The Long Road
After years of plugging away and refining their sound, the members of Nickelback found themselves on the verge of superstardom when "How You Remind Me" became 2002’s most-played song on U.S. radio. But this fourth album hardly finds the group taking it easy as it basks in newfound glories. Instead, The Long Road seethes with restlessness and rage, as if Chad Kroeger and his bandmates saw success as just another reason to push themselves harder. Working for the first time with producer Joey Moi, Nickelback lays into the songs here with a formidable sense of aggression, a quality most memorably epitomized by the Metallica-style assault and battery of "Believe It or Not." Elsewhere, Kroeger bolsters the menacing mood and bruising effect of the barrage he creates with lead guitarist Ryan Peake by tackling subjects that are just as heavy. On the thunderous "Because of You," he angrily describes an addiction's destructive impact on a relationship. Inspired by a real-life case of infanticide, "Throwing Yourself Away" paints the tough conditions that surround a tragedy. Even in the more avidly anthemic "Someday," Kroeger carries a heavy heart as he sings about the brighter times that always feel a little too far away. However caustic Kroeger’s view of relationships can be, his songs also demonstrate a hunger to break out of isolation and reach through to people. That quality’s clear in the sense of immediacy and urgency that he fosters in nearly every song he writes. And even if—like the romance in "Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good"—the good times always come with the knowledge they can’t last forever, Kroeger's still eager to celebrate rock’s ability to create connection and communion in "See You At the Show," the song that closes The Long Road with a break from the heavy weather that dominates the album. Celebrating the life of a band on tour in lines like "down the road and round the bend, we pray to God it never ends," Kroeger casts an alternately satirical and appreciative eye on his own situation as a rock 'n' roll frontman. And judging by how much he seems to be enjoying himself, that long road could never be long enough.