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Nickelback - The Long Road - The wrong and boring road

2006-03-29 18:36

Thank God for Metallica. Before their St. Anger album saved the world from the bombastic cul-de-sac of nu-metal, post grunge pretenders like Nickelback were being hailed as the heavweight champions of hard rock. Not that there's anything particularly horrible about Nickelback - it's just that having kicked off their career as a covers band, you'd think they'd have a knack for continually distilling their influences into the mainstream metal melting pot.

And initially it seems like they've learned their lesson with the album opening "Flat on the Floor" tapping straight into the harder, faster, heavier school of hard rock. Sort of like a frothier, less frenzied take on Metallica's "Frantic". Yet, the Candian quartet sounds too afraid to depart from the Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains radio-ready blueprint. Songs like "Do This Anymore" and "Believe it or Not" are straightforward stadium tailored swaggers, all chugging riffs, impassioned vocal cries and not quite dirty enough guitars.

It may just be the fact that a whole bunch of garage rockers are hogging the hipster headlines, but on colour by numbers hook-heavy neo-grunge excursions ("Feelin' Way Too Damn Good") Nickelback sound like nothing more than a beer party band. Okay, so they're a pretty good one and thoroughly professional at that. Yet, they're never remotely exhilarating or trashy. Instead, as the fatuously melodramatic "See You at the Show" shows this is actually a band with closer sonic ties to say, Aerosmith or Bon Jovi than their self-styled grunge predecessors. It's all a bit too cynical - the sound of a band concentrating too hard on carbon copying an on the money formula, rather than looking for any off the beat musical liberation.
Not particularly bad, but not in the spirit of great music. It's formulaic, on the money, music that'll keep the cash registers jingling and fool foolish fans, but that doesn't challenge the status quo.

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