Nickelback Focus on How We ‘Feed the Machine’
Adam Flores | Senior Writer
Canadian rock conglomerate Nickelback has fueled the fire of America’s current social and political state with their latest epic, “Feed the Machine.” Contrary to the new record’s ostensible tone of the divide between right and left ideologies, the band’s message explores how we blindly follow certain social constructs, whatever they may be, without questioning its meaning and impact.
“Any time people follow something blindly, and there’s a reference to the piper blowing his flute that leads the mice kind of thing, and just away they go. There’s just so many of these things that people need to question,” frontman Chad Kroeger said in a recent interview with HardDriveRadio.
Released on June 16, ‘Feed the Machine,’ Nickelback’s ninth studio set, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. The title and lead track, with its razor’s edge alt-metal angst, is their exposition of what the rest of the compilation incites. Present are more focused themes of individual and societal anxieties within today’s world and less of the sexual innuendo and metaphorical phallic clamor the group is commonly known for in its rock anthem concert setlist.
‘Feed the Machine’ drives home the need to question such institutions as government, religion and commercialism along with other so-called norms we have adopted into our everyday lives and how these entities desperately rely on us, the consumer, for their existence.
Along with their eponymous lead single released back on Feb. 1, follow-up singles included “Song on Fire” (April 28) and “Must Be Nice” (June 2). The synopsis gave fans a glimpse into what is a heavier record than reflected on previous releases since 2005 when they were at their peak giving us that edgy, sing-a-long rock flare, something that has been missing since their 2005 album, “All the Right Reasons,” with noted megahit, “Rockstar.”
The Canadian quartet is out to command and conquer with a pile driving, post-grunge hard rock sound within “Feed the Machine.” Many songs bring with it a breath of fresh air, most notably “Song on Fire” with its rock power ballad aesthetic and “Must Be Nice’s” lyrically mischievous nursery rhyme connotations.
Tight rock guitar riffs and lyrical phrasing encompass other tracks such as the incendiary “Coin for the Ferryman” as Kroeger bellows in the chorus, “We’re smokin’ dynamite / Too many fuses to light / (Got kingdom come, on the run) / Gonna steal, beg, and borrow / A thousand Fahrenheit and we’re about to ignite / So keep the throttle to the bottom.” “Home” tells of betrayal and guilt through introspection as Kroeger belts out, “Well, home ain’t what I’d call it / When I’m the only ghost walkin’ through the hallways / The pain gets so much clearer / When the one to blame is standing in the mirror.”
Two Tracks, “The Betrayal – Act III” continues this theme along with instrumental closer, “The Betrayal – Act I.” “For the River” is in daring, full ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ mode with guitar harmonics laying down rhythmic tension in the verses as the track later reveals a masterful guitar solo (remember those?) fueled on ‘80s rock/metal reminiscent of Winger, Van Halen or just about any other glam band guitarist of the era. Welcome to post post-grunge. ‘80s rock guitar has perhaps come full circle.
“Feed the Machine” delivers a full-on sonic rock/metal assault with deeper lyrical insights balanced with classic Nickelback themes. The group has gifted us an album that is sure to add to their anthemic concert catalog along with the notion of picking up where they left off in 2005, the Nickelback we all knew and loved. However, they still have more work to do with future album releases to fully regain and maintain the rock star momentum they left behind a decade ago.