Review: Hardcore Superstar – Abrakadabra
Gain (March 25th, 2022)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Veteran sleaze rockers Hardcore Superstar have returned with another new album that’s sure to please their hardcore fans (pun intended). ‘Abrakadabra‘ takes the band’s sound in a slightly different and surprising direction while still maintaining all the aspects that make-up the familiar HS sound. They don’t stray too far from their comfort zone but certainly spreading their wings.
Let’s start with the familiar. The album opens with the title track and has that usual synth arrangements heard before on other releases before kicking in with an aggressive, thumping rocker about living one life during the day and transitioning into the night. It’s a solid opener for sure and will certainly be the song to open future shows. Then there’s first single ‘Catch Me If You Can’, which is classic HS. The fastest track on the album and most reminiscent of what came before from the band.
While other songs on the album are heavy, stylistically the album is more groove oriented with less aggression and sleaze. Singles such as ‘Weep When You Die’ and ‘Dreams in Red’ show off that slight change in direction. I noticed the prominence of the bass lines provided by Martin Sandvik. In both songs, his rhythms practically take the lead and drive the song forward. Both songs shake things up in all the right ways. Then there’s ‘Fighter’, an acoustic-based ballad, which I think is a first for the band (not counting any acoustic versions of songs recorded as bonus tracks). An interesting choice for the band as the lyrics portray a song that seems to have initially been written to be a rocker before the band chose to take it in this direction. If you just read the lyrics, you would not think the song would sound the way it does, but it offers a nice change of pace and a decent conclusion due to it’s placement at the album’s end.
I am happy to report the throaty, aggressive, gang vocal melodies (a core element of the band’s sound) are still intact. My two favorite tracks are built on the strength of that component. ‘Give Me a Smile’ has a punchiness similar to the Queen of the Stone Age’s track No One Knows in the main melody line. The songs don’t sound similar, but they both have those short, rhythmic notes with tiny bits of dead space in between that creating a thumping beat that, when timed with the equally punchy drums, make you want to bang your head in synchronicity. ‘One For All’ has my favorite chorus arrangement and is as good as the best classic tracks from the band. It’s got the type of rhythm that will make you step harder on the pedal if you’re driving, so be warned.
Of special note is the continued humor that pops up on many of their albums. Reminiscent lyrically of past songs like ‘Guestlist’ and ‘Have Mercy On Me’, ‘Influencer’ takes the piss out of people trying to become famous by begging people to follow them and give them money for their “talent”
So how does this album compare to all the other Hardcore Superstar albums? While I never cared for their early releases, I’ve loved most of their albums since their self-titled album was released in 2005 (2015’s HCSS was a misstep for me). Of those beloved albums, there are a few tracks on each that I would skip over when re-playing the album. Perhaps because this is one of their shortest releases (10 tracks coming in at a tight 39 minutes), I would say this is one of their most consistent albums. While it’s slightly less sleaze rock and more groove-oriented hard rock, it’s not too outside the box of what made people fans of the band. Glad to see the band continue to progress and surprise fans with something familiar but still fresh and new. Another essential purchase for me.