I know what you are asking…Why on Earth am I doing a Nickelback review??? I have asked myself that same question over and over again. But I do have a reason. I wanted to see if I could objectively review an album despite any prior biases I might have with the band. It was more of an experiment…a challenge.
Let me give you some history. I started out as a fan of Nickelback…I mean who didn’t back in the day. They wrote really catchy songs that got stuck in your head. Over time, that like became boredom as everything they ever did was the same old shit. No growth, no diversity. Then further on, they became a joke, a caricature of themselves.
Then they became down right irritating with stupid, worthless feuds such as the recent spat with Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor. Now I can’t even listen to Stone Sour’s album as a result. They both had albums coming out around the same time so the spat was probably planned for publicity that neither band really needed. It was so fucking stupid (excuse my language but it was).
That got me thinking even more (which is dangerous). Do I not like them anymore because of all the negativity that I have heard over the years or is it because they really aren’t that good. That thought intrigued me. So, I forced myself to try and wipe all that out of my head and do a solid review on this album as if it wasn’t Nickelback. As if I hadn’t heard of this band or had no idea who did the album. Did it work???
Short answer…HELL NO!!!
Long answer, yes and no. It did allow me to get through the album numerous times and really think about the songs. But then I started to realize something. The ridicule is completely and utterly warranted. Let’s go through the album and see what I really thought about each song.
The album opens with the first single released, “Feed the Machine”. A heavier song, but sounds like everything else they have ever done. It is kinda boring. Which might explain why the band has seen the sales on this album come in extremely lacking.
The second track is an even heavier song called “Coin for the Ferryman”. It was a weird one for me as I actually like it, but at the same time I don’t find Nickelback to be a very credible hard rock band. To hear them go so heavy doesn’t feel genuine and doesn’t fit their image. It does have a meaty guitar solo, however, the lyrics are lacking any real substance which would be real negative on the song.
“Songs on Fire” is the second single and if you are a Nickelback fan this song will be great for you. It is classic Nickelback. They can write a catchy little ballad. For me, it is nothing new and original. I have already heard this song on every other album.
Next up is “Must Be Nice” and this is one where I see why the band has always been ridiculed for their lyrics. They are awful. They are repeating nursery rhymes to a hard and heavy metal sound. Can’t stand this song.
“After the Rain” is another slower song and what does it sound like? I have said this already, but it sounds like their other releases. I swear they have not grown as a band since the beginning. They have a formula and they use it for almost everything in the same way as Bon Jovi does. It gets very tiring.
“For the River” is another heavier song, but this one works for me. I think only because I know Nuno Bettencourt does the guitar solo in this song. Nuno does tear it up on this song!! I do seem to like their heavier songs despite my misgivings.
Yet another ballad is up next. “Home” is one you will like if you are already a fan. I don’t know what else to say at this point about these type of songs. Just go read what I said about “Songs on Fire” and “After the Rain”, it is the same thing I would say about this one.
The most interesting and best song on the album is “Betrayal (Act III)”. First, Act III? I don’t remember ever listening to any other acts on the album. Second, did they have the intention to do a concept album…because that could be cool. That would be the best way for them to redefine who and what they are. I could wrap my head around that. Now the song, it completely kicks ass. It is styled differently than anything else on the album. A nice acoustic guitar sound to start it off with either a flute or some other wind instrument sound. Then kicks into some heavy bass drum and a loud, heavy song. All around, very different and in a great way.
But they kill it with the next song as we are back to what I am tired of with them. The song “Simple Majority” is some sort of protest song with the same old stale sound. Nickelback doing a protest song, sure I believe that! Enough said.
“Every Time We’re Together” is the last song that fans of the band will like and non fans will cringe again. Boring…boring…boring.
The last track is “Betrayal (Act I)”. Again, no Act II and makes me wonder again if a concept album was thought about. The song is an instrumental and written solely by the guitarist Ryan Peake with no credit to Chad Kroeger which gave me hope. However, it is a weird placement to throw it on as the last song. Maybe it would be great if placed appropriately in front of an Act II and then the great Act III. These two “Betrayal” songs actually give me a little hope that maybe they could do something special…but this wasn’t the album.
- “Feed the Machine” – Delete
- “Coin for the Ferryman” – Keeper
- “Song on Fire” – Keeper
- “Must Be Nice” – Delete
- “After the Rain” – Delete
- “For the River” – Keeper
- “Home” – Delete
- “The Betrayal (Act III)” – Keeper
- “Silent Majority” – Delete
- “Every Time We’re Together” – Delete
- “The Betrayal (Act I) – Keeper
5 keepers out 11 songs – 45% (2.3 out 5 stars) If you are fan of this band still, then the album is exactly what you want and expect. It might be a little harder on some songs than prior albums, but the Nickelback sound is still there. If you aren’t a fan, this album will not make you suddenly become one. Despite a couple very interesting songs, it is still too much of the same old shit…All Filler and No Killer!!! Ok, “Betrayal” was Killer!!
I am glad I tried this experiment for me, but my bias was still there and I was unable to fully detach myself from them. I did learn that my feelings toward the band are real and not just a result of all the negative comments you hear and read from a lot of people. For that, this was successful. I am sure you were already going to steer clear from this album, but definitely do so. Nickelback if you are listening…Concept album would have been cool!!! If this was a concept album…I totally missed that so you did a lousy job.