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Industrial-strength rock & roll is back with a vengeance on the earnest Silver Side Up by Nickelback. The band wastes no time in getting into its brand of dark, high-octane rock. The album opener "Never Again," about spousal abuse, thrusts out of the starting gate with rocket-fueled intensity. Lead singer/guitarist/lyricist Chad Kroeger does not mince words in his portrayals of the darker sides of the human experience, and that is what Silver Side Up is essentially about. Nickelback's music is issue-oriented on the domestic and personal front, and it's a refreshing change of pace in 2001's sea of angry rockers. Another familial subject is tackled on the pounding "Too Bad." The song describes an emotionally and physically absent father figure as seen through the eyes of a regretful adult-child looking back. The cut that broke the band to mainstream audiences is "How You Remind Me," a thundering, mid-tempo rock track marked by thick chords and a brooding tone. Kroeger's voice is filled with weariness as he well captures the self-defeated feelings one experiences when being emotionally dissected by a lover. Such words as "'cause living with me must have damn near killed you" painfully zero in on the breakdown of the human spirit when it's badgered enough. Because, sadly, many have found themselves in this situation, the song connects with listeners. Coupled with a powerful and moody soundtrack, it's no wonder it took off on the radio. Grunge pays a visit on the set's closing number, "Good Times Gone." This well-crafted song slowly builds in intensity -- from the intro's fingered guitar notes and understated vocals, to the gradual addition of instruments, to Kroeger's explosive vocal release at the song's end, which retreats back into softly strummed guitar notes. "Good Times Gone" is reminiscent of a Pearl Jam number, and this is no surprise; Silver Side Up was co-produced by Rick Parashar, who has worked with Seattle's finest. Nickelback's style is edgy aggressive rock peppered with a taste of grunge. The band can easily sit alongside Staind and 3 Doors Down, among other like acts. However, what Nickelback has in spades and what gives the group an upper hand over its peers is intensity and raw passion. Some bands finger the crap out of their guitars and relentlessly beat away at the drums, crafting songs that boast the intensity of an electric storm. Nickelback ups the ante by offering realistic storytelling that listeners can relate to.
Review by Liana Jonas
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