I am probably one of the few music journalists out there that truly supports the Canadian hard rock act, Nickelback. They have always gotten a bad rap from both critics and music fans. It just does not make any sense to me because I have been a fan of theirs since middle school. They are armed to the teeth with bombastic riffs, badass songs, and pretty good musicianship. Their songs can range in topics, from drinking and partying to the human spirit. After 2014’s release, No Fixed Address, I thought the group peaked their success. After some time away and successful throat surgery, Nickelback is making a comeback this year, with their newest effort, Feed The Machine. Can this group recapture their old glory and still be the band that fans hate to admit, they actually like? We are about to find out.
In 2015, vocalist/lead guitarist Chad Kroeger underwent throat surgery to remove a cyst in his vocal chords, thus cancelling a majority of the tour dates. Now, he is back and sounds better than ever. He really hits his notes to a “T,” and you could not even tell he had surgery done on his throat. Both he and rhythm guitarist Ryan Peake crafted probably their heaviest stuff since their 2001 breakthrough album, Silver Side Up. From the title track to “Coin for the Ferryman,” there is a lot of heavy duty guitar work on this record. Bassist and Chad’s brother, Mike Kroeger, does what he does best, put together bass licks that kick absolute ass. They do not give him enough credit as a bass player, he is really good. Chad not only nails it with the vocals, but he also plays some real mean solos on the record, especially on “For The River.” Drummer Daniel Adair is fabulous drummer who can still bring energy-filled kicks to the rhythm of each song. Both he and Mike are the backbone to Nickelback.
While most of their tunes are very hard, they still have to dive into the world of pop rock. Fans considered this move as a cop out to sell records, but I have always believed that they write pop inspired tunes with style. In “Song On Fire,” it has a slow melody, but it contains heavy like riffs performed brilliantly by the group. Fret not, there is still plenty of rock ‘n’ roll fun on this album for all to enjoy. My favorite is the twang inspired “Must Be Nice.” It features lyrics that come from classic nursery rhymes that only Chad can put together, as well as a swanky guitar solo by him. They finish it all off with the instrumental track, “The Betrayal (Act I).” It is done acoustically with orchestral motivated background music. It was an odd, but effective way to have the album come full circle.
So, to answer the question I asked myself at the beginning of this review, they have indeed returned to form and are ready to overcome everybody’s negativity. Feed The Machine is a definite improvement to No Fixed Address. There is strong songwriting to go along with tough musicianship. There was not a whole of partying songs on this album, but I welcomed the somewhat change in direction they were going in. Nickelback will always be one of those bands I will defend to the end. I thought this was a pretty good record and I cannot wait to hear these songs live. Welcome back, we missed you. To Nickelback, I salute you. Horns up!!! 8.4/10