Review Summary: “Superfiction” is better than the majority of the material being put out now, or ever, by most of their contemporaries, but it will impress no one that doesn't have the Cold spider tattooed on their arm.
It’s a shame people only know Cold because of “Stupid Girl” not only because the song totally sucks but it was also the first hint they were about to throw themselves on the train bee-lining for sellout city. It’s ironic that “Stupid Girl” would be the beginning of the end for Cold because it was the most successful (yet worst) song off “Year of the Spider,” a well-executed, more commercialized version of their indisputable post-grunge classic “13 Ways to Bleed on Stage.” Scooter Ward must have noticed “Stupid Girl” charting well because he tried to write 11 tamed down versions on their 2005 release “A Different Kind of Pain,” a career-killing album in a questionable genre made especially worse by the fact Cold used to be awesome. A different kind of suck it was, and the once mighty Cold was forced into a six year hiatus, leaving fans to wonder if the enormously angsty/sensitive Ward would actually come out alive.
Cold are back in 2011 and following the required cliché for bands coming off a hiatus, proclaiming them fully revitalized. The good news for Cold is “Superfiction” is a vast improvement to “A Different Kind of Pain” and has a “Year of the Spider”-lite feel to it. The bad news is improving on “A Different Kind of Pain” is no more noteworthy than being the strongest dude in a room full of anemic paraplegics. With a 6 year break, it would have been wise for Cold to revert back to the unleashed rawness and powerful sincerity that saturated “13 Ways,” but the unfortunate circumstance is its blatantly obvious Ward has decided to write a few radio-ready singles and mail the rest of the album in, completing the last required step to become a mainstream post-grunge outfit.
“Wicked World” is predictably the lead single and briefly generates hope that Cold might actually be back. “What Happens Now” is sort of old-school Cold and is carried well by the quintessential combination of ambience and that big-time hook. “Emily” is a ferociously melodic exercise in writing a hair-raising chorus and is one of the best songs Cold has written, and this combo punch will probably save them enough to put out another album about 4 years from now. Unfortunately, the rest of the album tanks faster than Chad Kroeger submitting his resume for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. “American Dream” is clearly designed for radio in the sense it sounds like Ward called up Chris Daughtry, the pretty dude from Lifehouse, and whoever is fronting The Calling these days for an oiled-up circle jerk song-writing session. Songs like “The Break,” “Welcome to my World,” and “Flight of the Superstar” have moments of promise but showcase an alarming trend that Ward has lost the gravel in his guts and most importantly in his voice. There are moments scattered through where he sounds entirely different in both tone and effort, perhaps providing the motivational explanation why over 50% of “Superfiction” sounds like Cold walked up to that machine in Breaking Benjamin’s basement that pumps out bland, uninspired, clichéd songs to make sure a struggling mainstream rock band actually has enough material to fill out an album. The cost is always half of their dignity and almost 100% of their balls, but we’ve seen it before and they were long lost anyway.
It has to be difficult for a band in a genre that usually carries a two album shelf-life, and Cold is no different. The really unfortunate thing is they are never given credit for what they accomplished before they actually got popular, and once that happened Ward either lost any motivation to kick ass or just decided to take an extremely unwise direction, swallowed up by the record sales pressure machine. To be fair, “Superfiction” is better than the majority of the material being put out now, or ever, by most of their contemporaries, but it will impress no one that doesn't have the Cold spider tattooed on their arm. Ward once powerfully proclaimed “you think you’re half as good as me? The only thing you’ll ever be is just a way for me to bleed on this stage.” Cold used to bleed onstage, bleed passion, and display well executed angst. Since 2005, they’ve been bleeding from somewhere else, maybe just a little less this time around.