Review Summary: The Echo of Madness.
If the American radio rock scene were to be summarised in one band, it would most likely be Shinedown. Combining the commercial sensibility of Nickelback with the pedal-to-the-metal hard rock of Alter Bridge, they have the perfect formula for mainstream domination. While their sound is unashamedly American and obvious, their ability to pen both incendiary rock numbers and arena-made ballads is rarely rivalled, while in Brent Smith they have one of the finest voices in rock today.
Shinedown truly made their leap into the big leagues with their stellar third album ‘The Sound of Madness’, so it’s unsurprising that this, its successor, follows the blueprint quite closely. Like on 'Madness', the charge is lead by a white knuckle melodic thrashout, and the aptly named “Adrenaline” certainly charges the energy levels into the red. Shinedown shine brightest when they’re hitting the hardest, and like on ‘Madness’ the heaviest tracks are the standouts. “Enemies”, “Nowhere Kids” and in particular the dynamic-rich “My Name (Wearing Me Out”) all make their point effectively.
But this wouldn’t be a Shinedown album without a plethora of ballads, and on ‘Amaryllis’ they come in any colour you like. There’s the slow burning, optimistically inclined title track; the bluesy melancholy of “I Will Follow You”; and the string augmented farewell of “Through the Ghost”. Quality control has never been perfect for this band, and once again a couple of duds slip through, this time the over-ambitious and cheese-drenched pairing of “Unity” and “Miracle”.
Both “Bully” and “For My Sake” are big, stomping rock songs (similar to 'The Sound of Madness' title track) that sound absolutely massive, and while the former is hampered somewhat by poor lyricism, the latter is one of the finest songs the band have written to date. And most intriguingly, there's the Irish flavoured black sheep of the album, “I’m Not Alright”, a delightfully unconventional song that marries carefree, borderline psychedelic lyrics to brass accompaniments. It’s easily the most unique and interesting Shinedown have ever sounded. If they continue to expand their template, we could be in for a very exciting Album No. 5.
While “Amaryllis” is by no means a groundbreaking record, it’s undoubtedly a rather good one. Patchy though it is in places, it consolidates the band’s strengths and also expands into new territories for the group. And while Brent’s voice continues to be the band’s best weapon, their instrumental arsenal is certainly not misfiring. So bang this on your stereo and prepare for some good-old fashioned rocking.
Best Tracks: For My Sake, My Name (Wearing Me Out), I’m Not Alright