Monday, 26 March 2012

Review: Shinedown - Amaryllis

 There's always a sense of fear that emerges from music enthusiasts when considering the many hard rock bands that have had much success. Florida's Shinedown is a good example of this. Personally, I've really gotten into their heavy and hooky-filled performance which has always revealed a sense of dynamism that sets them apart from the rest of their peers. But they've sold over six million albums and are becoming more recognised in the UK now than ever before and there's a threat that they may begin to water down their music to match their commercial success and create songs that would be played by that radio station I listened to during my brief visit to New Jersey which said they were going to play something extreme before playing Coming Undone by Korn. While Seether sadly followed this instruction with their most recent offering Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray, it's a refreshing sight to see that Shinedown haven't fallen to such temptation and return with their fourth offering Amaryllis sounding more triumphant than ever.

 And as opener Adrenaline opens the album in a way that does exactly as it says as the title with pulsing guitar solos and driving basslines, it's clear that Shinedown aren't looking to water anything down and instead reach new boundaries in their levels of intensity and extremity. Thankfully, this sense of intensity and passion is always at a high across the album and the furious performance from frontman Brent Smith on lead single Bully, a gathering for all those who've taken crap from their fellow peers is one of genuine authenticity and the pulsing selection of hooks from Zach Myers gives it that bit more of an anthemic quality.
 This is one of Shinedown's prime qualities in their ability to have a constant anthemic streamlined quality to their music, no matter what kind of atmosphere they play in or the tone of their performance. There's the pure anthems like Bully and the rich symphonic aided textured I'm Not Alright, there are the ballads that thankfully manage to remain engaging and have a real emotional impact like Unity and I'll Follow You and then there are the moments where things go a bit off-the-rails like Enemies which is a highlight of the album, with Myers' infectious groove and Smith's vocals of swaggering evil or the unsettling My Name (Wearing Me Out).
 The album throughout serves as evidence of how much genuine class and soul is found in the music of Shinedown and the on edge performance of Smith and ever-shifting musical performance from Myers, Barry Kerch on drums and Eric Bass on... bass moves this album to a higher standard than many of their peers and makes Amaryllis devoid of any radio rock clichés. This is by far the strongest piece of work the band have turned in to date and proves that commercially successful rock can still pack a punch. This album snarls in the face of radio rock.

 Shinedown's Amaryllis is out now via Roadrunner. The band will play at Download Festival at Donnington Park, Derby on Sunday 10th June.

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