To be released on March 25, 2022 (Golden Robot Records)
Review by Metal Mike:
So by this point, who doesn’t know Hardcore Superstar (HCSS)? This band from Gothenburg, Sweden first landed on my radar over ten years ago via a Sleaze Roxx review of Dreamin In A Casket. Again in 2010, Split Your Lip hooked me with the band going back to its first release in 1998’s It’s Only Rock n’ Roll. C’mon Take On Me in 2013, HCSS in 2015, and 2018’s You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll are all notches in the band’s storied discography. Ultimately, Abrakadabra is the band’s 12th studio album. There have been a few single releases already before the album drops. I’m not convinced of this strategy, since what’s stopping fans from gorging on the record long before it’s actually released. At any rate, let’s walk through Abrakadabra.
The title track has a decent thematic lead in to a track that lets you know what the album is all about — a touch punk, thrash, and sleaze. It’s getting me pumped for what’s about to come. “Influencer” is a little more mainstream sleaze…. and does have a message to online influencers. “Don’t wanna work, I’ve got my pride. I want my life to be an infinite free ride…”. Yep. “Forever And A Day” has been on YouTube for a couple of months, already garnering over 60,000 views. Check out the video below. One thing about Hardcore Superstar is they know how to do great live videos. This soaring singalong is something they’ve done before with great success, notably from their last album’s title track “You Can’t Kill My Rock n’ Roll” (whichnhas nearly 700,000 views).
“Weep When You Die” works with a very Cult-like riff in the opening and chorus. It seems like there’s more going on in this song than there really should be. Almost like they had four good ideas and crammed them into one song. There’s not much to be said about “Give Me A Smile” as it’s a straight ahead rocker that Hardcore Superstar are known for. Yet “Catch Me If You Can” spins a decent punk riff where guitar and vocals both soar. There is a sloppiness to “One For All” that makes it endearing. Hardcore Superstar play with listeners at times. In the case of “Dreams In Red”, the opening shuffle betrays a much harder edge later on during the verses. “Throwing A Brick” shows off the band’s darker side and how tight they really are. The opening synchronicity does impress, the track is pure sleaze. And at least they saved the requisite acoustic track until the end. It’s not bad. Just not particularly interesting.
There is much to enjoy on Abrakadabra but with a few fillers, as is the case these days. That being said, it’s good listening and any fan of this long lasting icon of Swedish sleaze should be checking it out.
Review by wrestlingepicenter.com:
Hardcore Superstar is a band I’ve had on the peripheral vision for years. I would hear a song either on YouTube or posted on Sleaze Roxx and think, “I really have to check these guys out!” Then, I don’t. Is it ADHD? Is it because their sound sometimes does flirt with modern heaviness so I get cautious and don’t dive in to their catalog deep? Whatever the reason is, the appropriate description now would be “was.”
Last year, I picked up Party Ain’t Over Til We Say So, a best of collection of Hardcore Superstar after being told by Todd Myers that I would love them… I shy away from things people tell me I “would love” because I was told by various people that I would love Kid Rock and Mumford & Sons. Do I need to tell you that I don’t love either and have zero idea why anyone would have ever thought I would? Anyway, I picked up the “Best Of” last year to dip my toe in the Hardcore Superstar water and since then, I’ve picked up a number of their releases. Hey, I might have arrived late at the party but at least I got here, right? So, Abrakadabra was a must-have for me.
I was excited to pick this up as the single I heard first from it was “Catch Me If You Can.” I loved the song and have loved most of the singles presented. After getting it, I think it delivers! The title track “Abrakadabra” has an old school Hardcore Superstar vibe to it. I can hear elements of “We Don’t Need a Cure” in here trying to break out. Don’t tell Chris Jericho but “Influencer” is up next. Jericho has trademarked the term “Influencer” thus proving he is a disciple of Gene Simmons of KISS! The song has a great guitar riff and verse but falls off a bit during the chorus. It clearly is about social media influencers of which we hear so much about. And you thought reality TV gave fame to the undeserving? Social media takes it to the next level.
“Forever And A Day” is up next and might be my favorite song on the album. “Resist to the end”, “I will not back down”. These are the lyrics I look for in my music. It fuels my soul! “Weap When I Die” could just has easily have been “Sleep When I Die.” But, people might draw lines between that title and a Bon Jovi song so maybe it is best if I were to compare this track to the sound of a band from the glory days of rock and roll. I’d have to say it would be The Cult. And, I don’t think that is a hard thing to hear. Very, very cool song with a haunting melody and a heavy verse. That seems to be a trend. “Give Me a Smile” is a good rocker. I don’t hear much by way of a hidden meaning here unless I’m missing it. I’ve seen some reviewers call it “filler.” I like it too much to call it that. But, I can see how they might feel that way.
“Catch Me If You Can” is the reason I bought the album. It is incredible. While I don’t know for sure what the lyrics are about, I would not be stunned to find out it was about breaking the oppressive Covid-19 mandate to get on with living life because life is too short. As someone who was chased around a store or two back when the mandates were enforced, I can see how “Catch Me If You Can” would apply to that! And that, friends, is as political as I’ll get here. “One For All” is another track that I’ve seen called “filler” but I think it might be one of the most catchy songs on the entire album. Great guitar work, great vocals, and catchy lyrics.
“Dreams In Red” was the first song I heard as a single before the album got to me that I thought, “Eh, it isn’t that great.” But, in the sequence of the album, it fits well. I really got into it in the flow of the album a lot more than in a vacuum. “Throw A Brick” and “Fighter” are two solid songs to wrap the album with. I must admit, perhaps due to sequencing, I’ve listened to these two the least but I do like what I hear here. Perhaps just not as much as earlier in the album?
As a whole, hardcore Hardcore Superstar fans will find a lot to like here. Fans who haven’t dove into the catalog much might also enjoy this record a lot as a good starting point. For me, thus far, and we are still kind of early, this is a possible “Album of the Year” contender. With a good Kissin’ Dynamite album already in the conversation which was marred by lyrics that missed the mark with me, a new Black Swan album which ranked high with me previously, Crashdïet‘s new album coming out in just days, and even some veteran artists putting forth some new stuff including Def Leppard who I had given up on ever doing anything new that didn’t stink years ago, there will be a lot to weigh up. But, one thing is for sure, this could be a good year for new rock ‘n’ roll even if it is just us hardcore rock ‘n’ rollers who find it to listen to it.
Word to the wise. I picked up the CD from Amazon.com. It was billed to have the appropriate release date but didn’t arrive on time. In fact, it showed up 10 days late. So, if you are facing upcoming CD release dates and don’t know if you should go for the slightly cheaper Amazon option or direct from the band with either signed stuff or extra merchandise in the bumdle, I’d go with the bundle. You probably will also get it faster. And, you know, also get other cool stuff too!
03. Forever And A Day
04. Weep When You Die
05. Give Me A Smile
06. Catch Me If You Can
07. One For All
08. Dreams In Red
09. Throw A Brick
Joakim “Jocke” Berg – vocals
Martin Sandvik – bass
Magnus “Adde” Andreasson – drums
Vic Zino – guitars
Hardcore Superstar‘s “Forever And A Day” video:
Hardcore Superstar‘s “Fighter” lyric video:
Hardcore Superstar‘s “Weep When You Die” video: