Review Summary: Time moves forward, and nothing changes.
The album cover and title of Hinder’s fourth studio album in their decade-long career, Welcome to the Freakshow
, recalls a time in the late '80s where Mötley Crüe’s glam metal wildness was the epitome of how “freaky” and hard-hitting that mainstream rock ‘n’ roll had gotten at that point. It’s an image that has long since evolved into heavier, and more exciting things, but it’s an idea of what music is and can be that Hinder apparently outright refuses to believe has come to pass. The bar of how untamed hard rock can be has undoubtedly been raised since the days of the L.A. Sleaze Strip, but ten years into their career, Hinder is still content in limiting themselves by rehashing the same outdated material for a fourth consecutive studio album.
Absolutely nothing is different in the band’s approach this time around; for the fourth time in a row, Hinder strictly abides by the formula set on their debut album, Extreme Behavior
back in 2005, a formula consisting of one-dimensional hard rock anthems concerning the same old rundown of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, and power ballads fit for an arena. The primary issue here is the same exact issue that has plagued every one of Hinder’s previous efforts, the band are not in any way revivalists of their era of influence, they don’t take the inspiration from the '80s' brand of heavy metal and put their own spin on it, Hinder prefer to be shameless imitators of all the generic elements that comprise a time-stamped sound, and nothing more. Hinder pay tribute to their hard rock idols by trying to be exactly like them right down to the tee; only changing their musical and stylistic ideas by making it overly polished and processed.
This is commercial rock that is far out of its era of mass appeal, but it’s vapid all the same, so it just ends up sounding contrived and hallow. In this way, Hinder is sort of like an outdated version of Nickelback in that the music is overtly bland, but it doesn’t contain the appeasement to mainstream audiences to make up for the lack of substance with popularity. Hinder doesn’t really seem all that interested in making a sound from yesteryear more accessible either. They just rock out and expect the fans to come to them, as if in denial that a time they hold in high regard has come to a close.
The songs on Welcome to the Freakshow
are shells so devoid of anything that they are hardly worth mentioning. Essentially all of the eleven tracks on the album are rewrites of the collection of songs on Hinder’s previous album, which were rewrites of the songs on Hinder’s sophomore album, which were rewrites of the songs on the band’s debut, which were cheap, third-rate, carbon copy regurgitations of the stereotypes of '80s hard rock/heavy metal to begin with. It’s to the point where you don’t need to actually hear this album to know what it sounds like, you just need to hear one or two singles from Hinder and you have the general idea of the whole thing. Hell, you really don’t need to hear ANY Hinder album to know what the band sounds like; as long as you have a vague sense of the silhouette of '80s hard rock, you know what every Hinder album up until this point will sound like.
The only people Hinder are hindering, is ironically themselves. Their idea of how high the volume can be cranked up has be surpassed numerous times. One or two albums of this from them could have been tolerable, but four albums in of literally the same exact case is ridiculous and unforgivable at this point. Their continued persistence when their sound is so strung-out, worn out, and overstayed its welcome long ago, is mind-blowing, leaving Welcome to the Freakshow
as just another faceless and pathetic repackaged entry into their seemingly endless cycle of recycling their own material. The only explanation for this is that Hinder are obviously delusional. They have to be if they can’t see that even hardcore fans of the glam/arena rock days will find this album and the band’s entire body of work as vastly inferior mimics of the genre.