Thanks to their dreadful, inescapable power ballad “Lips of an Angel,” Hinder have been lumped in with the grim post-grunge likes of Nickelback, Puddle of Mudd and 3 Doors Down. But as their second album, Take It to the Limit, proves, these subtlety-averse dudes are far more interested in emulating the hair-metal sound of bands like Poison, Ratt and, especially, Mötley Crüe. Limit has its share of horrifyingly awful sludge ballads (“Last Kiss Goodbye,” “Far From Home,” “Thing for You”) and is about as authentic as Bret Michaels’ hair. But its shameless appropriation of ’80s-rock excess does result in a few fun moments.
“Use Me,” “Up All Night” and the title track (featuring Crüe guitarist Mick Mars) are all catchy, fist-pounding anthems that will no doubt sound great in arenas and would probably fit perfectly on one of those Monsters of Rock compilations that they sell on TV late at night. Unlike their peers in Buckcherry, though, Hinder don’t ever look below the surface to deal with the seedy underbelly of hedonism that set the more memorable ’80s rockers (Guns N’ Roses, Crüe) apart from their disposable competition. Instead, they pack the lyrics with tired platitudes, even nicking a number of titles from their idols (“Up All Night” from Slaughter, “Heaven Sent” from Dokken and “Without You” from the Crüe themselves).
Ultimately, Limit is more tiring than invigorating, dominated by oppressive overproduction and pathetic audience pandering (“The Best Is Yet to Come” is basically a rewrite of Nickelback’s “Photograph”). Hinder aim for the Mötley Crüe of 1986, but they end up much closer to the Mötley Crüe of 2008.