In the late ‘80s critics suggested that Minneapolis’ Replacements were the saviors of rock and roll. Equal parts punk rebellion, sugar-pop and alcohol, the mighty ‘Mats wrecked everything in their paths for 10 years before giving up the ghost to gutless balladry and substance abuse. No one stepped in to fill their shoes. Then came Sweden’s Hellacopters.
Payin’ the Dues is the moment that punk makes uneasy peace with the ‘70s arena rock it originally set out to destroy. And to tell the truth there’s more Judas Priest here than Pistols or Dead Boys. Which isn’t a slag against their attitude (they’ve got plenty—“we know where the action is/getting away with our asses kissed”) or their conviction. Those things are never in question. The Hellacopters just, like, rock more than punk usually allows. Traditionalists will most likely find themselves alienated by incessant metal riffola and campy lyrics (“it’s four in the morning/and we don’t give a fuck.”) But that might be the ‘Copter’s intention. This isn’t a metal album for punks. It’s a punk album for metalheads.
For historians, Payin’ the Dues picks up where The Dwarves and New Bomb Turks left off- infusing punk slop and swagger with classic rock sensibility. And while The Hellacopters never approach the reckless violence of the Dwarves or the Turk’s pure-punk spirit they manage to find a middle ground their peers never discovered—accessibility. Which isn’t to say this shit is safe or pedestrian, it’s just familiar enough to remind you that you really did have fun at the AC/DC concert you saw before you shaved your head and traded your bong for Guinness.
The bottom line? Neither punk or rock has sounded this fresh in years. The irony? The Hellacopter’s prove how great Kiss really was.
Stand Out Tracks: Like No Other Man, Hey!, Where the Action Is
Bonus: Two Disc set (studio and live) for regular price.
"PopMatters is looking for smart music writers. We're looking for talented writers with deep genre knowledge of music and its present and…READ the article