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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

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Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.