Radio rock is a crowded closet with many outfits. Giants like Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, and Seether dominated the airwaves. Band after band jumped in and out of the wagon. Most, like Crossfade, were a mere flash in the pan. Painfully generic songs either copied an existing band, or were catchy enough to get stuck in one’s head for a few months. The genre was a cesspool of leftovers. Countless acts couldn’t wait to melt into the scene, get their 5 minutes of fame, score a few bucks, and fade out. Puddle of Mudd, Theory of a Deadman, and countless others fade in and out of relevancy. Just when you think they’re gone, BOOM, a new single drops. Each act had the same sort of formula: they release that *one* measly single that moves people for a few months, and they skyrocket to the top. Shinedown, though, was different.
Hailing from the southern rock breeding ground of Jacksonville, the quartet bubbled under the radar with ‘45’ and ‘Fly from the Inside’ being their namesake. It wasn’t until ‘Save Me’ the band gained the necessary attention. They showed potential, which is something most of the acts previously mentioned didn’t have. Shinedown had more than novelty appeal. Many assumed they were the next “it” band, as pretentious as that is, Sound of Madness
might even convince listeners. An album developed over the course of 18 months riddled in turmoil, lineup changes, and shortcomings, Brent Smith had a singular vision Sound of Madness
would be not only Shinedown’s biggest album, but their *best* album.
A lot was riding on this record. Shinedown was on the verge of shattering the glass ceiling and grasping the brass ring. Smith went as far to record a rumored 60 singles in the studio. I bet readers are starting to see where the name spurred from. Clocking in under 45 minutes with a mere 11 songs, Sound of Madness
boasts familiar themes of love, loss, and addiction. These rock clichés aren’t the only problems, but we’ll get to those later. ‘Devour’ is a sudden rush of adrenaline to get listeners rocking on the first note. A blaring riff, powerhouse vocals, and grooving atmosphere immerses listeners into a thrill ride. The resonating chorus relieves the tension for mere seconds before starting up again.
A good start is all Sound of Madness
has to offer. We quickly learn the first 6 tracks are the entire album. Nothing changes past what we already heard. ‘Sin with a Grin’ is a rehash of ‘Devour’ and ‘Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide’ is a nu-metal inspired track similar to ‘Sound of Madness.’ Although ‘Cyanide…’ livens up the latter half of the album, it’s not much of a saving grace. Quite frankly, the album peaks. ‘What a Shame’ is a straightforward narrative about witnessing self-destruction. It’s a rather overlooked track and is one of the better written ballads on Sound of Madness
. The bluesy atmosphere is a nice touch to stand out from the others.
‘Breaking Inside’ also experiments with a more contemporary atmosphere. The intro is light, airy, and dramatic. Although it has a generic melody, the concept of ‘Breaking Inside’ is interesting. Most songs suffer from that same criticism of having a cheap melody. The titular track is the most obvious victim, and in my opinion, the worst song on the album. ‘Call Me’ is a somber ending to an otherwise oddly paced record. Although emotional, the song doesn’t add anything ‘If You Only Knew’ didn’t already say. Both are very similar in context and further continues the redundancy of Madness
Sound of Madness
does have that big record feel Smith desired to emulate. All songs are produced well and vary in style. Madness
mostly suffers from lack of originality and notoriety. Few songs are notable. Quick, think of 3 songs that aren’t ‘Devour,’ ‘Sound of Madness,’ or ‘Second Chance.’ You’re left with ‘If You Only Knew,’ maybe ‘The Crow & the Butterfly.’ The third spot is probably a tossup between any of the album tracks. As you can see, none are everlasting. Long story short, good songs that should be great songs.
Smith’s vision for Sound of Madness
was a knock on wood. Shinedown achieved the success of their vision, but marginally reached the quality they hope. Although separating themselves from the nu-metal label they had, which to this day I still don’t understand, they really only achieved average radio quality music. Sure they are among the better side of radio rock, but what else is there" The album is just good. There’s nothing innately special about Sound of Madness
. It’s safe to call Madness
their best work so far, but Shinedown overrated themselves
through numerous rereleases. That, again, raises the question as to what there is to brag about.
That isn’t to bash Madness
overall. The album exhibits the effort put forth by the bands involved. Sound of Madness
is far from the worst rock album ever made. It serves the purpose of giving people something to listen to when they’re bored or want something easy to rock to. I would dare say the original cut of Madness
could easily rank in the top 10 of early 00’s radio rock albums. Had Shinedown not rode the album into oblivion, they might have had something special. The problem is Shinedown never evolved past the record. Sound of Madness
proves all Shinedown needs is a second chance.
What a Shame