Review Summary: Shinedown brings some fresh blood to a genre that has been stuck in a rut for far too long. However, their potential ends up outweighing the goods they deliver.
Let's start with the good of this album. First, while it's certainly not mind-blowing, the guitar-work is by no means boring and can be fairly interesting. There are even some tasteful solos, but don’t expect any Malmsteen-esque work here. As far as interesting riffs and guitar lines go, Jasin Todd puts forth a solid effort.
Vocalist Brent Smith alternately channels Chris Cornell and 3 Doors Down's Brad Arnold. The former, fortunately, takes precedence, but when Smith regresses to Arnold's generic whining the vocals suffer. Also fortunately, Smith does a very impressive job imitating Cornell. In this respect, the vocals overall on the album are very well done.
The rest of the band is solid, but is relegated to the back of the mix as is typical in mainstream rock and post-grunge bands.
Another strength of the album as a whole is the inclusion of some slower songs such as “I Dare You” and “Beyond the Sun.” This serves to break up the monotony that is inherent in a band such as Shinedown, despite their efforts.
The 7 minute “Lady So Divine” stands out like a penguin in the desert of this album; the last half of the song is an extended instrumental section that is typically not expected from a mainstream band. Maybe the initials of the song (LSD) inspired it. In any case, the song sounds like it had some influence from Queens of the Stone Age. One of the stronger songs is “Heroes,” which starts with a cool bass roll and transitions into a hard rocker. Predictably, the most yawn-inducing song is the radio single that the album spawned, “Save Me.”
This album is an honest effort from a band that genuinely seems to love just rocking and playing for their fans. However, nothing about the album could be considered profound, from the musicianship to the lyrics to the vocals. Additionally, despite Shinedown's tweaks to their take on the genre, their music still feels too formulaic and generic. I sense potential here; I just don't see it being executed yet.
Check Out: “Heroes,” “Lady So Divine,” “Atmosphere”