Threat To Survival review by Shinedown

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  • Released: Sep 18, 2015
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 4.7 Poor
  • Users' score: 5.2 (34 votes)
Shinedown: Threat To Survival
3

Sound — 4
Sprouting up at the time when rock music was dominated with an influx of post-grunge/alt-metal, Shinedown fit right into the homogenous ranks for better or for worse. Though their early radio hits of "Fly From the Inside," "45" and "Heroes" did well commercially, the band's general sound - emulating that of bigger bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Staind and Godsmack - was panned for its derivation more than it was lauded for its mainstream success. Regardless of this panning, Shinedown would climb to the apex of the pop rock mountain with their 2008 album, "The Sound of Madness," with their singles "Devour" and "Second Chance" becoming some of the most ubiquitous radio hits of that year. That momentum would last a couple years afterwards, but when Shinedown returned with their fourth album, 2012's "Amaryllis," which ultimately showcased a tug-of-war between doubling down on saccharine orchestral pop rock ballads and trying to re-hash the tough alt-metal likes of their earlier sound, the band came off unsure as to how to progress.

Now on their fifth album, "Threat to Survival," Shinedown are, like their peers, adapting their rock sound to the grandiose, anthem-hopeful style of arena rock. But beyond the chock full of stomp-clap beats, rudimentary guitar riffs and sing-alongs (including a children's singalong in "Cut the Cord," which was previously tried out in the "Amaryllis" song "Bully," as well as the singalong melody in "Oblivion" being the same as the bridge singalong in Blackstreet's "No Diggity"), Shinedown are still struggling with how to decorate their sound beyond the basics - the worst of this haphazard reaching is "State of My Head," which tries to wrap together serene post-rock sections, ska-style guitar strums, trap-inspired hi-hat patterns and bubbling dubstep-ish synth arpeggios, resulting in a full-blown mess.

Frontman Brent Smith also shows uncertainty in the direction of his voice. Most noticeably in the album, he tries out a country-tinged singing style in a number of songs (like in "How Did You Love," "It All Adds Up" and "Dangerous"), but with him still coming back to his old, Layne Staley-influenced voice (in "Oblivion") as well as his clean, ballad-designated singing style (in "Misfits"), it ends up being an inconsistent and wishy-washy juggling act. In all this change, the few moments in the album that have the band earnestly rocking out are the most enjoyable ones. Though the tremolo guitar solos in "Asking for It" and "Outcast" aren't standout, the bass activity in the Imagine Dragons-esque uplifter "Thick as Thieves" reminds the listener that Shinedown's bassist Eric Bass can still throw down skillfully, and the bridge of "Black Cadillac" not only blooms a nice crest of guitar layers, but also employs a tempo shift that, albeit simply, pays homage to Soundgarden's "Rhinosaur."

Lyrics — 5
With Smith's lyrical matter in the last two Shinedown albums appealing to more revealing and emotional offerings, "Threat to Survival" shows Smith making more efforts for gruff, hard-lined, "take no shit" lyrical messages. But from his warning to smack-talkers in "Asking for It" and his ode to speaking his mind unapologetically in "Dangerous," to clichéd statements of in "Black Cadillac" ("Pay the price / Gotta roll those dice") and an extraneous harping of terminality in numerous choruses ("Don't be a casualty, cut the cord" in "Cut the Cord"; "The only way I'm leaving is dead" in "State of My Head"; "No one gets out alive / Every day is do or die" in "How Did You Love"; "Every murder has a motive, but you ain't killing me" in "It All Adds Up"), this endeavor overshoots its mark.

And again like in Shinedown's previous albums, the most captivating lyrical moments on the album are those that have Smith getting vulnerable and emotional, found in "Thick as Thieves" and "Misfits." Whereas "Misfits" has Smith nostalgically reveling in rebellious camaraderie with an old friend ("And after all, we never played by their rules / We broke the mold and found our own kind of cool"), "Thick as Thieves" shows Smith looking at the present and how a relationship turned to a cold war of disconnection, and though Smith admits fault for the way things are now ("Evidently this is my mistake / Lost touch but I think I've been replaced"), he still acknowledges how he and whomever he's speaking to will always have a connection.

Overall Impression — 5
In the wake of the messy bridging of the gap between Shinedown's alt-metal aggression and elaborate pop rock ballads in "Amaryllis," "Threat to Survival" has the band abandoning the lot of its instrumental prowess from before and entrenching itself in the current, simple tropes of pop rock. But from its lackluster energy failing to live up to the band's previous efforts, to the confused attempts to branch out sonically, "Threat to Survival" is another safe and nondescript iteration of today's pop rock that ends up being a bland listen.

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    taytay8b
    I don't understand why bands do this. Nickelback just did the same thing for example. Shinedown have built a loyal alt-rock fanbase that won't listen to this album. Also, pop lovers won't give this album a listen because they are Shinedown, not Maroon 5. So, basically, this band has written itself into a corner with nobody listening. I'll bring up the Nickelback example again: Nickelback played to half-empty arenas last year and their new album No Fixed Address barely sold compared to their prior releases. Then suddenly Chad got "vocal problems" and they had to cancel the whole remainder of the tour. Why did this happen?: Nickelback opted to go pop on No Fixed Address, filled it with drum machines and synths, wrote songs with Marianas Trench instead of Mutt Lange and nobody listened to it, because their loyal rock fanbase could care less, and the pop demographic didn't care either because they are Nickelback, not Maroon 5. Its not rocket science.
    JimBonJovi
    Very much agreed taytay. One could also bring up the old Linkin Park debate/situation but their fan base seems to be more accepting of change. Strangely.
    TMoreau15
    I think that's partially because of the hip-hop element to some of their stuff. I just mean that they've always had different or extra elements already. They explained they were trying concept for "A Thousand Suns." Their last album seemed to bring it all back. And if they release a poppy song like "Shadow of the Sun" they find a way to make it tasteful and then give you the tune everyone is expecting; in the case of the "After Midnight" album that would be "Bleed it Out." I dunno, it just seems like it makes sense in Linkin Park's case. And it didn't sound like this shit above.
    vppark2
    I agree. Although, Maroon 5's very first album was pretty good. They were more piano driven then tho.
    vppark2
    It's really sad to see this band go downhill so quick.
    Gibson_SG_uzr55
    For sure. Their previous albums were some of the best four albums in modern rock, at least for a radio friendly band. This is just garbage, sounds like Maroon 5 with a masculine voice or Imagine Dragons or some crap like that.
    jsk020
    How far has this band fallen since Us and Them. I mean dear god
    DisarmGoliath
    Well, I'm not sure if this album is falling deeper than their decision a few tours back for vocal backing tracks/Brent to mime some of the choruses (easiest noticed in 'Diamond Eyes' fan-shot vids of last few years)... Though I've only heard 'Cut The Chord' from this and it didn't do anything, despite Sound of Madness being a brilliant album in my opinion.
    jheavey5
    Us and Them is easily their worst album lol It's weakest front to back.
    jsk020
    we must have different musical tastes then. It has some solid riffs. Atmosphere for instance.
    thrashriff90
    That's their best album. It felt the most genuine, and took a much different approach from their usual stuff.
    bnsftracker
    Disastrous album. Cut The Cord is the only rock-ish song on the album. This album is a threat to Shinedown in the very near future..
    Hero_1985
    I've liked all of their previous albums, despite the obvious changes they've made towards pop music. This album just sucks. There is hardly a band to be found here. Mostly just vocals over beats, synths, and strings. Must have been an easy album to record for the guitarist, drummer, and bass player.
    ridinglightning
    This seems to have hit the pitfall of media- when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one
    TMoreau15
    That sound is so... awkward. It actually makes me want to puke. Also what is up with everybody going poppy and putting winding snakes on their albums. (BFMV's Venom for example [after already naming an album Poison].
    fras1788
    This is extremely disappointing. These guys seemed like they were something unique and creative. I loved their old albums, and it seemed like their lyrics were genuine and their melodies were new and fresh. Now its like they've turned 100% into mainstream bullshit. They've followed in the steps of FFDP and other bands that at one point seemed genuine, are now nothing but re-packaged garbage. When I first heard they were releasing a new album, I was kind of excited...I then heard, and watched the video for "Cut the Cord" ....WOW. Absolute trash....
    Jenrac
    Am I the only one who thinks that Brent looks like a complete tool the way he moves around in the "Cut the Cord" music video? Even just the way he leans toward the camera as the music begins, it comes off like they're trying SO HARD to be cool. I can't stand that crap. Just be yourself. Jeez.
    jheavey5
    Band does the same thing every album. "UGH THESE GUYS DONT CHANGE!!!!!1111" Band tries to be different every album " UGH THESE GUYS WONT RELEASE THE SAME SHIT EVERY TIME!!!!!11!!!"
    Ajd425
    ^I couldn't disagree more. As a big fan of Shinedown, this album is a huge disappointment. I completely understand bands wanting to evolve and change things up over time to risk their complete catalog sounding repetitive and uninspired, but if that's what Shinedown attempted here, it is a complete failure. I agree most with the comment about being an easy album to record for everyone but Brent, because all I heard was vocals on most of the tracks. I also don't understand why there are so many people saying Shinedown went the "pop" route with TTS. Pop / pop-rock does not even sound like this. In my opinion, this album as a whole is simply unlistenable. Shinedown has always been a radio-friendly hard rock band, but their power, energy, sincerity (and certainly Brent's excellent rock voice) made them one of the top in the genre. I listen to and appreciate many genres of music, so I feel comfortable saying this is by far the band's WORST release yet, regardless of the sound they are after. The Sound of Madness would have been a much more appropriate title for this album because it is absolute madness that Shinedown would make an album like this.
    bunnyh0pz
    Fans of trash band get mad when trash band starts playing trash music in a different genre
    aramdeara1
    Eeehhh is it just me or does 'Cut The Cord' sound like Korn could have written it?
    xxMaro92xx
    whatever you say. I still love shinedown and (nearly) all their songs, and amaryllis was fucking awesome as well as threat to survival. I can't understand any of the critics which are written in this post and in the comments, I don't see any problem with their music, but as always there are people who always have something to cry about keep going shinedown you are still as awesome as ever!
    Klidi
    I couldn't disagree more. TSOM is the stanard, average album at the best, without any song that really stands out - if you listen to the whole album at once, it's just tiring noise, and if you listen to mix of song by different rock bands, you won't stop to say 'wow, these guys are great, I want to hear more!' Threat to Surival achieved this, at least most of the songs. It would be better with less female vocals, but it has the unique quality that makes you recognize the song after the first few chords among hundreds of rock songs (527 currently in my playlist, from old classics to newest alt rock). Which for me makes TTS their best album. I agree though that the album cover is horrible. >.>
    swingin_sultan
    saw these guys at the roundhouse just before amaryllis came out and it was awesome, songs from leave a whisper and sound of madness standing out most