Strikes Like Lightning
Universal Music, 2004
REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/21/2004
Born in celebration of the Hellacopters' ten years of existence, the six song EP release of Strikes Like Lightning punctuated a recent November anniversary party held by the band in their hometown of Stockholm, Sweden.
Judging by the artwork of this album in comparison with the band's last full length release, By The Grace Of God, and coupled with the fact that the Hellacopters have been on a near year recording and touring hiatus, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that these songs were the scraps left over from that 2002 effort. So, maybe I'm just an overly skeptical sort but I can tell you that this was my thought before recently picking up a copy of this E.P. Based on my previous review of the By The Grace Of God album on this website it should be easy to see why I would be wary of such a connection.
Knee-jerk reactions are only occasionally as painful as the term suggests. So it's fortunate that I am finding that Strikes Like Lightning has plenty of moments that differentiate it from its largely sterile predecessor.
Vocally speaking, most of the songs on this album have Nicke Andersson sounding rather pop-stream in his delivery. From my perspective that might sound like a bummer, but I can positively say that outside of "A View From Nowhere" each time it looks like Andersson is getting complacent with such a stagnant vocal pitch, some new dynamic such as a biting guitar riff steers the song into a more interesting direction. Additionally, the complacent approach in "A View From Nowhere" falls into a short but sweet handclap procession that ups the track's boogie factor -- even if only for a brief spell.
By and large though, the Hellacopters have come up with some riffs on this release that up the overall tempo and vibe when compared to By The Grace Of God. In addition to feeling rather soulful while listening to the wooo-oooh's from the backing vocals on "Blinded By The Light," the well defined bass line on "Fiends And Frankensteins" and the continual upbeat tempo found on the song "On The Line" tempt me to want to rock out a bit.
All in all, Strikes Like Lightning is a pretty solid E.P. effort. Not in the way that the Hellacopters' Disappointment Blues has been etched into my perpetual consciousness but in a manner that attempts to throw the band's sound back a notch to the days before By The Grace Of God was recorded and released. I'm not even sure there is a real bonafide hit on Strikes Like Lightning even though "Turn The Wrong Key" will probably have me one day taking a step back to reconsider this claim.
In conclusion, I can say to Hellacopters fans that it is safe to knee jerk at the sight and realization that there are some obvious similarities between Strikes Like Lightning and By The Grace Of God. At worst, a mild sprain might develop in doing such a thing; at best you'll probably be like me and set your music player on repeat mode and walk away from the player.
As a sidenote, the band in characteristic fashion has also released Strikes Like Lightning as a part of a deluxe box set (three 7" records) with other assorted trinkets on November 30. Limited to 3,000 copies worldwide on Sweet Nothing Records, the lack of any real weakness on these songs will surely make the box set an essential addition to all vinyl-philes collections. Pick one up now before it's too late.