For years now I have tried to convince pretty any rocker that I know just how great a rock band Hinder really are. Sometimes it works, but for the most people just don’t wanna know. See, Hinder are one of those “modern” hard rock bands that it isn’t “true” to like – and they’re not alone – Nickelback, Volbeat, Takida and Sabaton are a few examples of bands that it is not ok to like. Now, I’m not a fan of some of the bands mentioned either, but others I do love and Hinder really rocks my world. Well, not everything, I must admit – some of their stuff are really, really bad. Like their debut Far From Close (2003), an album I had never heard before I started to write this review. It should have stayed that way. Also, their breakthrough record Extreme Behaviour (2005) is an album I have a hard time with – and their 2012 album Welcome To The Freakshow maybe wasn’t crap all the way, but it is one of the worst cases of sell-out I have ever lent my ears to – what a disappointment.
But. Albums like Take It To The Limit (2008) and All American Nightmare (2010) are two albums I truly love. The “modern radio rock” is a no-show on those albums and they consists mainly of party laden, groovy, chorus strong classic hard rock and some (often) awesome ballads. Especially All American Nightmare comes with a very heavy production signed Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Rob Zombie, Disturbed) and is easily their best effort to date. But after the Freakshow debacle, charismatic lead singer Austin Winkler left the band to get his life back in order, health issues was the reason for his demise. For his replacement one Marshall Dutton, a guy who had worked with the band behind the scenes as a co-producer and co-song writer since 2008, was chosen and the band released the album When The Smoke Clears in 2015. It was a really good album that tried to get the band back to the hard rock and away from the “aim for radio” goo of Freakshow – and it did its job well. Also, Dutton turned out to be a really good choice as Winkler’s replacement. And now it was time to show the world that the “new” Hinder could still rock as a tight unit.
The album kicks off with the title track and what an opener it is. Heavy and dark with a big groove and a refrain that is a punch in the jaw – very catchy without any radio cheese on it. It sets the tone for the rest of the album and blows away any worries I had about going for the radio hits that might had been spinning in my head. “Burn It Down” is not as punchy as the opener and it’s in slower pace. It borders to a ballad but it is dark, heavy and powerful – and again, the catchiness of the chorus is striking. A fat groove and sleazy guitar riffs combined with a chorus so catchy it’s almost unreal is “King Of The Letdown”. This is a melodic hard rocker that wouldn’t have been out-of-place on Take It To The Limit – fan-fucking-tastic! The first taster of the album, “Remember Me” got my hopes up by first listen a month or so before the release of this album. It’s also a bit slower, but dark, heavy and ballsy and not ballad-like at all. This rough-beat hard rocker would have fitted All American Nightmare well. “Too Late” is a raunchy half-ballad with a stomping groove and rocking hooks. It also sports some country vibes. This is a hit in my book.
“Another Way Out” is a pop-metal stomper and sports some cool guitar riffing. The chorus is pretty memorable and it is a good song, just not as good as the previous five – good but not great. But the make up for this tiny slip with “Making It Hard”, a straight forward hard rock tune that comes with a more classic rock sound. It’s party happy with a nasty attitude, dirty lyrics, shitloads of hooks and a chorus that hits a home run right away. A brilliant tune that will work out brilliantly live. “Drink You Away” also goes into ballad territory, much in the same vein as “Burn It Down” albeit with a bluesier feel. But there’s a strong pop-rock element all over the track and once again, the chorus is so catchy and hook-laden with hit potential deluxe – brilliant. A big-ass groove brings “Play To Win” on. It comes across like a crunchy mix of Def Leppard and Nickelback but more ballsy. It’s crunchy, yet slick and the refrain is amazingly catchy. Another tune that should fit the stage brilliantly.
The album’s only low-water mark comes with the “aim for airplay”-like ballad “Long Gone”. This pop-rock ballad is obviously aimed at American rock radio and doesn’t fit in with the heaviness of the album. It’s not crap but it is the weakest song on the album and would have fitted better on the Welcome To The Freakshow drivel. But they end the album on a good note with “Loser’s Salute”. It’s a tongue-in-cheek, humor-laden stripped rock tune that starts out soft-ish but soon turns into a groovy and quite edgy rocker with lots of attitude, in a fun way. It’s a bit out-of-place on the record but it still works great somehow – a great way to close the album.
The way I see it, Hinder are back for real with this album. It might not make the haters go away, they will probably still refuse to give the band a break, but if rock fans approach it with an open mind, Hinder just might gain some new fans with it. This album redefines what When The Smoke Clears started – to take Hinder away from the letdown that Freakshow was and into the solid hard rock band they really are. This is a darker and heavier album, a bit like All American Nightmare is and it’s really refreshing to hear that the band seems to focus on writing stellar rock tunes instead of setting the tone of what’s hip in the charts. This is also Dutton’s trial by fire – he’s not the new guy anymore but one in the gang and I must say he nails it with the glory. I admit that I might miss Winkler at times, the guy was the voice of Hinder and he had a very personal one which defined the band and as such he’s not easy to replace, but Dutton has proved that he’s the guy to do it. Hopefully, Hinder will stay on this route in the future because when they’re good, they’re bloody awesome. This album is up there with Take It To The Limit and their best since All American Nightmare. I just wish that more rock fans would give them a fair shot because I’m sure Hinder can surprise the hell out of any rocker out there.
More Hinder reviews:
1. The Reign
2. Burn It Down
3. King Of The Letdown
4. Remember Me
5. Too Late
6. Another Way Out
7. Making It Hard
8. Drink You Away
9. Play To Win
10. Long Gone
11. Loser’s Salute