Sound — 6
Since 2002, when Shinedown formed, they have experienced great success for both their studio albums and a reputation for putting on a great live show. Their music has historically been fairly straightforward hard rock, but has occasionally been called alternative rock, alt metal and post grunge. Personally, I think they sound just like a fairly standard rock band. The new album, "Amaryllis", doesn't really depart from their sound. Brent Smith, vocalist, has stated in interviews that "Amaryllis" was created to show where they've been and where they are going, and to just be a very honest album that showcases what the band is about. I'm paraphrasing, and not quoting him exactly, but this is the heart of what he is saying, I believe.
In 2008, at the time of the release of "the Sound Of Madness", guitarist Nick Perri left the band and Eric Bass joined as the new bassist/pianist. The overall sound of Shinedown has still managed to stay consistent. On "Amaryllis", the songs range from softer songs to standard hard rock. The guitar solos are interesting (hats off to Zach Myers) but very short. The album is mixed fairly well with each instrument becoming a part of the texture of the song instead of any one instrument dominating the recording. While I can't feel really enthusiastic about this release, it isn't bad it just sounds like radio rock to me. I won't turn the station when it comes on (with the exception of "Bully" which is getting WAY too much radio play), but I don't think this album will have a very long shelf life on my mp3 player.
Lyrics — 7
It really seems like Shinedown had a vision in mind while writing songs for "Amaryllis", aiming for an almost inspirational theme about overcoming adversity, etc. This is most evident in the song "Bully", and here is a sample of the lyrics from the single (1st verse/chorus): "It's 8 AM, this Hell I'm in/ Seems I've crossed the line again/ For being nothing more than who I am/ So break my bones and throw your stones/ We all know that life ain't fair/ But there is more of us, we're everywhere/ We don't have to take this, back against the wall/ We don't have to take this, we can end it all/ All you'll ever be is a fading memory of a bully/ Make another joke while they hang another rope, so lonely/ Push them to the dirt till the words don't hurt/ Can you hear me? / No one's gonna cry on the very day you die/ You're a bully". I understand there has been a national focus on anti-bullying, and I understand that Shinedown is trying to help but the radio plays this song sometimes twice in the same hour. It is getting ridiculous. This may be a good song, but I've heard it so much I can't tell anymore, I just want it to stop.
Brent Smith does a great job with his vocal delivery, giving exactly what is needed for each song, and the rest of the band does a great job backing him. You can't really complain about the vocal delivery on here, Brent really has a great voice and is very versatile. From "Bully" to songs like "Enemies", and Brent Smith delivers the vocals in the exact right way to really serve the song. While the lyrics at times are a little cheesy, the vocal delivery is really good. I would trade voices with Brent Smith any day.
Overall Impression — 7
My favorite song on the album is going to be "Nowhere Kids" because the lyrics and the guitar riff is very interesting to me. My least favorite is "Bully", but this may very well be because they won't stop playing it repeatedly on the radio. Sorry for bringing that up so much, but it makes it really hard to judge that song fairly. I also enjoyed the songs "I'm Not Alright", "Enemies" and "For My Sake" alright. I also enjoyed "Unity" but for some reason it makes me think of U2 a lot, but I don't know why exactly. I can do without the title track, "Amaryllis", as it just sounds really bland to me.
At the end of the day, I like Shinedown as a band. "Amaryllis", however, is not my favorite album. The songs are okay, but none of them really stick out and shine to me. I think this album is going to get a lot of radio play, and I think a lot of people are going to disagree with my feelings about this album. I think as time passes and people look back on the work of Shinedown they are going to think of "Amaryllis" as a pretty mediocre effort compared to their other releases. And that is okay - not every album can be a home run, but I will be happy when the radio gets done playing songs from this album and goes back to playing some of their earlier work. Maybe just adding into rotation some of their new songs besides "Bully" would be enough.