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Dark Horse

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★★★★☆
(227 Reviews)

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Nickelback have established themselves as one of the biggest rock bands in the world. With over 26 million albums sold worldwide they have made their mark in rock and roll history. Their new album, ’Dark Horse’, is one of the most anticipated releases this year. The band brought in legendary producer Mutt Lange to produce the record with Nickelback and longtime collaborator Joey Moi.

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  • I previewed this CD from the local library. When the first song’s subject is about oral sex, you know it’s time for the band to start looking for new material. Geez, Chad & Company! That’s the best you’ve got? I listened to the rest of the CD and found nothing outstanding or worthy of further attention. This isn’t rock-n-roll or metal or (fill in the blank). It’s four junior high school guys standing behind the gym smoking cigarettes, testing out the latest swear word, thinking they are cool. Chad, dude, you don’t sing with any feeling. (Perhaps you are singing with something in YOUR mouth?) Your technique is a “one trick pony”: heard it once, unique; heard it through a whole series of albums, roll my eyes and move on. BORING!! I listened to the previous releases, too. Same old story. YAWN….

    This CD is “wooden” as in dead, stiff, not living, beyond revival. The biggest rock band in the U.S.? Yeah, sure, and so was Boy George at one time. There’s no accounting for taste with some folks.

    Posted on February 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Sequels sometimes have a lot to live up to but this one doesn’t disappoint. It has the capacity to appeal to a variety of tastes depending on the song from the romantic to bold rock. Some of the language is a little much for me on a few songs but it’s like I said that there is something for everyone.

    For me, the highlights and soul of the album in track order:

    Gotta be somebody (Easily the best song that anyone can identify with)

    I’d come for you (Makes my heart melt)

    Never going to be alone (Probably will be heard at a few weddings)

    S.E.X. (Straight to the point but a good tease too)

    If today was your last day (Good way to approach each day)

    Posted on February 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • good cd, not another ATRR, but they never meant it to be. every song is enjoyable, and although not a musical masterpiece, i never judge nickelback in the vein of “musical masterpiece”, simply on the enjoyment factor, which is high with some rock songs, such as the lead rock single, somthing in your mouth, and some of their signature ballads, such as never gonna be alone.

    Posted on February 6, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • You know, I really try to approach every music review with very little expectations; I’ve found that it makes it much easier for me to truly sit back and enjoy what the artists are doing on any album. This may not make me the best critic in the world, however, because I tend to ignore some of what’s come before musically, lyrically, historically, etc. … but I think it keeps me true to myself.

    That said, today’s Nickelback doesn’t sound like yesterday’s Nickelback so much. Sure, three albums ago, they may’ve had a harder edge, whereas today’s Nickelback does seem to flirt more with a mainstream sound. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I think the great danger it poses to a group is that may develop a bit of predictability … but ask any serious Nickelback fan from the group’s first album IF he would’ve expected the band to end up here and I’ll bet THAT he never would’ve predicted. It shows that the band has tried to evolve, which is more than many bands ever try to do. It shows that they’re striving for staying power — growing a fan base — and I can give ‘em props for that.

    Something in Your Mouth (4.5 out of 5)
    Wake the kids, folks, we’re talking serious sex education here with rock’n'roll the way it was meant to be rocked and rolled.

    Burn It to the Ground (5 out of 5)
    Classic bad boy rock.

    Gotta Be Somebody (4.5 out of 5)
    Hear me out on this one, heavy metal purists. Somewhere between writing music and selling records, every artist has had to reach a compromise. Around the time the band penned & performed “Photograph,” metal purists wrote off Nickelback saying that they went ‘mainstream’ in order to cash in But even Robert Downey Jr convinced Gwenyth Paltrow to take a role in IRON MAN by asking her, “Aren’t you tired of making these great little films that no one sees?” Cut Nickelback some slack. With “Photograph” and tracks like “Gotta Be Somebody,” they’re selling MORE records, bringing more fans to their music, and growing the biz. Hats off, boys.

    I’d Come for You (4.5 out of 5)
    Nothing much to add other than the score. Like the sound, like the sentiments. I’ll leave it at that.

    Next Go Round (5 out of 5)
    Serious headbangers are gonna need an MRI after listening to this one. Thank God for metal.

    Just to Get High (3.5 out of 5)
    Drugs destroy lives. It’s about time someone started fighting back.

    Never Gonna Be Alone (4.5 out ot 5)
    Great rock ballad. Even safe for weddings! Love lasts. It ought to be celebrated.

    Shakin’ Hands (11 out of 5!!!)
    Now that’s what I call rock. “She ain’t no Cinderella while she’s getting undressed b/c she rocks it like the naughty Wicked Witch of the West!” Sure, she didn’t get that far by “shakin’ hands.” Best bad li’l girl song I’ve heard in a long while.

    S.E.X. (4.5 out of 5)
    Spelling was never this fun in school. Only metal could write a song like this. You don’t hear Martina McBride singing it.

    If Today Was Your Last Day (3.5 out of 5)
    This territory has already been probed by any musical style. Not a bad song, just nothing new here. Been there, done that. And, yes, Martina McBride has even sung about it.

    This Afternoon (4 out of 5)
    What?! Dare I say it … a feel/good song? Major props for mentioning CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival, for the uninitiated). It’s easy to forgive such confections, though it does feel more than just a bit out of place on this album.

    Overall, a very solid experience. A bit uneven on sound — maybe vacillating too much toward mainstream rock than most folks (even critics) would’ve liked, but I’ll forgive Nickelback for putting in the effort. There’s plenty here to celebrate, even for a “Dark Horse”.

    Posted on February 6, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Nickelback’s new album brings with it the first major sonic change since signing with EMI and Roadrunner Records (with the possible exception of “The State”), largely due to influential producer “Mutt” Lange coming out of his “rock-music-scene retirement” of 8 years and putting his two-cent’s worth (and those are two HUGE pennies) in on the record.

    Well known for his uncanny ability to transform a stagnant band or artist into an overnight success, Lange helped save bands like Foreigner and Heart…not to mention what he did for AC/DC and Def Leppard.

    While Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger still co-produced on Dark Horse, you knew things would change because with Lange, there is only one right way to do things. Obviously, with the huge success the band has had under Kroeger’s leadership and production, especially with 2005’s “All The Right Reasons” still going strong after selling millions, this wasn’t a “save” situation…just a great opportunity for Kroeger and company to work with a legend.

    The result is sort of a “Nickelback meets the 80’s” record, and the best way to describe the sound is BIG, FAT and THICK…with little dynamic range…and guitars and drums being priorities. If you’re a fan of 80’s hard rock in the vein of AC/DC and Def Leppard, read no furthur…you’ll love this album.

    However, if you’re like me and prefer the more natural sound of Kroeger’s previous efforts, you may have an issue or two with this record. This sounds a little too manufactured and processed for my tastes. Lange’s influence is all over this album, including how the songs themselves come across. He’s definitely made this into an arena rock record filled with hard rock/heavy-metal type anthems…as a whole it sounds like one major jam session with all dials on ten (except for some of the always-included, mid-tempo Adult Contemporary ballads).

    Multi-layered background vocal chants and special effects are everywhere, and my biggest beef is with the drum sounds…Lange’s trademark electronic-hybrid snare drum sounds are way over-the-top for me. If I wished to hear this type of production today, I’d rather dust off my old Def Leppard and AC/DC tapes and listen to those…I don’t need to hear it on a 2008 Nickelback record.

    That being said, some of the songs aren’t half-bad…”Dark Horse” gets off to a fast start with the incessantly infectious “Something In Your Mouth”…based on a repeated, extremely catchy guitar riff that once in your head, is there to stay. “Gotta Be Somebody” is one of Nickelback’s best mid-tempo AC tunes in a while, and “I’d Come For You” is similar, though slower-paced. Interestingly, “Mutt” Lange’s production style doesn’t seem to hurt the power ballads…they may have actually benefited from the change.

    But when the heavy, straight-forward rock songs come back in, the over-production ruins it for me…on “Next Go Round”, the transducer vocal processor makes Chad sound as if he’s singing through a cardboard paper-towel roll tube connected to a distortion pedal… at least the chorus is hot and catchy. The top half of the lineup is strongest, and after another solid power ballad “Never Be Alone”, “Dark Horse” begins to fade down the stretch in terms of song quality, and limps to the closer, “This Afternoon”. This country-flavored tune doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the collection, and it has a chorus that sounds like it was copied and pasted from a Def Leppard album.

    All in all, the record has its moments, and the average listener won’t be bothered by the loss of a natural, “real”-sounding character, and may actually come away quite impressed by the stacked, multiple-overdubbed, super-polished production.

    I think Nickelback was doing just fine under Kroeger’s direction, and it begs the question, “Why fix what ain’t broke?” For me, the new sound leaves a lot to be desired, and in the end, “Dark Horse” fails to finish.

    Posted on February 6, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now