Newest Review: ... so sixth-former-ish it's impossible to take it seriously, despite the subject matter. A tale about domestic violence, it doesn't suit the ... more
Silver sides have clouds inside them.
Silver Side Up - Nickelback
Member Name: cheffrey
Silver Side Up - Nickelback
Date: 02/05/12, updated on 04/05/12 (44 review reads)
Advantages: One or two OK songs. Not as bad as Limp Bizkit.
Disadvantages: Boring, sterile, derivative, overhyped, whiny... shall I go on?
About a decade ago, when I frequented rock and metal nights at grotty dives a lot more than I do today, there was one song which could fill and clear the dance floor at the same time. Loved and loathed in equal measure, 'How You Remind Me?' was the rock song of 2001 that was inescapable. And I bloody loathed it. Its utterly sterile, pretentious quasi-Pearl Jam posturing would have us hairy metal-heads muttering into our pints about how it was rock music for people who didn't like rock music. Being a rock zealot was a tough life.
But I'm all for giving people second chances and seeing if they've aged well or if I've mellowed or both (this doesn't always work though, I tried it with Oasis recently only to discover I still can't stand them). It's also often the case that a band's most famous song is unrepresentative of their work, and albums can turn up better fare than their singles; see the White Stripes or Deep Purple for evidence. The charity shop turned this one up for several pence, so I'm giving it a spin this morning to see what happens.
'Silver Side Up' is the Canadian rock band's third effort, and the one that would propel them to fame, largely due to the popularity and airplay of 'How You Remind Me'. Lead track 'Never Again' is instantly annoying. With guitar parts taken straight from the dull and homogenised Foo Fighters school of playing, Chad Kroeger's vocal line is all sort of angsty but its lyrics are so sixth-former-ish it's impossible to take it seriously, despite the subject matter. A tale about domestic violence, it doesn't suit the upbeat rhythms and it doesn't have any kind of dark edge to it that's needed. Tackling dark subject matters isn't easy for any recording artist to do well, and this falls well short of making the listener uncomfortable. Here's a sample: "Father's a name you haven't earned yet/ You're just a child with a temper/ Haven't you heard "Don't hit a lady"?/Kickin' your ass would be a pleasure". Hardly reeks of fuming desires of vengeance - if you're going to portray untethered vitriol, at least scream it properly like Rage Against the Machine or Slipknot, or fume it with the cold menace of Roger Waters.
Next up is that single, 'How You Remind Me', which hasn't grown on me at all despite giving it a decade to do so. Chad's voice is beginning to grate a lot, with his half angry, half self-pitying mumblings coming across like he's just another Kurt Cobain/Eddie Vedder wannabe with every line and dull guitar chord. How such a bland single became so massive I've no idea. The 'yet, yet, yet, no' refrain is so reminiscent of the 'hello, how low?' part of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' I wonder if a lawsuit ever reared its head back then...
Next up is 'Woke Up this Morning', which is better. It has enough push and pull from drummer Ryan Vikedal to keep things interesting. It sounds a bit like Korn in places, but again Chad's voice is a weak point. Maybe it's just me, but will he EVER stop whining? The bits where his voice is put through a megaphone are quite cool too. And at least that guitar tone has changed to something with a bit more grit and meat to it. Gritty meat is what this record lacks.
Music review site 'Allmusic' describes Nickelback as 'dark, high-octane rock'. I think they must have mixed accidentally put a Pantera CD in the album case, as this is neither dark nor high-octane. 'Too Bad' has just finished playing, and I can't remember a single thing about it. I think I need something stronger than Earl Grey to get me to the end of this one, and it's only 10 am. And now the cat's just done a runner from the room - never a good sign.
'Just For' is unintentionally hilarious. Kroeger swallows his lyrics throughout so much he makes Elton John sound eloquent. With a rhythm guitar part blatantly ripped off 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' this conjures up memories of Weird Al Yankovic's 'Smells Like Nirvana' video. Kroeger really does sound like he's singing with a mouthful of marbles. Maybe there's a doughnut-eating janitor in the mix as well.
'Hollywood' is just a horrible song, badly sung. Let's skip onto 'Money Bought'. It's mildly better, with some nice contrasting light/dark bits and some interesting bits of guitar work thrown in the background too. The best track is saved for the last, 'Good Times Gone', with an ethereal intro of distant slide guitar and country twang fading in. It's not a bad bit of Southern-fried blues rock, with a bit of Allman Brothers/Lynyrd Skynyrd influence in it. If only they'd bothered to put as much melody in their other songs.
The trouble that plagues Nickelback, as well as several other bands I can think of, is that they have quite clearly spent too much time listening to their main influences that they forget to find their own sound and end up being a murky carbon copy of them. In the same way that Bullet for My Valentine spent far too much time trying to be Metallica and recreate 'Master of Puppets' (as well as being severely imbalanced in the song-writing ability/ego ratio), Nickelback are just a third rate Pearl Jam/Nirvana/Soundgarden tribute. This is a mild shame because there's a glimmer of talent in there. It is entirely possible to draw on one's influences without ending up sounding dangerously close to them and create a unique sound. Radiohead, Slipknot, Gojira, Opeth and Porcupine Tree all manage to do this. Nickelback do not. But even if they did spend a huge amount of time experimenting and finding their feet, it still wouldn't do much to help Kroeger's irritating vocal cords. Oh well.
This can be bought for next to nothing on Amazon, but I wouldn't recommend it. If you must get hold of it though, wait til you see it in a charity shop as it's fairly common there (that reminds me, I must return it to Barnados). And if that still hasn't put you off, they're also responsible for 'Theory of a Deadman'. And I strongly urge you not to look that bunch of wallies up on Youtube.
Summary: A poor facsimile of early 90s grunge