When the Smoke Clears

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Hinder bid farewell to lead singer Austin Winkler after 2012's Welcome to the Freakshow, and along with him he took a fair amount of the band's vulgar strut. This isn't to say 2015's When the Smoke Clears, Hinder's first album with Marshal Dutton as lead singer, isn't without its tasteless moments. They sing the praises of booze two or three times -- once to a modulated, diluted Alice in Chains grind ("Intoxicated") -- and they'll carelessly throw profanity into choruses, but these curse words are easy to ignore underneath the heavy studio sheen conjured by co-producers Cody Hanson and Dutton. Hinder basically use When the Smoke Clears as evidence that they've never found a Sunset Strip sound they've disliked. They channel all the gutter grime and pomp of hair metal into this album, then polish it so it sounds like a crossover from the golden age of the Diamond Record hangover. This may mean the record is out of time -- willfully so, of course -- but the living in the past is more palatable with Dutton's studio-ready chops than Winkler's ladder-climbing desperation. Sometimes, bland is better than sheer ugliness.

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