Tales from the Jugular

Maximum Metal's Guide Through the Stockholm Strip

By: Eric Compton & Frank Hill
Published: Monday, December 17, 2012
"Stockholm is the new Sunset Strip!" --attributed to Chris Laney of Zan Clan.

It's no secret that Sweden has been vigorously grinding the hard rock wheel. A quarter of a century has passed since Southern California ruled the glam/sleeze scene of late 80s hair metal. Since then the Sunset Strip movement has been transplanted and the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll has come back to claim a new generation. At this point, casual listeners and even hardcore fans like us are starting to become confused. Every week a new band surfaces and at this point it can become very dense foliage in search for that ripe banana. We wanted to take you all on a guided tour of some of our favorite bands to look for on Sweden's "Stockholm Strip".

Babylon Bombs - Four albums and a sound that is very reminiscent of Motley Crue with a slight punk feel.

Backyard Babies - The Babies have been around since the late-80s with punk leanings, but their self titled album "Backyard Babies" (2008) blended in more 80's hard rock.

Bai Bang - This act have been circling the sun since the late 80s. The band has had recent success with their newest album "Livin' My Dream". Through eight records the group have employed a big arena sound similar to Bonfire crossed with Europe.

Casablanca - Eric's "album of the year" for 2012 and a young band at that. Casablanca was formed by guitarist/songwriter Ryan Roxie (Electric Angels, Slash, Alice Cooper) and perfects a sound that is steeped in 70s rock like Cheap Trick but still fresh considering today's standards. The debut, "Apocalyptic Youth", should appeal to fans of Mama Kin, Bad City and Imperial State Electric.

Crashdïet - At one point this band was nose to nose with Hardcore Superstar as the kings of Sweden (and often mentioned as part of the "big three" along with Crazy Lixx. The band stormed on the scene in 2003 and have released three albums in their career and a fourth on the way in 2012. The band's first album "Rest In Sleaze" may have been the best album Ratt ever wrote, followed by a damn near perfect Motley Crue styled album in "Unattractive Revolution". Since then the band have slowly entered the AOR room and the new record will probably be more arena rock oriented.

Crazy Lixx - This act released their debut album in 2007, "Loud Minority", to critical acclaim. The band followed with "New Religion" and a hard rock sound akin to Firehouse meets Def Leppard. The band have released a new record in 2012 that focuses on more streamlined rock and roll and a less heavy guitar tone and more 70s wash out.

Dynazty - This "newer" band have really hit their stride of late. The band's newest album, "Sultans Of Sin", has seen early chart success in 2012. The band's first two albums, "Bring The Thunder" (2009) and "Knock You Down" (2011) were tremendous records in Europe and have put the band on the map in terms of hard rock aptitude. The group maintain heavier riffs, a touch of keys and a rock 'em sock 'em sense of songwriting that is all glam and glitz.

Gemini Five - This band's loaded up on Swedish rock awards, releasing three albums since 2003. The band are probably due for a new release soon with more Motley Crue meets Ratt hard hitting sleaze.

Hardcore Superstar - This is THE band; the one that probably launched this whole movement to begin with circa 1997. Since then the band have released eight albums cemented by mammoth recordings in "Beg For It", "Dreaming In A Casket" and "Split Your Lip". The group have seen huge commercial success in Europe and spawned countless imitators along the way. The band's sound can best be described as "Guns 'N Roses" meets "Motley Crue" or just say "music to drive a car into a swimming pool".

Imperial State Electric - This is a really cool band out of Sweden founded by Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters). They have released two albums in a short career, most recently "Pop War" in 2011. The band is right out of the 70s rock scheme of things, think Cheap Trick and The Sweet.

Loud 'N Nasty - This band hasn't been around in a few years. I'm not terribly certain if they are active now. The band started out in the late 80's and, like Nasty Idols, experienced recent success in "Teaser Teaser" (2002) and "Too Much Ain't Enough" (2005). The band's sound is similar to W.A.S.P.

Mama Kin - They have the cover look of 80s glam and the regular mentions of booze, women and rock music soaking through the songs fit the puerile subjects of that era perfectly. However, their sound is much closer to classic 70s Aerosmith and Thin Lizzy with a heavy hit of Monster Magnet that give them a distinction in that country's crowded scene. Lead singer Ward compares to Paul Stanley with a soulful baritone.

Mother Misery - The working class guys of the scene play their hand much closer to hard rock with the fuzzy guitars of Monster Magnet, some Soundgarden inspired riffs and the spirit of Steppenwolf. It's a meat-and-potatoes, riff-rock approach that is simplistic, yet entirely catchy. Think muscle cars instead of hairspray for these guys.

Nasty Idols - I hesitate to include this band so high in the mix but the band was really a pre-cursor to the huge wave of Swedish success. The band started in the late 80s and has had enjoyed recent success with "Heroes For Sale" (2002) and "Boy's Town" (2009). The band is a mean Motley Crue styled act crossed with the likes of "L.A. Guns".

The Poodles - This popular band started out in 2006 and have four albums under their wing and a live recording. The band's debut, "Metal Will Stand Tall", reached commercial success in Europe and the group have had tremendous live shows. The group's sound is a touch of keys over a combination of Pretty Maids meets Whitesnake.

Sister Sin - Led by the confident hotness of lead singer, Liv Jagrell, and embracing the tougher 80's sleeze of Motley Crue with hot guitars, crash & bash drumming and gang chant backing vocals, Sister Sin is the band that will grab you by your crotch and throw you against the wall as they pummel you with hard rock fists. Lyrics from early albums are admittedly juvenile-leaning, but they rarely let up on the high energy performance and they grow in skill from release to release.

Vains Of Jenna - This is probably one of the few Swedish acts that have actually had some success on US soil. The group have released four records thus far and are slightly like Saigon Kick meets Hanoi Rocks.

--Eric Compton & Frank Hill (12.15.12)

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