I've seen over 50 bands, in about 30 different concerts in my life, but none have left me as awestruck as Shinedown did in the mid-January of 2005. I picked up their debut album Leave a Whisper and immediately fell in love with it. Now after over two years of touring, and only about 2-3 months of studio time, Shinedown is out with a new album. I was more than excited to hear this, the first thing I noticed when listening to the album is that the guitars have lost a bit of their edge. Even in the higher energy songs, there is still an acoustic quality to them. I'm sure you'll know what I mean when listening to Us and Them
The beginning of the album starts off with a poem written by Brent Smith and recited by a little girl. It's interesting only the first time you hear it. I don't really think skits or things like that belong on an album, because once you've already heard it, there's no point in hearing it again. You buy an album for the music, not a poem recited by a little girl. This bothers me especially when I put the cd on shuffle, and have to walk all the way across the room to skip the intro when it plays right in the middle of my game of halo, and it gets frustrating at times.
The opening track Heroes starts the album off strong, but it's not nearly as great of a kickoff as Leave a Whisper's "Fly From the Inside". Lead Vocalist Brent Smith has one of the most recognizable voices in all of rock, and he puts on a strong show throughout the duration of the album.
Shinedown plays it smart by placing lead single Save Me third on the album's track list. How many recent albums have you picked up lately where bands place their best song as the opening track? I just don't understand this move. If the best song is the first song, then the rest of the album is going to be a disappointment.
Everything is working with Save Me. Brent's vocals really click with the guitars, the riffs are solid, the solo is great, and it has one of the catchiest choruses of 2005.
Someone save me if you will
And take away all these pills
And please just save me if you can
From the blasphemy in my wasteland
It doesn't matter if I'm listening to this song on the CD, on the radio, in front of my girlfriend, or anywhere else. I always find myself singing it out loud like an idiot. I just hope I don't wear headphones to class, I don't think the professor would be amused.
After Save Me, Shinedown holds onto the strong pace they've started with I Dare You, another strong piece of rock. It really keeps the successful Shinedown formula going: deep lyrics, great vocals, and catchy chorus. The album then takes a bit of a step back with Yer Majesty Brent's voice seem somewhat strained, and the chorus is just too fast paced for a Shinedown song.
With the ground they've lost on Yer Majesty, the pace is quickened right back up with Beyond the Sun. This is the first of two ballads on the album, and needless to say, Shinedown really knows how to write a ballad. Three of the four singles off of Leave a Whisper were ballads, and I wouldn't be surprised if this song eventually is released because it's a true standout on the album.
This brings me to the low point of the album, and it really shouldn't be. Lady So Divine starts off so strong, the chorus is great, but for some ungodly reason, after about 3 minutes, when the song should be closing out, they decide to add a ridiculously long bridge with about 3 more minutes of repetitive spoken lyrics, guitar solos, and other filler. About halfway through this I'm begging for the song to end, and this is the only point of the album that I find myself skipping.
The other ballad on the album Shed Some Light follows and boy, what a rebound! Right after listening to such a strong song, I've already forgiven Shinedown for the ridiculously drawn out performance in their last song.
The remainder of the album is full of splendid rock tunes Begin Again, Atmosphere, Fake, and finally Some Day. All four of these songs again follow the classic Shinedown formula and won't disappoint. Some Day is a great way to close out a superb sophomore album.
While listening to the album, you'll probably notice that it seems Brent Smith has seen the light. If you pay attention, you'll hear at least one divine reference in just about every song. I'm not sure what this means, but we'll just have to find out after they release album number three.
Bottom line, this is a great sophomore album. Shinedown has changed their sound a little bit, but for a band to be truly successful, they need to be able to evolve their sound as they mature as a group. Shinedown has found a way to reach out to new fans while retaining their old ones.
Tracks in Order (A+) = excellent
1. The Dream
2. Heroes (A+)
3. Save Me (A+)
4. I Dare You
5. Yer Majesty
6. Beyond The Sun
7. Trade Yourself In
8. Lady So Divine
9. Shed Some Light (A+)
10. Begin Again
13. Some Day
Final Grade: 3.5 stars
My Other Shinedown Review
Leave a Whisper
The Sound of Madness