Sleaze metal heroes Hardcore Superstar lead the new music charge this week and we take a look at their latest offering. Plus we review and rate My Chemical Romance, Agalloch, Kid Rock, Orden Ogan and Stratovarius.

My Chemical Romance – Danger Days (Warner Bros.)

The kings of teenage emotion rock are back. Or are they? Once ridiculed for being the ring leaders of the ‘emo’ generation, Gerard Way and co. return with an equally explosive and intriguing follow up to Black Parade.

Danger Days sends us to the not too distant future of 2019, where an evil corporation has taken control and the only hope is the Fabulous Killjoys (MCR). A fascinating concept that, quite thankfully, pays off in dividends.

Gone is the majority of teenage angst and frequent growls to make way for a futuristic and more adult sounding rock. Pleasingly the anthemic sound that My Chemical Romance so easily create is still here in abundance, making it easily transferable for their fantastic live sets.

First single Na Na Na is irritatingly catchy and the video is worth checking out on Youtube for what can only be described as a warped version of Mad Max. The best track on the album without doubt is SING, managing to capture all the previous albums character but all grown up. Almost like catching a glimpse of one of your school mates after that rebel phase…

It’s a tired cliché that bands grow up with each new album but it’s a turn of phrase that has to be used. The storytelling lyrics of Way when combined with Iero, Way and Toro’s masterful music ensemble lead to a remarkable result.

The mix of electro and rock is normally an acquired taste that would disgruntle die-hard fans but the blend should be subtle enough to snare in a new demographic. The most impressive aspect of the album is the lyrical wit of Way. Vampire Money serves as two fingers to teenage fantasy Twilight. DESTROYA and S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W provide layers of emotion and rock to add substance to a first-class effort.

Interlocked with messages from strange pirate radio presenter Dr. Death Defying, the whole album never strays from its mission and message, something that should be commended. The album works as an EP or individual tracks, a rare treat that shouldn’t be sniffed at. If music sounds like this in 2019, we have nothing to fear… AS

rushonrock rated: 9.5/10  Blossoming Romance

Hardcore Superstar – Split Your Lip (Nuclear Blast)

On Here Comes The Sick Bitch, six tracks in to Hardcore Superstar’s most commercially adept record to date, this barmy bunch of brazen Swedes come across as Tesla meets Steel Panther. Really. But their ability to juxtapose polar opposite sounds and mould genuine singalong sleaze is what will surely make this band the ones to watch in 2011.

A piercing guitar solo on the celebratory, edgy title track lifts spirits and evokes memories of plain and simply hair metal excess. But HS are no 80s apologists. Metal enough to slay the most demanding of festival crowds and yet clearly possessed of an ability to pen FM-friendly anthems there’s no limit to what the Scando scuzzballs can achieve.

Honeymoon is hard, driving rock playing on the best elements of post-nu metal Papa Roach and elsewhere HS come across as a ballsier Buckcherry. You get the idea. This is well crafted modern rock with that sleaze element so essential to justifying a pretty boy image and those occasionally edgy lyrics.

Closer Run To Your Mama, with its prominent keys and atmospheric vocal, offers a magical finale to a pretty fantastic effort. HS have gone from wannabes to will bes in the space of a couple of years. This is accomplished stuff which still manages to put a dirty smile on the faces of those coming into contact with its sleazier twists and dirtier turns. SR

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Hardcore Blimey

Agalloch – Marrow Of The Spirit (Profound Lore)

An album release from Agalloch is like an ivory billed woodpecker to a bird watcher.  A rare glimpse of it before it disappears into the vast woodland is usually a rewarding experience for any devout feather freak.

With plenty of satisfying and perpetually eclectic EP releases to tease their cult following, last full release Ashes Against The Grain was another masterpiece from the Portland band.  Their fourth full-length Marrow Of The Spirit doesn’t disrupt their consistency in delivering another spectacular record.

For any sceptics who think originality and artistic invention is extinct in the world of music, consider these guys. Unlike their previous attempt in the studio, Agalloch are more willing to embrace some intense blast beat structures with new drummer Aesop Dekker.  However, it doesn’t mean in any way that they’re simply seeking black metal roots.

The blast beating begins immediately in Into The Painted Grey after some lovely violin and cello introduces the album in They Escaped The Weight Of Darkness.  But distanced from traditional black metal, Agalloch load the song with some melodic seasoning, host the subtle gutturals of John Haughm, and have a contingence of shoegazey guitar making its presence known every so often.

Their transcendent nature isn’t proudly paraded but instead modestly handled in a delicate way, making Marrow Of The Spirit an unforced and flowing effort. Black Lake Nidstang might weigh over 17 minutes but succeeds in avoiding the bog of bore prevalent in plenty of other attempted epics of its proportion.  Touching on ambient noises and doom metal, the mammoth-track is as impressive as it is ambitious.

They may have a strange name, but it’s not only one to remember, but one that makes sense. The name ‘Agalloch’ is based on a type of resinous and valuable wood that grows specifically from the Aquilaria tree when it becomes diseased with mould.  Forget the woodpecker, Agalloch reflect their title, being a long-standing, beautiful infection that returns stronger again – transforming any potentially parasitic inactivity into a marvellously innovative organism. CR

rushonrock rated: 10/10 Wood You Believe It

Kid Rock – Born Free (Atlantic)

Eight albums in 20 years is more than any fan of Robert James Ritchie could reasonably have expected when the artist known as Kid Rock burst onto the scene at the height of hair metal excess. But this guy’s a stayer.

And if he’s still the most ridiculously unfashionable man in music – in the eyes of many – his country flavoured commercial rock just keeps on rolling. This is yet another hugely enjoyable romp through the life of a 40-something faux rebel who knows where his bread’s buttered and never dares to deviate from the winning formula.

God Bless Saturday is such a simple song it could be penned by most pre-schoolers given a ukelele and a crayon but, as is usually the case with a Kid Rock tune, it works. If you’re not humming the most obvious lyrics of 2010 come the end of it’s three minute thirty-five second run then you’re simply not human.

Canny collaborations with Mary J Blige and Sheryl Crowe ooze confidence and further broaden the appeal of the man middle class America just loves to hate. When, two songs in, the Kid pleads Slow My Roll it’s impossible to believe that will ever happen. This guy’s been on some roll for the best part of two decades and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down just yet. In our book that’s a good thing. SR

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Kid’s Play

Orden Ogan – Vale Reissue (AFM)

When German metallers Orden Ogan released their rushonrock rated 8/10 Easton Hope earlier this year we wondered where this band had been hiding all of our lives. It seems other fans of expertly sculpted hard rock shared the sentiment and the call for a fresh look at their 2008 record Vale became too loud to resist.

As well as earning them the mantle as the natural successors to Blind Guardian (praise indeed), the album proved progressive twists can sit comfortably alongside traditional power metal turns. And vocalist Seeb emerged as a genuine star in the making – even if his unique tone doesn’t always appear like the most natural fit for a metal act.

The epic Reality Lost still sounds like a career-defining classic two years on from its original release but then if you’re an OO fan you already know what’s great about these guys. The question is what’s new on Vale MkII?

A simply fantastic folk version of We Are Pirates! is pretty much the best single track we’ve heard all year. Similarly, an orchestral take on Welcome Liberty proves this band can seamlessly switch styles and still make music which demands exposure. Orden Ogan will be big news in the next two years but there’s real merit in joining their underground fanbase now. SR

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Vale And Hearty

Stratovarius – Darkest Hours (earMUSIC)

Bridging the gap between 2009’s Polaris and next year’s hotly anticipated Elysium, this neatly timed EP showcases a couple of tracks off the latter and includes live music laid down during the tour in support of the former.

But there’s a certain sense of foreboding and bitter irony associated with the Darkest Hours release as only last week the band announced drummer Jorg Michael had been diagnosed with cancer. In keeping with the revered stixman’s reputation as one of the best power metal drummers in the business his work here is typically polished and we wish him the speediest of recoveries following a recent operation.

Stratovarius are chart topping heroes in their home country of Finland and their stock continues to rise more than 25 years after they first hooked up. This taster for an exciting future evidences that continued popularity and proves the band deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as classy peers Helloween and Blind Guardian. Roll on January and the new album. SR

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Strat’s Life

This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth, Andy Spoors, Calum Robson.