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4.2 out of 5 stars
Dark Horse
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106 of 123 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2008
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
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.
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92 of 112 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
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".
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2008
Format: MP3 Music
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.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2008
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
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)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This album is not for everybody. It is not especially original, but if you are nostalgic for an 80s arena rock style then this very well may be worth the cost of admission for you. I would have given 3 /12 stars if I could have. And subjectively, I may have given a 4. But as much as I am one of those people who gets nostalgic I wanted to give an objective score that takes into account the fact that, true, the music here is not particularly unique or stand out as different, and the lyrics are quite frankly very trashy. This album does not break any new ground but it does improve on the 80s arena formula. The biggest influence on this album to my mind is Def Leppard. If you like them, you will probably enjoy this album. This album definitely rocks the house compared to previous Nickelback albums and for that I prefer it. Their other work was too radio-friendly and safe for me. I need edgier stuff and Nickelback delivers on that count here. If you want a throwback to, and improvement on the arena style rock, and if the "dumbed down" frat house lyrics don't bother you this album is worth another look, even if you don't like Nickelback's other albums. I didn't think I would like it and then had the opportunity to listen to the whole thing for free and was glad I had the chance. I bought it after that. It is not a "great" album but it is a good album. The older style and raunchy lyrics will definitely put some people off, however.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2009
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Nickelback's debut album was the best in my opinion and the rest since then have been playing catch up. This album has some really kickin' songs that really make you want to "Burn it to the ground" but some really make you want to put out the fire. It's not a bad CD and one you can listen to the whole way through but there are only a few really awesome songs. If you like Nickelback, get this CD. The 5 or 6 awesome tracks will be worth it if the radio doesn't wear them out.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Nickelback are by far the most transcendent band of the 21st century. They managed to make music that is beyond generic, simplistic and offensive. Normally, your typical post-grunge flavor of the month will fade away and be forgotten by many, but Nickelback are fortunate that their career still manages to carry on. With "Dark Horse", they have managed to be successful in crafting the nadir of rock music.

Nickelback did one thing different here: change up the lyrical content, and it still doesn't matter because the formula has long been sucked dry by now. The songs have managed to eliminate all subtlety with track titles like "Something in Your Mouth" and "S.E.X.". I don't find this to be a problem because the lyrics are dirty. In fact, you can sing about the most disgusting fetishes and have it on one of the greatest albums ever. That's not what bothers me. Instead, Nickelback present it in poor form, resulting in a seriously contrived and laughable delivery. We get it, Chad Kroeger. You have no class whatsoever.

As for the band, wouldn't we have expected some growth by now? Absolutely not, because Nickelback are incapable of doing such a thing. It seems that they're not a band for music, and instead manage to write the same washed-up, four chord nonsense that's been milked dry from the cash cow for many years. We have rehashed ballads for radio (that you've heard years ago), songs that sound like amateurs covering Corrosion of Conformity's Deliverance, pop country songs with a flimsy rock masquerade, and other predictable garbage. It's obvious that they're trying to recapture the 80's arena rock sound, and they succeed in that by overproducing this to death. Looking for hooks? You won't find any here.

I now feel dumber for actually having the misfortune of sampling this atrocity. Cliche ridden generic radio rock at its all-time worst, and that's an accomplishment.
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37 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2008
Format: Audio CD
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.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I've never been a Nickelback fan and don't love Kroeger's voice, yet I think this is one of the best rock albums of the past few years. Hiring the legendary Mutt Lange was a coup - sonically, it's amazingly lush, powerful & crisp. The sound is unbelievable.

Instead of weakening the band with too much of the overproduced Shania-thing, Mutt balances his strengths with the band's identity quite nicely. He also pushed the songwriting forward, and there are melodic hooks galore. And for once, Nickelback are playing actual guitar solos...not pointless wanking solos, but highly melodic and charged solos (as in the rocker Just To Get High). This disc expands Nickelback's appeal beyond the alt-rock & moody post-grunge thing to rock fans across the board. There's something for everyone. Songs like "If Today Was Your Last Day" or "This Afternoon" are instantly catchy in the way Def Leppard was with Hysteria (just updated), while rockers will find much to like in the opener "Something in Your Mouth", the aforementioned "Just to Get High" and stomper "Burn it to the Ground", among others. This album is tailor-made for world domination and will be massive. Yes, the lyrics are at times sexist and silly...but that's part & parcel of the hard rock game and Nickelback is no exception. It's brash, blunt, and sometimes cliched, but you can't argue with the great rock music. I didn't think Nickelback had it in them, and thought Mutt was past his expiration date when it came to rock, but they proved me wrong.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I just received this cd in the mail today and listened to it while I was at the gym. This is a great cd! Really good! I first heard about Nickelback years ago but, for some reason, never really got into them. After listening to sound bites from all the other albums here on Amazon, I have to say that this is their best one yet, and I know why - it was produced by John "Mutt" Lange, a guy responssible for the success of a lot of other bands I admire like AC/DC, Def Leppard and Foreigner. I am not a fan of most modern rock bands because most of them sound the same and it is all pretty forgettable. This album sounds like something from the 80's, back when metal ruled the earth. It is not "hair metal." It is real rock, the kind of rock that is crunching with power and has a good beat. I usually listen to the power metal bands out of Europe like Helloween, Iron Savior, Primal Fear, Gamma Ray, Hammerfall, Brainstorm, Sonata Arctica, Nightwish, etc., and that is mainly because American music has really gone into the toilet, mainly starting about fifteen years ago and progressively getting worse until we are where we are today. This cd is definitely a standout!
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