Shinedown
Us And Them


4.0
excellent

Review

by Austin USER (41 Reviews)
July 26th, 2010 | 34 replies | 11,986 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The debut may have been all about Brent Smith, but Us and Them brings the rest of the band up a few notches.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

Leave A Whisper was a promising debut for this young band from Jacksonville. Brent Smith’s powerful vocals and the success of 45 guaranteed that Shinedown had capabilities beyond your average hard rock band. Sure, it was often musically bare and occasionally suffered from a lack of variety, but the passion was undeniable, and it was a great debut despite its flaws.

Us and Them is typically considered the weakest of the band’s albums, and it’s a shame because this album was an artistic success that fixed many of the problems of the debut. Although Smith doesn’t hit the highs he hit on Leave A Whisper, it’s much more complete as an album, with the rest of the band taking several steps forward. The first word that comes to mind when most think of Shinedown probably isn’t “musicianship”, but this album demonstrates that Shinedown is more than capable of working as a band rather than a supporting cast for a gifted vocalist.

Jason Todd’s guitarwork is what shows the biggest improvement on Us and Them. His playing certainly wasn’t poor on Leave a Whisper, but he didn’t do much more than very basic down-tuned riffs and virtually no solos. Here he crafts much more memorable riffs and solos that act as a counterpart to Smith’s vocals. Heroes kicks things off with a bang, with a fast-paced riff and Smith’s fiery vocals leading the way. It’s a fun hard rocker capped off with a strong guitar solo. The new direction from Shinedown is made clear, dropping all nu-metal elements from the debut and focusing on pure southern-influenced hard rock. This makes for plenty of enjoyable hard rock songs. Yer Majesty, Trade Yourself In and Atmosphere are all driven by memorable hard rock riffs and guitar solos. The latter contains the strongest southern influence on the album, and it’s also one of the album’s biggest highlights, with Smith adding more of a bluesy tone to his vocals. Begin Again is also note-worthy for being the heaviest song on the album, with edgier vocals, heavier riffs, and more unique drumming than usual.

The track where Shinedown really goes out of the box is Lady So Divine. This is a 7-minute long progressive rock-style epic, and it’s the surprise highlight of the album. This song demonstrates a high level of skill from every member, with highly technical drum fills and creative guitarwork. The song’s extended instrumental section is very impressive, with the strongest guitar solos on the album. Even radio-rock skeptics ought to check this song out.

All this isn’t to say that the band had ditched all emotion on this record, because Smith still displays plenty of power and emotion in his voice, it’s just more restrained. Once again, the ballads are what give him the most room to display his voice. The dramatic Beyond the Sun and closer Some Day are excellent, but Shed Some Light is where Smith really gets to shine; the song’s final chorus section contains the most powerful vocals on the album. It’s also greatly benefited by the violin, which avoids being cliché and contributes well to the mood of the song.

Flaws are hard to come by, and while Us and Them might not always hit the individual highs of Leave A Whisper, it’s much stronger as a whole. Sure, Save Me and I Dare You are radio-friendly singles, but they’re far from weak, and the latter is surprisingly hard-hitting for a radio single. The only filler to be found is the poem that opens the album, but in this age of MP3’s one can easily discard that and begin the album more fittingly with Heroes.

It’s not surprising that fans gained from the band’s debut would be a little disappointed that Brent Smith’s voice doesn’t reach the Chris Cornell-esque highs on Us and Them. But what the album might lack in raw power is made up for by great musicianship and strong songwriting, and it’s an excellent listen from start to finish. A truly underrated effort from Shinedown, Us and Them should not be forgotten.

Top Tracks: Atmosphere, Lady So Divine, Heroes, Shed Some Light, Begin Again



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Comments:Add a Comment 
tiesthatbind
July 26th 2010



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice, I'm the first non-3 review for this.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
July 26th 2010



14513 Comments


Well you already know that I think this is a step below their debut, but I'll be damned if "Beyond the Sun", "Lady So Devine" and "Someday" don't absolutely kick ass. My main beef with this album is that Smith seems to have less passion, he simply sings along where he would have growled in Leave a Whisper and sounds harmonic when a scream would have been more fitting. But you are correct in everything you said, especially about the rest of the band becoming more involved and pushing more of a southern rock style.

good review too

tiesthatbind
July 26th 2010



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man.

acorncheese
July 26th 2010



7115 Comments


I know everyone in the band personally, and I still hate them. I tell them every time we talk.

Romulus
July 26th 2010



8373 Comments


Great review, I'll ask for a flag for you cause I really dislike my review of this.

Did I ever mention this is my favorite album from these guys?

BigHans
July 26th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Shed Some Light rules.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
July 26th 2010



14513 Comments


next step: top my "sound of madness" review (should be easy seeing as that was my first ever music review)

Emim
July 26th 2010



26195 Comments


I just can't get in to Shinedown...



Great review as always, ties.

tiesthatbind
July 26th 2010



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, guys.

"The Sound of Madness is Beautiful"...I don't think I can top that.

Hm...a neg. Oh well.

Ire
July 26th 2010



41456 Comments


nice review bro

i didn't neg

tiesthatbind
July 26th 2010



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad to hear it, syn.

DoubtGin
July 26th 2010



6686 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Atmosphere is such an underrated song by them; good review btw, pos'd

Dylan620
July 26th 2010



993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beyond the Sun, Atmosphere, Some Day, Begin Again, I Dare You, Lady So Devine, and Fake are all some of their best songs. Great review ties, as always.

Digging: Mudvayne - L.D. 50

Dylan620
July 26th 2010



993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Am I the only one who doesn't like Shed Some Light all that much? It's great musically, but the vocals kinda ruin it for me.

TheSpirit
July 26th 2010



16662 Comments


My least favorite Shinedown album but it's pretty good still. Nice review

Digging: Sexdrome - Grown Younger

tiesthatbind
February 28th 2011



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah, I forgot how good Lady So Devine was.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
February 28th 2011



14513 Comments


I forgot how good this CD is

tiesthatbind
February 28th 2011



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well I'm glad I could help you remember.

Listening through the whole discography right now.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
February 28th 2011



14513 Comments


Do you know if they have plans to release anything?

tiesthatbind
February 28th 2011



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They have a live album coming up, but I've seen nothing talking about the next studio album.



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