect, from groin-squeezing Sunset Strip riff-squealers like Don’t Mean Shit and Party Til I’m Gone to more thoughtful midtempo epics like Fly, which slowly build from a bluesy churn into a tumescent arena anthem complete with Slash-style speedflash guitar solo.

These single-minded Swedes are clearly limited by their devotion to genre and era, though they do stray into more spangled, expansive, prog-lite terrain on The Ocean and Growing Old. This impassioned retro conservatism is a key selling point, but ultimately an Achilles heel too.

Likewise their apparent unawareness of their own absurdity, though they sometimes succeed in being accidentally hilarious on lost-in-translation aggro-rockers like Off With Their Heads: ‘You got some nerve telling me how to shine/I’ll put my foot up your ass ‘cos you’re way out of line’. Pure poetry. Mötley Crüe would be proud./o:p