Nickelback are one of those bands with majorly polarised opinions…basically you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Admittedly, as a loyal fan of Nickelback myself, I can find some justification in why this band cops so much hate. Chad Kroeger’s lyrics can go into some really unflattering places sometimes, focusing on sexual exploitation, treating women as sex objects, using violence as a solution and getting wasted with the boys. Plus the last few Nickelback albums haven’t been the strongest or the most cohesive.
2008’s Dark Horse got really heavy-handed with songs about sex and shallowness towards women. 2011’s Here and Now was just a painfully average record. And 2014’s No Fixed Address tried too hard to mesh multiple styles of music together and sadly just didn’t work. That’s not to say that none of these albums had great songs on them, it’s just that they didn’t hold up compared to earlier records such as Silver Side Up, The Long Road and All The Right Reasons.
It’s a relief then that this album is something of a return to form from this Canadian Post-Grunge/Hard Rock band. For the most part, it gets the balance right between softer radio-friendly ballads and darker grittier songs packed with heavy guitar riffs and loads of pent up anger. Opening track “Feed The Machine” is a politically-charged anthem that seems to be related to the Trump Administration and how corrupted and power hungry a government can be towards its citizens. “Song on Fire” is one of those down-tempo ballads with a simple yet powerful song structure about writing a love song and having meaning behind it.
Latest single “Must Be Nice” goes into their trademark style of tongue-in-cheek humour, mashing up a series of nursery rhymes and classic song lyrics to bring down the Kim Kardashians of the world. Essentially it’s about those famous celebrities living fake, fairytale lives with all material and no substance. Elsewhere we have the industrial metal chug of “Coin For The Ferryman”, the groove-laden melodic fare of “After The Rain” and “For The River” and emotional power ballads in “Home” and “Everytime We’re Together”.
However, the two big highlights for me can be found in “The Betrayal (Act III)” and “Silent Majority”. The former begins with some laid back acoustic chords before launching into some angst-ridden lyrics about dealing with inner demons and perhaps being trapped in a sort of purgatory. The latter is an empowerment anthem about coming together as a collective, not giving up and making your voice heard. The album ends with the instrumental track “The Betrayal (Act I)” which is a pretty odd choice and doesn’t really sit that well with me. It’s a lovely track but it just doesn’t work as an album closer.
Overall, this album is a huge improvement over the last few records. It’s not quite on par with their older material but it’s still a solid record all around. 8/10
Music video for “Feed The Machine”… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKgfcd6lqp4
Music video for “Song on Fire”… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFzTdmZywK8
Lyric video for “Must Be Nice”… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LKOvlS3dnw