This is as frightening as it gets....

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This is as frightening as it gets. Forget the roaring, the wall of thrash guitars and the headache-inducing goth-metal ‘tunes’. Forget, in fact, everything [a]Silverchair[/a] brought you on their first two albums. Now that they’re sick of straightforward noise and with their 20s imminent, [a]Silverchair[/a] have turned soft-rock.

As Australian schoolboys who’d landed a record deal and couldn’t believe their luck (or others’ stupidity), [a]Silverchair[/a]’s previous love of no tunes and loud guitars was almost excusable. Rubbish, yes, but fairly normal for teenage boys. Their current urge to turn into Bryan Adams comes from a tedious desire to win over their fans’ parents and reeks of a record company development plan.

So over half of ‘Neon Ballroom’ is slow and string-laden. It’s more Manic Street Preachers than Metallica but the lyrics still betray their old selves (“Liberate the people that you hate”). The Sydney Symphony Orchestra turn up alongside famous pianists and school choirs. In massive rock ballad opener ‘Emotion Sickness’, it’s like Richard Marx in [I]The Phantom Of The Opera[/I]; in ‘Miss You Love’ the effect is more roughed-up boy band.

Marilyn Manson take note: this is how to really scare people.