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The Hives keep rocking in latest effort

Joe Meixell | Thursday, September 2, 2004

From the depths of Sweden come five men with names like Dr. Matt Destruction, Chris Dangerous and Vigilante Carlstroem. They are led by the energetic Howlin’ Pelle Alqvist and they all adhere to a strict dress code of matching black and white dress suits or jogging outfits.

No, these are not new comic book characters. These are the Hives.

“Tyrannosaurus Hives,” released this summer, is their first album since 2000 and their third full length since the band formed in 1993. It stays with their formula of mixing garage rock and punk that helped them gain popularity during the garage-rock revival that brought bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes into the public eye. While their 2000 release, “Veni Vidi Vicious,” was more a show of garage rock than anything, this new release showcases more of the punk side of this Swedish band. Containing highly-compacted and very aggressive songs, it is easy to see the influence that both the Stooges and the Clash have had on the Hives.

“Tyrannosaurus” features twelve intense songs revolving around the theme of rebelling against the hollow and robot-like dealings of everyday life. As Alqvist fills the album with brash and aggressive wails, he makes himself a candidate for the new voice against normalcy.

The band wastes no time as the album leads off with the strong “Abra Cadaver” in which the guitars of both Carlstroem and Nicholaus Arson work with Alqvist’s voice to shatter the mold of corporate America. “They wanted to stick a dead body inside of me,” he yells, ” … I tell no lies, wanted to stick an office worker inside of me.” This thought continues through “Walk Idiot Walk,” the first single released from the album. This is another aggressive and borderline angry song about the “idiots” who believe whatever anyone tells them and cannot think for themselves. Held together by the drumming of Dangerous, “Walk” is the catchiest song on the album, and thus a likely candidate for radio play.

One of the more interesting songs rounding out the end of the album is “Dead Quote Olympics” in which Alqvist and company urge others to think for themselves, instead of relying on what others have written. “You had enough of their thoughts, have your own,” he scolds. “Yes they were smart but they are dead,” Alqvist says over more hostile guitar work.

On the whole, the album is violent and abrasive. Sometimes it feels like a band member is going to leap through the stereo and kick you in the head. The rough-around-the-edges style of the Hives fits well with the rebellious themes though, and creates an album that leaves one sweating by the end. Although only about 30 minutes in length, “Tyrannosaurus Hives” packs more punch then some seventy-two minute productions. The Hives go in hard, and then get out, making their point and usually breaking something along the way.

Maybe this is the way rock music is supposed to be.