Sound — 9
Jacksonville, Florida hard rockers Shinedown titled their new album "Amaryllis" after a species of flowering bulbs, and on "Amaryllis", Shinedown have constructed a modern rock masterpiece. I'm sure people will bitch about the softer songs on this album, but ironically softness is Shinedown's strength. When Brent Smith and co. Get heavy on "Amaryllis" ("Adrenaline", "Enemies", "Nowhere Kids", "My Name") they sound like a modern rock band, albeit an extremely good one. However, when Shinedown expands their sound into power ballads laced with pianos ("Unity", "I'll Follow You"), horns ("I'm Not Alright"), and even orchestras ("Through The Ghost"), Brent Smith is given a chance to shine. To better explain what I'm saying, I'll review every track individually. 01. "Adrenaline" - A nice aggressive way to open the album. I'm already predicting that Shinedown will open with this song when I see them live on May 13. 02. "Bully" - The first single from "Amaryllis", "Bully" is just screaming anthem for the oppressed and picked-on. It's not a straight rock song, but it's rock enough to pass as the first single. I personally wouldn't have chosen this as the first single, but considering that this song is everywhere on the radio, what do I know? 03. "Amaryllis" - The first ballad on "Amaryllis", the title track features acoustic guitars in the verses before exploding in the chorus. For some reason, this song reminds me a lot of "Life Won't Wait" by Ozzy Osbourne. 04. "Unity" - The first song on "Amaryllis" to feature piano, this song gives off a U2 feeling throughout the verses. The chorus isn't quite as powerful as I hoped, but it's still decent. I believe it will probably become a live anthem though. 05. "Enemies" - Without a doubt, "Enemies" is the heaviest Shinedown song ever. Brent Smith described "Enemies" in an interview as being a sort of "metal boogie" and it definitely delivers. I love the riff with the little squeals in the verses (I don't think it's pinch harmonics, but it definitely sounds like it). 06. "I'm Not Alright" - This song isn't a ballad, nor is it a rock song. "I'm Not Alright" features a horn section, and that combined with the rhythm seems to give off a Celtic feel, at least that's what I hear. 07. "Nowhere Kids" - Another heavy rocker, with interesting lyrics. Not too special, but it'll probably be a single at some point. 08. "Miracle" - A ballad. This is probably my least favorite song on "Amaryllis". It's kinda bland. 09. "I'll Follow You" - My favorite song on the album. I love how the piano driven verses combined with Brent's voice gives it a soul-ballad feel. The chorus is my favorite one on "Amaryllis". I absolutely love Zach Myer's guitar solo on it. This is the song I would've released as the first single. 10. "For My Sake" - A melodic rock song, it sounds like something from "Leave A Whisper". Not anything special. 11. "My Name (Wearing Me Out)" - A very interesting heavy rock song. I swear there is a sitar in the intro/1st verse. Other than the sitar, "My Name" isn't very notable. 12. "Through The Ghost" - According to Brent Smith, "Through The Ghost" features a 30 piece orchestra. I love this song.
Lyrics — 9
I've never been hesitant to admit my admiration for Brent Smith's voice. Besides Myles Kennedy, Brent is my favorite voice in rock. But having a great natural voice doesn't mean anything if you can't harness and use it to serve the song. And on Amaryllis, Brent Smith wields his voice perfectly. As for the lyrics, "Amaryllis" is my favorite Shinedown album lyrically. Brent uses great metatphors that I've never really heard before. Brent told Revolver Magazine that he acted as the "story police", banning vague metaphors and commonly used words such as "sky" and "away". That tactic appears to have paid off. "Bully" is self-explanatory as Brent tells off a bully (I suspect this was written in response to the rash of bullying-related suicides recently). "Unity" is also self-explanatory as Brent essentially sends out a message of hope. Elsewhere, Brent sings about being addicted to "Adrenaline", then crooning "I'll Follow You" down into the eye of the storm, and asking if you hid "Through The Ghost", and rails against celebrity obsession on "Nowhere Kids".
Overall Impression — 9
On "Amaryllis", Shinedown have combined their hard rock side with the ballads of "Sound Of Madness". Brent Smith and co. are on the top of their game. Zach Myers's guitar solos are short and sweet, Brent's voice carries every song, and Eric Bass adds piano flourishes on several songs. I love how Shinedown experimented on "Amaryllis", and I believe it paid off. Of course, this is all just my humble opinion, and if you disagree, feel free to flame me. I don't give a f--k.