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Nickelback - 'Here and Now' (roadrunner) 2.5/5

Alberta mainstream pop rock outfit Nickelback are undoubtedly one of the most commercially successful bands Canada has produced since the mighty Rush, along with their fellow countrymen and label mates Theory of A Wifebeater, they are to many people the sound of their nation and their music is praised and derided in equal measures. So now we have studio album number seven to divide opinion amongst critics and music fans alike.

Now I gotta admit I'm no Nickelback fan to say the least, but when I first gave this one a spin I had a very pleasant surprise. The opening track This Means War is actually quite good. Not a beer bottle, hooker or cliched stadium rock riff in sight. Instead we get a set of riffs that tip the old titfer towards the likes of Megadeth and some quite intelligent biting anti-war lyrics all wrapped into a song that is possibly the best thing I've heard this band produce. (and yes I have heard most of their output in a professional capacity). But it doesn't stop there a little further on you get Kiss It Goodbye, another fairly good track that sounds a little Wednesday 13 and tackles the price of fame. Bloody Hell two Nickelback tracks that DON'T make me wanna vomit, and they are on the same album. Has hell frozen over?

OK reality check time, there are 11 tracks on this one, and apart from the two mentioned above the rest is typical Nickelback fare of pseudo-macho birds and beer fueled light-weight rockers and cheese laden MTV-u-like power ballads. Admitted well played pseudo-macho birds and beer fueled light-weight rockers and cheese laden MTV-u-like power ballads, but pretty boring and uninspiring fodder none the less. Still its all safe and unoffensive stuff, thankfully devoid of the misogynistic nastiness of Theory Of A Wifebeater and a better class of mainstream wallpaper muzak as well. Nickelback fans will lap it up and I know the likes of Planet Rock and Kerrang fm will be blasting this stuff out all day for the next two years or so.

In conclusion, this album has done nothing to convert me into a fan, but it has shown me that if Nickelback got off their backsides, and broke away from their safe mainstream rock formula, and followed the path laid down on the likes of This Means War they could silence a lot of critics and develop into a band worth listening to.

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For Fans of... 30 Seconds To Mars, Theory Of A Wifebeater, My Extraordinary.....

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