Of all the hard rock bands in the world, few have conquered the world quite like Shinedown over the past few years. Countless festival appearances, a rigorous touring schedule, and a massive selection of critically and commercially successful albums and singles have propelled them to being one of the most famous hard rock bands in the world. Now they are back, following up 2015’s slightly poppier Threat To Survival with this, their newest project. It promises to be heavier, more intense, and fit together better than anything they’ve ever written before. But how good is it?
From the first song- lead single ‘DEVIL’, it is already clear that this will be a heavier set of songs than the band’s previous album, not just musically, but in terms of subject matter too (the title track and ‘PYRO’ come to mind). But despite this, the band seem to have taken some lessons from last time’s experiments, and they use a level of outside instrumentation on tracks like ‘BLACK SOUL’ incredibly effectively, adding a level of atmosphere that other bands in the genre lack greatly. It’s almost as if this style of music is something more than hard rock, taking the genre and pushing it a level further.
And this style works perfectly for a lot of these songs; the aforementioned ‘BLACK SOUL’ is one of the best songs the band has ever written, and ‘KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE’ uses an electronic rhythm perfectly to crank up the tension in the verse before exploding into an epic chorus. The faint strings in the chorus of ‘EVOLVE’ are also a great touch. But the best song on the whole album has to be the title track. The spoken verse slowly builds up before bursting into an incredible chorus that is both catchy and hard hitting.
Unfortunately, there are a few missteps towards the end of the album. ‘CREATURES’ is a bit closer to the generic side than I’d like, as is ‘GET UP’. Fortunately, these are saved by great songs in between, like ‘THE HUMAN RADIO’ and ‘EVOLVE’. Overall though, this album is definitely a step in the right direction for the band. Heavier doesn’t always equate to better- but in this case it really does. Shinedown are still at the top of their game, and probably won’t come down for a while.
Best songs: EVOLVE, ATTENTION ATTENTION, BLACK SOUL