NICKELBACK – Feed The Machine

Just for fun, I quickly ran through a bunch of other reviews of this album online, just to the see the score. And whadda you know, the slagging went on and on and on, with only a few reviews giving it the thumbs up. This is how it’s supposed to be, see, you SHALL hate Nickelback. I’m sure that many haters haven’t even given the band a fair shot – Nickelback are the pariah of rock and that’s that. One proof of that is Corey Taylor (Stone Sour/Slipknot) saying that singer/guitarist/main song writer Chad Kroeger is to rock what KFC is to chicken. As funny as that quote might be, it only shows just how predictable that comment is and when you think about that Taylor’s Stone Sour aren’t that much to write home about, it becomes even funnier. Kroeger’s answer to that is to call Stone Sour “Nickelback lite” – hilarious. That said, I was a Nickelback-hater myself many, many years ago, before I decided to cut the crap and give them a fair chance – and that’s when I changed my mind. I dig Nickelback. Albums like Dark Horse (2008) and Here And Now (2011) are awesome releases and even though their last album, 2014’s No Fixed Address didn’t manage to match those two, it was still a good album. So, it’s safe to say that I looked forward to this album – and it did come with some expectations to match.

The opening title track was the first taster released from this album and quite frankly, it doesn’t sound like the obvious Nickelback single to me – which is not necessarily a bad thing. It comes in mid pace, riff-happy, dark, somewhat melancholic and even a bit industrial at times. The chorus, however, has a distinct catchiness but I’m not sure I would call this an obvious single. It’s a damn good song no matter how you view it. “Coin For The Ferrymen” is much more Nickelback recognizable, love it or hate it. In all its cathiness, it is also ballsy, tough and with a clear heavy metal vibe throughout the song. And it kicks ass. Big time. Great tune! The single “Song On Fire” is a ballad, you know the radio-friendly, hook-laden kind this band is known for writing. That said, this is much darker and sports a pretty heavy rhythm and it’s catchier than a crack addiction. A hit to be, I’m sure – and yes, I do like it.

“Must Be Nice” is so Nickelback recognizable that it feels like I have heard this song before, like I already know it before I’m halfway through the song. But it comes with a groovy rhythm, a strong melody, a brilliantly memorable chorus – and it do rocks. So despite the self-borrowing, I have to give it my thumbs up. If “Song On Fire” is the album’s leading power ballad, then “After The Rain” is the album’s huge power ballad. The rhythm has a big groove to it which makes it almost danceable and the chorus is striking – it’s the kind of the song that will leave you humming it no matter if you like it or not. Another hit, you can rest assured of that. And again, yes, I dig the tune. “For The River” is the first dip on the album. It’s not a crap song – it’s groove-happy with a decent melody, but the chorus falls flat, it’s pretty dull and it goes nowhere. But they patch things up again with the half-ballad “Home”. The song lies on a pretty heavy foundation and a main melody that etches itself to the melody centre of the brain and refuses to leave. Feels like a big hit to me.

“The Betrayal (Act III)” is hard, heavy, dark and aggressive – and the metal influences are pivotal to the song. All over that lies a distinct melody and a bad-ass chorus that’s not radio-friendly at all. Nickelback does this kind of non-commercial music so well and should do more of those, the way I see it – awesome! “Silent Majority” is really a pop song in a straight forward melodic hard rock disguise. the arrangements and melodies are both distinct and effective and Nickelback have always mastered these kind of monster pop songs brilliantly. I love this! “Every Time We’re Together” is really a simple power ballad based on both acoustic and electric guitars, some would probably call it insipid and bland, and Nickelback have written tons of these before, but in my book, they pull it off brilliantly even this time. Parts of me really wants to hate it but I can’t – so I don’t. They close the record with “The Betrayal (Act I)” – where the Hell is “Act II”?? – a shorter, atmospheric and quite beautiful instrumental piece – a very unpredictable move and a surprisingly good way to say goodbye for this time.

To sum this up, it’s not hard to recognize Nickelback on this record and it probably won’t result in any new fans for the band. However, Kroger’s words that they have taken a heavier route with the record turns out to be true – even though there are some songs that are in the same vein as the stuff they have released before. But this is a darker and not as much as a party laden record as their previous ones – and it is a step up from the last one, song quality wise. If the band’s heavier and harder sound will go down well with the mainstream pop audience remains to be seen but I think it fits them really well – and I hope they will take it even further in the future. As for the credibility points for hating this band, I proudly stick my middle-finger out to that and with the risk of losing such points I say it out loud – I’m a fan of this band and I would be at the front row if some of our bigger hard rock festivals had the guts to book them. A highly recommended album!

8/10

More Nickelback reviews:

No Fixed Address
Here And Now

Tracklist:

1. Feed The Machine
2. Coin For The Ferryman
3. Song On Fire
4. Must Be Nice
5. After The Rain
6. For The River
7. Home
8. The Betrayal (Act III)
9. Silent Majority
10. Every Time We’re Together
11. The Betrayal (Act I)

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