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C’mon Take On Me

Nuclear Blast (2013)
Rating: 7/10

With the recent trend toward classic glam sounds being reintroduced into mainstream metal, it’s easy to forget that some of the bands that are embracing the sound of their lipstick-stained predecessors have been at this for quite a while. Sweden’s Hardcore Superstar are among the rock veterans that are using the classic sounds of the 1980s to make their mark in the modern metal market.

If you’re familiar with the band’s mix of glam and thrash sounds then you’ll find more of what you expect on Hardcore Superstar’s ninth studio album, C’mon Take On Me. Somewhere between the street metal of early Mötley Crüe and the mature rock sound of Tesla or Faster Pussycat’s releases around 1991 is where Hardcore Superstar takes their stand, offering a fresh take on a timeless sound.

To be fair, C’mon Take On Me doesn’t start well. Opening track ‘Cutting The Slack’ is a bit of cheesy keyboard circus music that brings to mind the opening themes of the Re-Animator or Puppet Master movie franchises. Thirty seconds of this would be sufficient, but as the two-minute mark passes, this becomes extremely annoying.

Thankfully, it’s followed by the album’s title track, a rocker that delivers the sleazy hard rock we all expect from Hardcore Superstar. ‘C’mon Take On Me’ opens with big guitars and a metal scream from vocalist Joakim “Jocke” Berg. At this point this release is back on track, and continues in fine form for several songs. Huge, melodic hooks abound. The title track and the following ‘One More Minute’ sport arena rock choruses that remind me that behind all the eye shadow and blush of the 80s were seriously catchy songs. By the end of the third track the sins of the opening salvo are all but forgotten.

There are many high points on C’mon Take On Me. ‘Above The Law (Don’t Care At All)’ is a solid rocker firmly planted in the street metal tradition. ‘Are You Gonna Cry Now?’ brings out the thrash power that was more prominent on the band’s earlier releases, and adds muscle to the melodic rock that has been honed to near perfection on this release. ‘Stranger Of Mine’ is a bluesy ballad featuring a haunting acoustic rhythm guitar foundation. ‘Too Much Business’ taps into the power that made Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction (1987) a monster, and the opening riffs drip classic Guns N’ Roses attitude. Closing track ‘Long Time No See’ starts slow, but builds into a rocker that brings to mind Hanoi Rocks. All in all, there are some excellent songs represented on C’mon Take On Me.

As with most releases, not every song is a jewel, and some definitely shine brighter than others. Aside from the abysmal opening track, some songs just don’t seem to fit as well as others. ‘Won’t Take The Blame Pt. 2 (Sect Meeting)’ is a confusing addition to the album, as it seems to be nearly two minutes of the band playing with all the various ways it’s possible to play the chorus from the previous track, ‘Won’t Take The Blame Pt. 1’. It doesn’t add much to the song it extends, and becomes repetitive enough to be grating.

While there are some ill-conceived moments, C’mon Take On Me is about 80% high quality rock, and there are songs on here that stick with you for days on end. I can’t get enough of my favourite songs on this album, and keep coming back to several of them on a daily basis. Well done, Hardcore Superstar.

Jim McDonald

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