When the Smoke Clears

The End
rating icon 6.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Rather Hate than Hurt
02. Hit the Ground
03. Wasted Life
04. If Only for Tonight
05. Intoxicated
06. Dead to Me
07. Foolish Eyes
08. Nothing Left to Lose
09. Letting Go
10. I Need Another Drink

There's no mystery what you get with Oklahoma mainstream rockers HINDER. They play Average Joe music for Average Joes looking to get ripped, show off their fashionable tattoos and hopefully score on the weekends. A scrap or two is optional. As new vocalist/acoustic guitarist Marshall Dutton sings on "I Need Another Drink" from the band's fifth full-length album, "When the Smoke Clears", "I've got lower class dreams, I need another drink." Endpoint.

Outside of Dutton's replacement of former singer Nolan Neal and of course, Austin Winkler before him, nothing's really changed in the HINDER camp. There is their hop to new label The End Records, which has apparently changed its face or least expanded from the avant garde and death metal fronts it once made its name with. You can expect the new EVERCLEAR album to be delivered by The End and they also have TRAPT, BETTER THAN EZRA and ALIEN ANT FARM, all one-time FM heavies. Take it as you will.

For HINDER's purposes, "When the Smoke Clears" is barely different than their preceding albums, though they do try to shake things up a tad with a few country shakes and agro chuffs in spurts. Otherwise, it's the same game as before, light rockers and ballads heavily leaned upon the jilted love theme that's become cliché in music, i.e. "Nothing Left to Lose", "Dead to Me", "Rather Hate than Hurt", "Letting Go" and "Foolish Eyes". Marshall Dutton turns the tables by vocally seducing a fine little number away from her boyfriend in a one-night-stand on "If Only for Tonight". Ye-bang.

Conclude limited lyrical prospectus with a couple of rocked-up drink-offs on "Intoxicated" and "I Need Another Drink", with the former song using the subject matter as a way of purging anger. Without trying to moralize, drinking should be more fun than this, since nobody likes a mean drunk.

Since HINDER is comfortable in their AOR, post-grunge skins, "When the Smoke Clears" is, stated simply, for their fans only. Marshall Dutton is an easy fit for the band as he sticks to mid-range, grizzling up only when needed. Mike Rodden's snappy bass lines are enjoyable enough, Cody Hanson's always in the pocket with his rhythms, while Joe "Blower" Garvey and Mark King roll their parts agreeably. The problem is pedestrian songwriting that never really catches fire. As veterans of the rock scene, HINDER should be pushing themselves far more than they've purported to do on this album.

Granted, this is a band that has enjoyed great success and "When the Smoke Clears" should be able to move plenty of units, even in this sales-strapped market. Like them or not, HINDER plays music designed to fill up high profile bars and summer festivals where units of alcohol are measured with more importance than CDs and tour shirts. Part of moving brews and shots is writing those Average Joe songs with a ribald empathy for those looking for nothing more than to get shitfaced and sing along to relatively safe rock music. If that doesn't apply to you, you likely never got this far in the review.

Author: Ray Van Horn, Jr.
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