Released: May 4th, 2018
“In a world gone mad, it’s all so sad
Look what we’ve become
Welcome to the age of the new revolution”
I don’t think a band as successful and renowned as Shinedown needs any introduction, so I am going to keep it short. Formed in 2001 by vocalist Brent Smith, they have since released five full length albums, which makes “Attention Attention” (out May 4th) their sixth release with Atlantic Records, growing bigger and bigger with each new album. For the past 10 years the line-up consists of Brent Smith on vocals, Zach Myers on guitars, Barry Kerch on drums, and Eric Bass on bass, who stepped up and also produces this album.
It’s very refreshing to see bands evolve and change their style, especially since most of the time is for the best. But in some cases it is a bit weird, and I am still trying to wrap my head around the musical direction Shinedown took with 2015’s “Threat to Survival”, and which continues with “Attention Attention”, reason why I was a bit nervous and apprehensive about this album. According to the band, this is a concept album, depicting a human overcoming their negativity through personal struggles to be reborn as a new person, with “The entrance” serving as an intro to this story.
Kill Your Conscience
The Human Radio
With “Devil”, the first single released, we jump head on into the album’s musical journey, ready face our fears and demons, while singing along to the infectious chorus. “Black Soul” and “Pyro” seem to step the heaviness up a few notches, with very catchy choruses that also feature a few of Brent signature highs / screams, while the title track and “Kill Your Conscience” are a bit more radio-friendly, considering the rap-like delivery of the lyrics.
So far, no major surprises, those are reserved for the second half of the album. And true enough the next couple of songs – “Monsters”, “Darkside”, “Creatures”, and “Evolve” – are some of the best songs on the album, heavy both lyrically and musically, featuring some of Brent Smith’s deepest and most personal lyrics in a while, with “Darkside” being also very dance-friendly. “Get up” is a straight up rock ballad turned anthem, reminiscent of their older ones like “Second Chance” or “Amaryllis”. In the context of the album’s storyline, “Monsters” and “Creatures” act like catalysts for the human being’s negative emotions, with “Evolve” and “Get Up” seeing them turned into energy to move forward. The beautiful acoustic piece “special”, featuring a violin line, is another wonderful, though albeit conflicting, surprise on this album. “The Human Radio”, the second single released, and “Brilliant” conclude this journey of self-discovery on a positive note, as Brent sings “this is my day to be brilliant”.
On the other hand, I am not sure what to make of the distorted (autotuned?) vocals they used here and there, because, even though they fit in the context of the songs they were used in (“Black Soul”, “Creatures”, or “The Human Radio”), Brent Smith has such a great voice, I don’t believe any extra mix was necessary. And speaking of the vocals, I am not a big fan of them being so in the background, it feels like listening to Brent sing though a covered microphone, it’s a weird sensation. And this makes me wonder if something happened to his voice in the last few couple of years, because comparing this to 2012’s “Amaryllis” or even to 2008’s “Sound of Madness”, the difference is quite obvious, though he still sounds great live. Also, the instrumental seems veiled, like listening to the album though some type of sonic barrier, even though Zach is still shedding his guitar like a pro, Barry is hitting his drum kit with precision and gusto, and Eric is rounding everything up with his groovy bass lines. I mean, why couldn’t the whole album be as audible and in-your-face as “Get up”? This makes me really miss the power and rawness of their earlier works.
Bottom line is that, if you a long-time Shinedown fan, like me, you will definitely have mix feelings about it, because “Attention Attention” is just more mainstream, popish, and accessible than their earlier ones.
Until next time, Shinedown!
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Follow the band on-line:
Brent Smith – Lead Vocals
Zach Myers – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Eric Bass – Bass, Backing Vocals
Barry Kerch – Drums