By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Rock ‘n’ roll is all about a band reaching the fans through their talent mastery; making that special connection so they can relate to them. A lot of bands have that ability. When they create music, they usually draw it from personal experience, something that the average human being goes through. There is one band from Jacksonville, Flor., who knows how to touch a fan’s heart and soul. I am talking about of course Shinedown. Having been around since 2001, Shinedown has been considered one of the best hard rock and alternative metal acts. Some of their top songs, including “Second Chance” and “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom),” hit the top of the rock charts. It is now 2018, and Shinedown looks to continue its rock conquest with sixth studio album, Attention Attention.
This album marks their first concept album, telling the story about a human overcoming negativity, through personal experience to become a new person. I love this idea because everyone goes through bad experiences in life, but most of them do pull through, emerging on the other side of whatever ordeal new people. Vocalist Brent Smith pours everything he has in his voice, to give each song the raw emotion and intensity the protagonist is feeling. Zach Myers is coming into his own as a top guitarist in modern rock, shredding poignant melodies that can be sorrowful and joyful at the same time. Drummer Barry Kerch and bassist Eric Bass drive the album home with their infectious rhythms. Together, on this album, I feel Shinedown have perfected the art much tighter than 2015’s Threat to Survival.
Attention Attention starts things off with the interlude “ENTERANCE.” I saw this as an invitation into the disturbed mind, and that is when fun began, with the #1 single, “DEVIL.” This hard rocking number delivers an impactful punch that fans can hear in their ears. With “BLACK SOUL,” it continues the headbanging feeling, while dealing with prejudice. Myers brings the “wow” factor with a sleek solo. We then come to the title track, where Smith gives the verses in rap style, before bringing the hammer down on the chorus. Reading the lyrics, to me, it could deal with mental health issues, like hearing voices in one’s head. That is heavy stuff. “KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE” is one my personal favorite tracks. It has a progressive nature in itself while Smith continues his impassioned delivery in his voice. The intensity continues in “PYRO,” where it shows how the hero’s parents failed in raising him. I loved the chorus, “Set fire to the family tree,” which I see as a declaration of cutting ties with family. “MONSTERS” is a gut-wrenching force, and “DARKSIDE” shows the character still has fight in them..
Things start to slow down with “CREATURES,” probably their best ballad since “Second Chance.” Shinedown goes heavy once again with “EVOLVE,” where I hear passion in Kerch’s drumming. With “GET UP,” a piano led ballad, the hero starts to feel jovial; like everything is turning around for the better. The only song on the album to be spelled all lower-case, “special” reminds us that we are all flawed human beings, no more or no less. Then things kick into high-gear with “THE HUMAN RADIO,” which features a progressive bass line by Bass. The journey comes to a grand ending with “BRILLIANT,” an upbeat tempo rocker with the hero feeling much better.
Shinedown has tackled each emotion and given us a passionate album that everyone can enjoy. I see Attention Attention as their best work since The Sound of Madness. If you pick up a copy of the album from Wal-Mart, then you will receive 2 bonus tracks that are very good, “Headcase” and “ANWTD (A New Way to Die).” This was masterfully done by one of the best hard rockers today. To Shinedown, I salute you. Horns up!!! 9/10
1 THE ENTRANCE
3 BLACK SOUL
4 ATTENTION ATTENTION
5 KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE
11 GET UP
13 THE HUMAN RADIO
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