Nickelback

Here And Now

Written by: PP on 24/12/2011 01:21:26

The cynic in me can't ignore the fact that "Here And Now", the seventh studio album by Canadian mega rockers Nickelback, was released in late November just in time for the sales boom that is Christmas in order to maximize the amount of revenue for the label. It's a carefully calculated cash-grab for the label to make sure the record ends up gift-wrapped underneath as many a Christmas tree as possible, which I guess is just a good business decision in the end. But if you came here looking for the mega singles in the vein of "How You Remind Me" and "Photograph", you may be sorely disappointed.

While singer Chad Kroeger still sounds unmistakably like Chad Kroeger, the rest of the band has changed. Yes, there are still instances of formulaic Nickelback rock delivered exactly in the same way as you remember from "Dark Horse", "All The Right Reasons", "The Long Road" and even albums before that -- the pop rock songs disguised as post-grunge influenced alternative rock tracks -- but these are in the minority on the record. Instead, we see Nickelback restore a bit of artistic integrity by delivering a record that's way more aggressive than its predecessors. It's more hard-hitting and more direct with a ton of dirty rock'n'roll and groove fused into their tracks. There are even slick guitar solos on the record that screech and swirl in a way you most certainly haven't heard a mainstream rock band do before whose name isn't Foo Fighters. Yes, you heard me right. There are solos on a Nickelback record. Good ones, even. Add in the fact that the songs are also faster and have a heavier distortion than in the past, and this might be the first time in a decade that we hear Nickelback stray away from their tried-and-tested formula.

So that begs the question to be asked: is Nickelback now a band worth considering for critical acclaim? I'm of the opinion they've always had some good, catchy mainstream rock; I love me some good megahit-laden Nickelback from time to time regardless of the stigma that statement carries. But I honestly still can't sign onto the acclaim part. Just like their last three albums, Nickelback delivers four, maybe five absolutely huge anthems with stadium-filling capacity (see: "Lullaby", "Bottoms Up", "Holding On To Heaven", "Trying Not To Love You"). But they also stick an awful lot of filler material in between. Once the first half of the album is over, Nickelback regresses back to their critically loathed self, writing songs that are decent, but ones you'll never repeat-play unless they come on by accident.

So while "Here And Now" takes some chances by modifying from the core Nickelback sound, it fails to tackle their fundamental problem: consistency. Writing an album's worth of good songs seems a larger-than-life task for the band in 2011, as it has done ever since 2001's excellent "Silver Side Up". I suspect the band are saving their hit-singles to spread them out on multiple albums to make a lot of money, which is a good way to prolong their career, but it's not going to earn the band any credit in critical reviews such as this one.

6

Download: Bottoms Up, Trying Not To Love You, Holding On To Heaven
For the fans of: Daughtry, Theory Of A Deadman, Hinder
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.11.2011
Roadrunner Records

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