Release Date: March 27, 2012
This week, Shinedown released, Amaryllis, their long-awaited follow-up to 2008’s Sound of Madness. In the three and a half years since the last studio release, Shinedown have released a great live CD/DVD set, Somewhere In the Stratosphere as well as given us a re-release with bonus tracks of Sound of Madness. Top that with over two years of constant touring, and Shinedown‘s members have been anything but bored.
The band once again tapped multiple Grammy Award-winning producer Rob Cavallo (Meat Loaf, My Chemical Romance, Green Day) to helm the project’s recording.
Admittedly, when I first put this CD on, I expected to hear a CD that picked up where the last one left off, as the band seems to have gotten progressively heavier with each release. However, this one, though still distinctly Shinedown, takes us in a bit of an unexpected direction. To my ear, it’s less metal, and more straight-ahead rock with elements of rock’s poppier side, the heavier side, and even a bit of an orchestral sound on some tracks. You can tell Brent Smith’s work on Apocalyptica‘s 2010 CD possibly had an influence on the style of a couple of tracks on Amaryllis. Several of the songs remind me a bit of Nickelback, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, if you’re expecting Sound of Madness Part Two, you’re in for a definite surprise. As has been the case for Shinedown over the past few years, 2012 should see them atop the rock sales and airplay charts, and filling up concert venues worldwide in support of this latest project.
The biggest thing I expect it to have in common with its predecessor is that likely, every song on this album will be a monster hit at rock radio, and several will do well in the pop market. Though, unlike past CDs, Shinedown will actually have to put out edits on a couple of these tracks in order for them to find a home at radio. I wasn’t the least bit bothered by the language, though having not heard Brent Smith drop an F-bomb any of the five times I’ve seen the band, I was surprised by the ones on this CD. Again, this isn’t a criticism in the least.
The album starts off with the hard-rocking “Adrenaline”. I have to say that this is a strong lead-off track. From the second you pop the CD into the player, you’ll want to crank this one up. It’s a great way to start a day, a CD, and probably going to wind up being a fan favorite at the shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if, over time, they begin using this as their opener on the tour.
Next up is the lead-off single from the CD, “Bully”. Lyrically, I’ve loved this song since it came out. The message is strong; it’s a nice middle finger to all of those kids we went to school with who got their kicks by beating up and picking on kids who were weaker than they were. It’s a good song for today as well, with cyber-bullying and school bullies seemingly being a nightly topic on the news or talk radio. Musically though, I admit, this song has never quite grabbed me. This one’s all Brent Smith.
Next is the title track, “Amaryllis”. Cool song…One I’ll have to do a bit more research on and listening to in order to find the meaning, but I like the tempo and instrumentation. Excellent guitar work by Zach Myers. It definitely shows why, other than his work in Shinedown, he’s been sought after by many fellow musicians to play live, play on their records and what-not.
“Unity” is another good one. It’s a more mid-tempo pop-rocker. I definitely expect this one to find great success at both rock and pop radio, and to have a long life in the rock world of radio play. Very cool track lyrically, and again, Zach’s guitar work shines throughout the song, especially on the solo. Very lush-sounding instrumentation with what sounds like cello included in the mix as well.
“Enemies” may be my favorite track on the album. It’s an in-your-face arena rocker, and it lets the target know he or she’s been caught and called out for their lies and treachery, and that they’re an enemy to the end.
“I’m Not All Right” has a bit of a progressive hard rock feel. The song seems to be about knowing you’ve gone over the edge, you’re a mess, and just don’t care that you’re crazy, or indeed, sort of like it. Again, very nice instrumentation. A lot of orchestral-sounding backing on this one.
“Nowhere Kids” is a straight-ahead, pounding rocker. I like it…Still trying to discern exactly what it’s about. This is another one that should go over great live.
I really like the next track, “Miracle”. Another mid-tempo pop-rocker that I expect to do well at radio. I definitely get the feeling it’s a song for someone very special. Not a typical friend or lover, but someone who’s changed the writer’s life, is that steadying force for the better. Very uplifting.
“I’ll Follow You” has a very old-school soul/R&B feel on the intro, but gets more rockin’ as the chorus kicks in. The intro is just Brent’s vocals, and a piano, which stays throughout the song. Then the drums, guitar, and bass kick in on the chorus making this a combo of soul and rock that can’t be beat. When Brent first started singing on this one, I had to rewind it a couple of times to convince myself it wasn’t Gavin DeGraw joining him on vocals, but this is all Brent Smith through and through. Another excellent lead break from Zach on guitar as well.
“For My Sake” is a song about letting go, moving forward, and telling the other person that though there were good times, it’s over, and we’ve got to move on. This one reminds me a little bit of “Not Strong Enough”, the track Brent did with the band Apocalyptica on their 2010 release.
“My Name (Wearing Me Out)” is probably my favorite song on the album. It has it all. It’s up-tempo, a good, solid rocker, and the message is clear. It says, “You’ve picked on me long enough. You’ve told me I’m nothing long enough. Now, I’m not putting up with it. You’re wearing thin, and I’m done.” This could be for a former friend, lover, relative, or anyone who strengthens themselves by telling you how stupid, worthless, or pathetic you are in their eyes.
The CD closes with “Through The Ghost”, a song that reminds me, musically, of The Smashing Pumpkins 1993 hit “Disarm” in its instrumentation. Strings, timpani, chimes, and acoustic guitar. Yet another one that, for me, is an enigma as to its meaning. I could see it either being about someone who’s passed away, changed so much you no longer know them, has gotten too strung out for too long on dope, or any number of things.
All in all, this is a solid CD, and well-worth buying if you’re a newer Shinedown fan, or if you’re like me and have been a fan since Leave a Whisper first came out back in 2003. At first, admittedly, I felt the album fell very short of where Sound of Madness left off. But after a few listens, I realized that Shinedown did as they’ve always done. They made the right album for where they’re at the present time. Shinedown have done something different on each of their four studio albums, making fans and critics alike have to take each album as a new body of work, not a continuation of what they’ve done before. So that being said, it would be unfair for me to rate the CD as a comparison to their prior work.
Shinedown will, undoubtedly, be touring just as much as they did in support of their last album. Currently, they’re out on the Avalanche Tour. For more information about the band, and all of the latest regarding tour dates, visit Shinedown.com”.