Florida-based rockers Shinedown have returned with the long anticipated follow-up to their third album, The Sound of Madness.
Amaryllis essentially follows on directly from where The Sound of Madness left off in terms of style, but with little development or originality.
Safe to say, this is one naked lady that neither sparkles nor blooms.
Fans of the band’s earlier albums (Leave a Whisper and Us and Them) are unlikely to take much comfort from the commercial formula Shinedown (much like Nickelback, Seether, and to a lesser extent Saliva) has embraced throughout Amaryllis.
While the record has similar form and style to previous outings the group’s evolution in this regard is at best modest and at worst boring. All the components that make for a good rock record (except the lyrics) are there but somehow fail to impress and render little more than a five-minute wonder, with packaging that proves to be more interesting than its content.
The guitar work and drumming take a fairly heavy stance with power and broken chords walloped together with varying degrees of success. But there is technical proficiency at play. Zack Myers keeps pace and matches the roaming range of Brent Smith well, with fitting progressions and some catchy hooks that elevate some of the album’s duller songs.
Despite Myers’s intensity on tracks such as Adrenaline, Enemies and Nowhere Kids, his efforts are generally overshadowed by Smith’s clichéd melodies and a surprisingly flat sound, considering Grammy Award-winning producer Rob Cavallo took care of production duties.
Smith’s vocals are as powerful and absorbing as ever but his lyrical musings are poorly constructed and overly sentimental with little depth or attention to detail. He highlights themes and issues such as not being understood, life is unfair, overcoming adversity, romantic wanks and other “character building” shit that almost everyone has to go through at one time or another in order to graduate from their teens.
Certainly, these subjects will resonate with younger listeners, but Smith’s superficial tone is not in keeping with what one would expect from a 34 year-old singer on his fourth album.
Amaryllis comes across as overly ambitious and while likely to be commercially successful it is predictable and banal with little to offer. While listenable, the album lacks substance and direction and may well leave long-term Shinedown fans uncertain about the band’s future.
When discussing Lou Reed’s solo material in the movie Trainspotting, the character of Sick Boy is quoted as saying: “No, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. And in your heart you kind of know that although it sounds alright, it’s actually just… shite.”
A scathing opinion that unfortunately also applies to Amaryllis. Give it a miss.
Frisco rating 4.5/10
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.