Following on from the multimillion selling ‘Sound Of Madness’ with an album of higher or equal quality is a challenge Shinedown certainly relishes. To get producer Rob Cavallo on board one more time is even more of a coup as he ‘unofficially’ retired from producing, so they must have left an impression to get him off his yacht and behind the desk twiddling the knobs one more time.
Amaryllis more or less carries on where Sound Of Madness left off, which was incidentally their 3rd album and the album to finally break them in Europe. It’s polished, sometimes heavy, has Brent Smith’s power vocals all over it but here’s the stumbling point…. there is something missing. I must stress that I’m a big Shinedown fan and have been ever since a trip to Florida in 2004 where I discovered their first album ‘Leave a Whisper’. I love my metal but I’m an absolute sucker for a good old rock voice and Mr. Smith is the holder of one of the best set of pipes in the business.
OK enough stalling let’s get to the chase, the first two tracks ‘Adrenaline’ and ‘Bully’ power along like a thundering behemoth then we enter ballad territory and remain there for quite some time. The problem I foresaw has sadly come true, Shinedown have bowed down to record company pressure to make the next multimillion pound erection section song, the ones that will make all the chicks gush and the guys adding them to mix tapes with the hope of getting ‘some action’ in the back of the Corsa.
‘Enemies’ sees the foot stomp back on the gas; then we get the god-awful ‘I’m Not Aright’ which has some irritating instrument parping throughout the chorus. The sound of angels strumming harps it is not, the sound of angels squeezing out last night’s curry it certainly is. Maybe I’m being a little too critical but when Shinedown rock they can level countries to their foundations. ‘My Name (Wearing Me Out)’ is an absolute storming track that sees Shinedown revealing their aggressive forceful side.
Is Amaryllis the album that will finally see Brent and the boys fill arenas in Europe? The answer has to be probably yes. While Alter Bridge keep their radio friendly songs edgy, Shinedown sadly dip them in syryp, coat them in sugar, cover them in chocolate and make them as sickly as they can. Amaryllis has far too many ballads/radio friendly moments for my liking; hopefully the harder songs will distract you just long enough to keep you interested. Either way it has some of the most powerful, heartfelt, multi- layered tracks any previous Shinedown album has contained, but most importantly it will still sell fucking millions, guaranteed.
Rating 7.5 out of 10
Amaryllis is out on the 27th March on Roadrunner Records.
Shinedown play on the Zippo Encore Stage on Sunday 10th June at Download Festival.