Keven's Music Review: SHINEDOWN – Amaryllis

Shinedown singer Brent Smith is one of the best vocalists in the industry. The heights this man can scale with that voice are breathtaking and above all else he still remains 100% rock and roll. The band's fourth studio album 'Amaryllis' is dynamic but it doesn't quite reach the level of past efforts.

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'Amaryllis' is loaded with these sort of 'child awareness' anthems. Whether it's 'Nowhere Kids' or the more straight forward 'Bully', Shinedown are certainly speaking to the youth to let them know that they are not alone. The lyrics are powerful and the message is loud and clear throughout, but that's not all the record is about. Shinedown have really amped up the aggression and you can tell in the writing and not necessarily in the music, aside from the song 'Enemies' which sounds like the intro to Black Sabbath's 'Children of The Grave'.

I noticed more F-bombs throughout the record than past Shinedown albums, which I'm more than fine with. Guess that separates the band from the similar sounding Christianized rock of Creed, but it does feel somewhat forced, almost as if Smith throws in a quickie F*** just for the sake of sounding badass. The faster songs on 'Amaryllis' didn't grab me as much as the slower ballads like 'Through The Ghost', 'I'm Not Alright' and the well balanced title track 'Amaryllis'.

As always Shinedown, pardon the pun, shine brightest when they slow it down and utilize acoustic guitars. Maybe it's because Smith's voice just sounds even more powerful without 'Children of the Grave' guitars blurring out what makes the tracks sound good. The music can sometimes seem so generic throughout but this is likely no fault of the band and I'm sensing the production couldn't figure out how to mix Smith's immortal quality vocals with the rest of the guys.

If you enjoyed 2008's 'The Sound of Madness', you'll dig 'Amaryllis'. However if you were more a fan of 2005's 'Us and Them' then you may find your mind wandering through some of the generic material here. The album is not bad by any means, but it feels plastic when things start to speed up and lines begin to blur. Shinedown are at their best on 'Amaryllis' when they chill out, so give it a shot and stick to the ballads because as always, they sound absolutely fantastic.

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1. "Adrenaline"
2. "Bully"
3. "Amaryllis"
4. "Unity"
5. "Enemies
6. "I'm Not Alright"
7. "Nowhere Kids"
8. "Miracle"
9. "I'll Follow You"
10. "For My Sake"
11. "My Name (Wearing Me Out)"
12. "Through the Ghost"

3 Stars