Review Summary: Shinedown come back angrier than ever.
Brent Smith’s Shinedown have received a fair amount of criticism in recent years. After a fairly heavy, musically and at times lyrically, debut album Shinedown decided to take a softer route for their follow up albums. Us & Them is an often bashed album, mainly for the complete departure the band decided to take from the first album. Instead of heavy distorted riffs, we got more melodic and bluesy ones. Their sophomore record contains some of the band’s best songs, including ‘Lady So Devine’ and ‘Beyond the Sun’, but at least half the album could be classified as filler.
Sound of Madness is viewed in a more positive light, even though as an overall album it’s by far Shinedown softest and most pop influenced album. ‘What A Shame’ is the highlight from the album, mixing brilliant lyrics, a catchy and emotional chorus and an interesting enough musical arrangement. As the wait for the band’s fourth release Amaryllis began, Shinedown decided to ease the fans pain by releasing a couple of individual song. ‘Diamond Eyes’ showed an aggressive side which had really been shown since their debut release.
Amaryllis is by far Shinedown’s heaviest release. Despite that Smith’s vocals remain consistent and powerful, and also the melodies are still there. ‘Bully’ and ‘Unity’ were released as lead singles, and they give a decent enough representation of the album, even though they are two of the weaker tracks here. ‘Bully’ has some relatable lyrics, even though at times the song feels like it’s trying too hard. The two lead single shows the structure for most of the album, with half of the tracks being just heavy songs that never really let down and the other half being a mix of a heavy chorus and more mellow verses. ‘Unity’ has a sweet piano beat, but the lyrics are uninspired and the chorus has the dreaded lyrics of ‘Put Your Hands In the Air’, which might very well be the most over used lyrics of all time.
The best song on the album has to be ‘Enemies’. What a track! This is a song that could easily be used as a definition of hard rock. Duel riffs start us off before a heavy drum beat comes in. The guitars, for once, are highlights here with a machine gun like sound. The chorus is addictive as hell too; this could easily be a hit single. ‘Adrenaline’ is a similar song, and it opens the album with a fast drum beat before some simple but furious guitar work comes in. The chorus is catchy, if not particularly memorable. ‘Nowhere Kids’ is another highlight, another heavy track, with a particularly entertaining pre-chorus.
‘I’ll Follow You’ starts off with a nice piano intro and contains some sweet synths throughout, as Smith starts to sing about a lost love. The song picks up pace for an emotional chorus, and even contains a pretty decent melodic solo that actually for longer than five seconds. The title track is another song that tries to pull at your heart strings. It’s an acoustic driven track that also gets heavier for the chorus.
‘I’m Not Alright’ and ‘For My Sake’ are mid tempo rockers that work because both of their choruses deliver the gods. ‘My Name (Wearing Me Out)’ is an attitude filled number with some really aggressive lyrics, although they aren’t particularly impressive.
Like all of Shinedown’s albums, Amaryllis ends with a softer number. After the minimalistic ‘Call Me’, Smith and the gang decided to go for a more epic outro. The song is built around a melancholic acoustic chords and a generally grandiose feel. The song soars for the chorus, and with each repeated chorus the band aids more effects and intensity. It’s the sweetest song on the album and a suitable way to end the album.
Amaryllis seems to be Shinedown’s best album. It’s an aggressive, but still melodic release. Brent Smith’s lyrics and vocals are still the focus of the band, but the musical composition of the tracks, although still not mind-blowing, is improved on quite a bit.