Oklahoma sourced metal band Hinder’s drop of Welcome to the Freakshow proclaims itself as spanning the genres, by moving on from their dirty American rock roots. A valiant effort, but as a record I don’t think it always works. The pop influences are sweet, but makes Hinder sound a bit more like Kelly Clarkson than their tattooed hair metal image would suggest. Piano intros and even country influences are interwoven into the record, but Hinder are at their most powerful when they stick to their roots of badass, whisky-drinking rock and roll, reminiscent of 1980s heavy metal.
Welcome to the Freakshow opens with ‘Save Me’, also their first single. The opening riff pans in stereo, making it sound a little bit nu metal for my taste, but it sounds accomplished. ‘Ladies Come First’ follows, and is by far the strongest track on the album. Lyrically it’s nothing groundbreaking, ‘you’re gonna drink, gonna dance on the bar / you gonna sing, screaming like you’re a star’ but the binge drinking and loose morals ethos is exactly the kind of rock and roll that makes you want to dance. The nightclubs described might more closely resemble a Mötley Crüe video than any establishment that I’ve ever visited, but this track is Hinder at their best.
‘See You In Hell’ has guitar-work which is memorable and impressive; heavy riffs decorated with sexy little licks, and an almost Van Halen-esque solo. Light hearted and thoroughly entertaining, but then the pace of the album is slowed right down with the following ballad ‘Anyone But You’. The slower songs are perfectly adequate. ‘Anyone But You’ is quite pretty, but it hasn’t really got anything on what makes Hinder striking.
The record closes with ‘Wanna Be Rich’ which concludes the album on a note that makesWelcome to the Freakshow memorable. The chorus is catchy as hell, and as the pounding riff fades out, frontman Austin Winkler bids us with a closing shout of ‘Wake the fuck up!’, leaving you a little bit befuddled and really quite tempted to play the album again.