The experience starts with me opening the Amaryllis jewel case, and seeing the back of the liner note book which states: “DON’T BE DELICATE … BE VAST AND BRILLIANT”
Okay, so I know this is going to be an unbelievable album already, not just because it’s Shinedown but because I know the guys in the band give it all they have, all the time. Let’s do this!
Adrenaline is aptly named, but then you would expect nothing less from this heavy rock band. “It’s the love of the chase that created the ride.” Brent Smith’s vocals are spot on, crisp, sharp and punctuated by sharp drum snaps from Barry Kerch. Gang vocals from guitarist Zach Myers and bassist Eric Bass (Bass not ‘base’) give the song an extra punch. “Give me the wheel so we can move a little faster” is the catch phrase for this song… listen closely if you want to hear all the lyrics. I love how the end of Adrenaline morphs into the beginning of Bully.
Bully is the first single off the album, and although a good song (and most excellent video), it’s far down the list of ‘favorites’ for this album. Covering a popular subject of bullying, this song has a twist – “there are more of us we’re everywhere, we dont have to take this…. “ This is most definitely an anthem song to take a stand and if we all do it, the bully’s can’t win.
Title track Amaryllis is stunning. I love everything about it, how it starts out with almost acoustic guitar, the lyrics are thought provoking and questioning. Smith’s voice is stellar and melodic, uncluttered by wailing guitars. I’m in love! “Amaryllis bloom I wish you’d open up for me, I could get used to your company”
Unity starts out with Eric Bass on keyboards and soft voices in the background, gains strength and power and crescendo’s into the first verse vocals. “Put your hands in the air if you hear me out there, Ive been looking for you day and night, shine a light in the dark, let me see where you are cause I’m not going to leave you behind.” The song can be interpreted both on a personal and spiritual level and is gut wrenching an emotional. Officially my favorite of all tracks.
Enemies is a shock to the system after the previous Unity and it takes a few seconds to wrap your head around the change in subject matter. The song is solid heavy rock and roll, Smith’s voice is deeper and sharper to match the tenure of the lyrics. “You put the world on it’s knees, you’re taking all that you please, you want more more more but you’ll get nothing from me. You’re like the burden we bear, you’re all the hate that we share, you want more more more… ” Again this song can be interpreted in a spiritual context, or not. Powerful, thought provoking. I think this song is going to grow on me rapidly.
I’m Not Alright has a really quirky vibe to it brought on by the lyrics and the light bobby guitar riff at the start. It’s upbeat and Brent Smith’s vocals are higher pitched and snappy. A song of questioning the fine line between being a genius and being crazy. One of my favorite ‘sounding’ songs on the album, an air of fun to it.
Nowhere Kids has a heavier punch to it and is very guitar heavy. Snappy drums by Barry Kerch punctuate Smith’s lyrics which are full and fast. “you inspired the birth of ignorance, the death of innocence, guess who’s back and mad as hell, nowhere kids who wish you well.” This is not quite a sing-a-long song for the masses, but it will strike a chord with some on a gut level.
Miracle is an amazing song – wait for it… it hits you when the guitar picking, when the harmonies between Smith and the background singing, hits that note – you know, the one that grabs your heart strings every time and has you almost in tears for no reason. A definite love song with spiritual elements, “I just want you to see what I’ve always believed, you are the miracle in me….. these are the moments you can’t pass by, let’s turn the water into wine one more time.”
I love the piano intro of I’ll Follow You. “The first step is the one you believe in, the second one might be profound, I’ll follow you down to the eye of the storm…. I don’t care if we fall from Grace, I’ll follow you down.” This song is a grower… you’ll listen to it a few times before it suddenly hooks you by the heartstrings and has you singing at the top of your lungs with it. Close second as favorite song on the album at this point.
For My Sake kicks into shatter the stillness of the previous song – this album keeps you guessing from song to song (even though they all fit together). This song took two listens for me to connect with it – a song about needing to be ones’ self despite caring about a person who’s trying to fit you into their own mold: “Please… for my sake, Stop slowing me down, stop holding me up, quit making a scene … let’s be honest, I promise, I’m never looking back for my sake.“
My Name (Wearing Me Out) “My name is Worthless like you told me once I was, my name is Empty cause you dragged away the love, my name is Searching since you stole my only soul, my name is Hatred and for reasons we both know…. who am i right now, you’re f***n wearing me out.” A very dark song about letting someone else control who you are based on how you allow them to treat you – and about reclaiming your own identity .. harsh but that much needed angst of the album. One of my favorites.
Through the Ghost closes the album on an ambiguous note. Most of the songs on this album have a positivity despite the heavy subject matters used – this song has a melancholy feel to it and doesn’t end the album on a high note. Melodic with booming kettle drum and strings, sonically its a masterpiece and a great soaring ending to the album, but lyrically it leaves you feeling sad and wanting more. “Did you hide yourself away…. did you finally find a place above the shadows so the world will never know, never know you.”
Shinedown has another smash hit on their hands (literally – the album hit huge a week ago, and sold 104,000 copies in that first week). The album as a whole gels together and ‘fits’. Not one song is a filler or toss-away song. Distinct elements of unabashed spirituality mixed with the human condition… this band can sing about God and use biblical references (Miracle) and yet kick you in the gut with the harsh reality of being used and abused in no uncertain terms (Through the Ghost, Bully) dropping the F-bomb without being crude. The album most definitely is personal for the band members and it shows – the feelings of helplessness mixed with love and triumph will hook you from start to finish and will have you listening for a very long time to come.
Shinedown can be found on Twitter where they are very personally active with fans. @thebrentsmith, @bkerchofficial, @zmyersofficial, @ebassprod @shinedown
Album is available digitally on iTunes and in CD format (get the CD – the album liner notes and artwork is a must!) at most retailers including Best Buy, HMV, etc.
©nightMair Creative 2012 all rights reserved