Oklahoma Hall of Famers and American rock band Hinder have released their sixth studio album, The Reign, the second to feature vocalist Marshal Dutton. Their sound has definitely evolved since former vocalist Austin Winkler left the outfit in 2013, and with The Reign they dug deeper than they have before to express the emotional struggles that come as part of the package of the ‘rock and roll life.’ They say that, “The constant emotional expenditure that an artist must do in order to always be creating and the ups and downs of a career in music tends to lead to substance abuse and suicides. Unfortunately, the world has lost way too many music legends this way. Overall, this album is definitely darker and heavier than most of the past Hinder albums. However, for our old-school fans, it also has a few songs that have that signature Hinder sound.”
Hinder consists of band members Dutton (lead vocals), Joe “Blower” Garvey (lead guitar/backing vocals), Cody Hanson (drums), Mark King (rhythm guitar), and Mike Rodden (bass).
The album starts big and loud with the title track ‘The Reign,’ a little over three minutes of pure rock ‘n’ roll rush. It sets the tone for the album in its entirety, which is full of solid rock; life struggles, new beginnings, the consequences of choices we have made. Packed with heavy riffs carried superbly by the hands of Garvey and King that combine perfectly with the warm vocals of Dutton, ‘The Reign’ is definitely how you want to kick-start a rock album!
‘Burn it Down’ is slightly less quick to the punch, slowed right down and showcasing more of a vulnerability within the band’s core. The warmth of Dutton’s vocal abilities is demonstrated brilliantly, complimented by some instrumentals that will drag you deeper into the void. Might not be the quicker-paced, loud rock anthem that we’ve come to appreciate from Hinder, but softer melodic tracks are definitely welcomed by the fans who thirst for a calmer experience.
The album really finds its feet with the unquenchable ‘King of the Letdown,’ a harmonic driven, riff hysteria with a chorus built that is sure to have your blood pumping. The introduction to the track hooks you right from the get-go, and its combination of chaos and badassery sees the track transcend to unimaginable heights, leaving you on a high that won’t be topped until you’ve experienced Hinder live. The guitar work of Garvey and King, combined with the drum work of Hanson, is absolutely off the charts! Without a doubt one of their strongest showings since Dutton took over the reins.
In contrast to the previous track, the leading single of the album ‘Remember Me’ is definitely not the strongest. However, its selection is somewhat justifiable as the combination of hooking lyrics, layered over the top of strong, instrumentally up-tempo performances by Garvey, King, Hanson, and Rodden make it feel like it belongs. Still great listening by all means, just when compared to the Hinder standard is doesn’t quite reach expectation.
‘Too Late’ is packed with melodious brilliance; loud, overwhelming instrumental performances that compliment Dutton’s vocal talents perfectly – his range being showcased thoroughly throughout the track. It’s definitely a step up from ‘Remember Me,’ and returns you to a much more familiar sound. The country-esque feel of the track as a whole creates an ambience that will have you foot-stomping along with the band.
We are welcomed back to the stronger, fierce riffing of Hinder with ‘Another Way Out,’ with solid performances (yet again) from the combination of guitarists Garvey and King. Instrumentally, Hinder seem to always be at their best when showcasing their much heavier side, and there’s no doubt as to why Dutton was brought in as their new front man, with yet another solid performance from him, also.
What would a rock album be without the inclusion of some sexual innuendos? ‘Making it Hard’ is definitely one track you want to listen to when your little rockers aren’t in the room! Appropriately named, it’s not long until the reference is understood. The track is somewhat playful in its delivery, adding another layer to the already solid foundation that Hinder has built. The track, both lyrically and instrumentally, hooks you and leaves a permanent imprint on the brain. Hinder definitely make it hard to forget this track (see what I did there?).
‘Drink You Away’ is a ballad for the broken-hearted boozer, rounding up the band’s more sombre side with superb energy. Somewhat slower paced, like experienced early with ‘Burn it Down,’ the country-esque vibe created with ‘Too Late’ returns, and carries a brilliant sound throughout. With every album that’s released, there’s at least one track where you can close your eyes and allow the music to transport you to another plane; this is it for The Reign. Solid instrumental performances, partnered with Dutton’s warm vocals. Pack your bags and prepare for transportation.
Opening with a lot more bass and heavier tones, ‘Play to Win’ is ballsy, but (for myself) misses the mark. It could purely be me, don’t get me wrong, but it just doesn’t feel like a Hinder track, yet more so something we’d expect from a band like All Time Low, for example. Instrumentally there are solid performances, and Dutton’s vocals don’t disappoint, but it just doesn’t feel like it fits within the mould that The Reign has created. However, don’t allow my opinion to sway your own, as I know there’s going to be some fans out there that love this track.
‘Long Gone’ is a lot more sombre in its deliverance, likened a lot to ‘Drink You Away.’ Instrumentally driven, and complimenting the warmth of Dutton’s vocals brilliantly, ‘Long Gone’ is the break amidst the chaos that isn’t just welcomed, but necessary. Although softer in its deliverance, its sound still exerts the same energy that Hinder has demonstrated throughout, and lends yet another opportunity to look deeper within the band’s vulnerability.
The album ends with ‘Loser’s Salute,’ a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek track that is paired with solid instrumental, and vocal, performances. With lyrics that will conjure up some laughter, and riffs that will have music lovers salivating, it ticks so many boxes; however, it feels somewhat out of place. Think of a puzzle; there’s always one piece that has you wondering, “Have I placed that correctly?” ‘Loser’s Salute’ is that puzzle piece. Does it belong? Yes. Is it in the right place? I don’t think so.
The Reign is somewhat masterful. It has some slight misses, but as a whole is well grounded, and arguably their best album since Extreme Behaviour – it may not be as good as Extreme Behaviour, but The Reign possesses a unique power that exerts dominance, demonstrating that Hinder, although constantly evolving, still retain their ability to conjure up solid rock ‘n’ roll albums.