Review Summary: A mixed bag that shows the start of a decline for one of the best mainstream rock bands.
was released as the first single, most of the expectations for Amaryllis
were squashed. A band that had provided quality mainstream rock for three albums had released an immature, lyrically abysmal song that didn’t even provide the catchy hooks that were always in abundance in previous works. Lead singles are often misleading, but Shinedown never had a problem picking good singles in the past either. Follow-up single Unity
was better but didn’t alleviate many concerns about Shinedown making a turn for the generic and forgettable.
So is Amaryllis
as much of a regression as it initially seemed? In some ways it is. The lyrical side has regressed greatly since their last outing. While Shinedown was never known for brilliant lyrics, Brent Smith knew how to strike emotions with simple stories in songs like 45
and What a Shame
, and there really isn’t very much of that on Amaryllis
is the worst of the bunch with the hollow “take a stand” lyrics, and the rest of the lyrics range from fairly good to poor. Nowhere Kids
and Wearing Me Out
are ruined by more of those awkward F-bombs dropped in a la Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide
. Again, lyrics were never the most important part of Shinedown’s music, but with such an inconsistent album they stand out more now.
However, despite its flaws, Amaryllis
is still able to stand up as a decent outing from Shinedown. The musicianship is better than would be expected at this point and keeps the album from sounding like the band’s much derided simple power chord contemporaries. Decently technical riffs, an increase in solos from the last album, some quick drum fills here and there, and a return of the string section help make Amaryllis
enjoyable from an instrumental perspective. For those who enjoyed the rockers on The Sound of Madness
bring more of that fast-paced riffing and energy and are two of the band’s most headbangable tunes yet. I’m Not Alright
is absolutely infectious largely thanks to its prominent horns, showing a more whimsical side to the band that we don’t usually get to see, and Through the Ghost
makes excellent use of the strings to create a sweeping finale to the album.
Backed by a solid instrumental performance, Brent Smith is still the strongest asset to the band. His powerful voice is what made them stand apart in the first place, and he performs well throughout the entirety of the album. While the often clunky lyrics and hit and miss songwriting take away from this, the man’s voice certainly hasn’t worsened (For My Sake
is proof of that). What’s missing is a powerhouse track to let his voice really
shine that was present on all of the band’s previous albums. The power of his voice is sometimes lost because every ballad aims for sounding as big as possible. Although this approach sometimes works on Amaryllis
, a couple of stripped-down songs that give more focus to Brent’s voice would do wonders for the band, since they’ve proved in the past that they can do these well.
is a decent continuation of what worked on The Sound of Madness
. It’s far from a direct copy of that album, but it follows the template of more aggressive rockers and sweeping ballads, only this time around it’s not as consistent. So if you didn’t enjoy its predecessor, you probably won’t like Amaryllis
. Otherwise, it’s perfectly enjoyable despite its flaws, and there’s still plenty of potential here for them to improve upon in the future. If they get rid of songs like Bully
then they’ll be on the right track.
Top Tracks: I’m Not Alright, Enemies, Amaryllis, Through the Ghost