I first heard these guys about this time last year...local radio station started playing them, and I loved what I heard. Saw them in concert, and they were just awesome. These guys aren't exactly what I'd call innovators, but they do what they do pretty well. Like Ra, I think these guys are underappreciated, but they are not nearly as hard hitting as Ra, or Memento are.
Brent Smith - Vocals
Jasin Todd - Guitars
Barry Kerch - Drums
Brad Stewart - Bass
Fly From the Inside -
The first single, it's a powerful song, driven by Smith's vocals. He's probably the best member of the band, with some serious pipes on him. This song is pretty positive, and upbeat, but somehow maintains a somewhat moody vibe to it, at least in the guitars. Standard sort of song structure here, guitars are clean during the verses, picks up with distortion for the chorus/bridge etc. One of my favorite songs by them.
Left Out -
Opens up kind of mysteriously, with Brent whispering something over the guitar. Rips open with distorted guitar a few seconds later, with some overdubbing done that sounds kinda cool. Verse quiets it down again, with the same riff from the introduction playing behind it. Chorus busts open, and is done in two parts. Lyrics are somewhat cliched here, but that's Shinedown for you...well, I mean, they say in their little insert that this album was done for all the outcasts...meh. Bridge has a nice drumline going, it's not spectacular, but it drives the song over some moody vocals from Brent, before busting into another chorus or two.
Lost in the Crowd-
Opens with acoustic guitar, with a flanged clean guitar riff overdubbed over it...or maybe Brent is playing it, I could be wrong. This has a very laid-back feel to it, with slow drums and bass behind it all, allowing Brent to take his singing to the forefront. Chorus brings in some distortion, but the feel is still slow and laid back. Bridge has a nice guitar line to it, which actually breaks into a guitar solo, which although short, fits the song nicely. Another couple of choruses before we end this one.
No More Love -
Are we noticing a trend here? Distorted guitar (+ flange?) opens this one, it's kind of dark, before breaking into the verse, which keeps the distortion / flange going...they don't actually do the chorus here, but rather go into another verse, which has some overdubbed guitar in it which is pretty nice...prechorus, then the 'chorus' which isn't much, but allows Brent to take his singing into full gear yet again. Enter the bridge, with acoustic guitar, which is a nice break, and we get another verse, but it sounds nothing like the first two, as it is driven by the acoustic guitar this time....bust into another prechorus, or rather, a few of them, before hitting the chorus again, a few times for effect.
Better Version -
Opens with a cool guitar line, which gets overdubbed over another guitar part + the rest of the band. Actually, there are like 3 guitar lines here, it's very cool. Verse is calmer with a clean guitar line. Chorus is done in two parts, and brings back alot of the overdubbing from the beginning. Brent's singing is again a huge part of the song, a focal point, if you will. Bridge is done in two parts, and in terms of singing, is quite repetitive, but still, the change doesn't really hurt the song. The last few choruses really showcase Brent's range, as he gets really high up, but keeps his clarity, before fading out.
Burning Bright -
More acoustic / clean guitar to open this one, with some delay on the clean guitar actually. Very laid back feel here, especially in drums and bass. I almost feel sorry for Brad and Barry, because they haven't done much so far...although there is a semidecent bassline here. Bring on the distortion for the chorus, as usual, I think Brent did a little vocal overdubbing on this one, it sounds like he's got a countermelody behind it. Guitar line gets a little more interesting as the song progresses. Another verse/chorus, bring on a Bridge, which keeps the same feel as the chorus, but again, showcases Brent's singing abilities. Another couple of choruses, before another mini verse and fade out.
In Memory -
Opens up with interesting guitar samples, I think, and then breaks into somewhat heavyish distortion before turning it off for the verse. Hey, now Brad and Barry are actually doing something here, at least more than the last song. Distortion picks back up for the chorus, and again, Brent's vocals really drive the song. Small break before the next verse, and then we do it all again. Bridge comes up, and Jasin busts out some harmonics for it, sounds pretty cool, actually. A few more choruses, before a second sort of bridge comes up toward the end, before fading out.
All I Ever Wanted -
Opens with a nice clean guitar melody + overdubbing...somewhat of a laid back feel here in this song too, but it's not that slow, per se. Chorus picks up again, but I don't know, I don't feel this one as much as the other songs...repeat the cycle...bridge comes up with some decent guitar work, overdubbed...Brent comes back in, singing powerfully like he knows how...then back to another chorus or two, before bridging out of there.
Stranger Inside -
Opens up faster and distorted, before kicking into the main riff. Wow, I don't like the lyrics here, but meh. Bass actually drives this song, for once, with a deep line that keeps moving. Repeat the cycle, then bring on a bridge, which has an overdubbed guitar line, which is faster, and a repeat of the first few riffs. Meh, I thought this one kind of dragged on a bit.
Opens with some clean guitar, and a decent drumline. Sounds like they are playing in 7/4, or in 4/4 then 3/4, at least for the intro/verse, makes for an interesting sound. Brent's vocals are kind of haunting here...chorus picks up, it's a bit faster, louder...actually, that was the prechorus, not chorus, but the chorus sounds similar...another cycle. Bridge comes up, but I don't think it's that special in this song. Another chorus or so, and they repeat the odd-time section from the intro, and a gong hit at the end.
Crying Out -
Opens with some interesting guitar harmonics, and opens up quickly. This is their fastest, hardest song, and I like it quite a bit. Chorus isn't really that special, but I think the verse makes up for it a bit...the drumming is pretty good in this song I think, it's at least better than the other songs that've been done. After the usual cycle, bridge comes up, very percussion-driven, I like it. Few more choruses, with extra drumming, then fade out.
If you haven't heard this song at least once, I think you've been in a hole for the past few months or so. Lyrics are quite cliche I think, but the singing is superb in this one...it's very laid back for the entire song, except the bridge, and even then, it's not exactly upbeat or hard, even though the distortion is turned up. This is one of, or destined to be, one of those good songs that suffers from overexposure.
Again, these guys are not reinventing the wheel, at all, but they are driving a bit better than other bands out there, even if Brent seems to wear his heart on his sleeve a little too much. Brent's vocals soar over multiple layers of guitars, and a rhythm section that might be forgotten in a few years, but they do hold it down pretty well. If you want a good, above average rock record, pick this up. It's not spectacular, but I don't think it's as boring as some people have said it to be.
Fly from the Inside
Final Verdict: Above average radio rock. They really don't sound like anyone else I've listened to, and Brent's singing is top-notch. Underrated band, IMO, but they still won't be remembered as being innovators.
Final Rating: 6.5/10