Review Summary: For the fans, it still feels like a Hinder release, and you will enjoy it for sure, and for non-fans, well, this is hardly gonna change your mind.
By the time 2012 arrived, rock music was already dead in the mainstream. The last few releases from popular post grunge bands all got panned ("All American Nightmare", "The Truth Is...", "Black Butterfly", "Here and Now")and failed to reach any significant chart success. After their decline in the mainstream, many bands made an attempt to change their sound to either pop or they got heavier.
Hinder certianly wasn't one of them, since we have, for the fourth time in a row, a post grunge record. The record title may fool you; this ain't a freakshow. More than half of the record are ballads, probably the softest Hinder have ever released. It is once again a pretty short disc with 11 new tracks for Oklahoma's favorites.
That being said, Hinder did took some 'risks'; they tried a bit more electronic and dance music effects on some of the heavier tracks, while also adding pop/country taste on some of the ballads.
The record starts off with two heavier tracks tho. Lead-off single "Save Me" is a very energetic way to open this thing up. It's loud, it's edgy (oddly enough) and Winkler sounds very good. However, it is one of the most generic hard rock songs they've ever done. The riff is so been-there-done-that, it's hard to think this actually an original song (even by Hinder standards). I have a problem with riffs that go 0-3-5 in powerchords; they are over - used. And boring may I add, and it makes the next track "Ladies Come First" almost as equally generic. It is a standard sex affair already seen in Hinder, but it is in drop A tuning, so it sounds a lot better than the opening cut. The guitar sounds like Joe Garvey actually had fun, it's catchy, but the issue is in the rhythm section this time around.
Drums truly sound like they're on autopilot more often than not, which sucks since Cody Hanson is a decent drummer. As far as freakshow goes - by far it does disappoint as an album, but not as a freakshow. Song in drop A and edgy-in-your-face track certianly are not something Hinder is known for.
However, it's time for ballads, and well, 5 out of 6 next tracks are ballads. While doing that on a record is not something terrible in itself, it gets tiring when they are all slow and similar. And yes, some of them like "Get Me Away From You" and "Should Have Known Better" are painfully paint by numbers. But there are some decent ones too, like the poppy "Is It Just Me", which does not sound really like a Hinder track that much, or flat out country "Anyone But You", which features soft voice from Winkler, actually nicely written romantic lyrics, and a lot of twang. It's honestly not that bad of an attempt. But the only truly great ballad is "I Don't Wanna Believe", with beautiful piano and lead guitar riffs, soft piano progressions and overdriven guitar in the verses and a louder chorus with memorable hook. It honestly stands tall surrounded by mostly just okay or either bland ones.
They are hit or miss as a record songs, but as a freakshow - goddamnit Hinder, do these songs do not equate to freakshow. They are all, ALL, love oriented and heartfelt.
However, I left the best for last. The rest of the rock songs are a big step-up from "All American Nightmare"'s. Not to mention they sound - pretty damn creative for once. "Freakshow" has a pretty good climbing riff with some great rhythm guitar work and lyrics about a very dysfunctional family literally equivalent to freakshow. It is fun and energetic, as well as another party-jam "See You in Hell", which again uses a lot of references towards famous people, a lot of good guitarwork and is so sing-songy that it's hard not to have fun while listening.
However, the best track, in my opinion, is the closer, "Wanna Be Rich". It isn't about them wanting to be rich. Actually it is about how easy is to become famous for having no talent or skill, and how said people live expensive lifestyles, and stuff like that. I agree with pretty much everything they said here, it is as great as a message you will get on a Hinder song. Not to mention it has a great, almost dance beat to it. It ends a pretty inconsistent record on a high note.
At the end of the day, this is still one of the Hinder's weakest offering with Winkler, since it is filled with way too much ballads, that weren't even that good to begin with, and some overly generic rock songs, like the opening cut. Still tho, there is lot less mysogyny on here than on "All American Nightmare", songs are catchier and better crafted, and there is honestly nothing truly awful that is worth hating. For the fans, it still feels like a Hinder release, and you will enjoy it for sure, and for non-fans, well, this is hardly gonna change your mind.
Wanna Be Rich
I Don't Wanna Believe
See You in Hell