Album Review: SHINEDOWN – Attention Attention

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Shinedown –  Attention Attention

Label: Atlantic Records

Release Date: May 4, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve written a review, and this is my first review for Metal Nation. As a huge Shinedown fan, I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to talk about the new release, Attention Attention, the band’s sixth studio effort. Shinedown still consists of vocalist Brent Smith, guitarist Zach Myers, bassist Eric Bass, and drummer Barry Kerch. The quartet bring their immense talents to bear on this album, the successor 2015’s Threat to Survival.

Since their major label debut in 2003, Leave a Whisper, Shinedown‘s sound has evolved with each release. Unlike many of today’s bands who have a couple hits, then stick to that formula for subsequent releases, Shinedown‘s sound is constantly changing, while staying true to their hard rock roots. The band’s sixth release, Attention Attention, is no exception. As a long-time fan, I believe this to be among their best releases. Considering the band’s excellent body of work, that’s saying something.

From start to finish, Attention Attention will blow you away with the diverse musical influences and styles, great musicianship, and lyrics that will make you think about yourself and the world around you. If you listen closely, you’re hear influences ranging from pop, hard rock and metal, alternative, industrial, and even a little psychedelic rock. All of the songs on this album are excellent. Normally, I would go track-by-track. However, the lyrics on this album give the listener a lot to think about and, in my view, are up to personal interpretation. Instead, let’s focus on the diversity of a few songs. Though, honestly, we’ll probably talk a little about each one in the end.

If you’ve listened to rock radio, or if you’ve pre-ordered the album through digital retailers, you should already be familiar with the first two tracks released. The lead single, “Devil”, may be the heaviest lead single Shinedown has released to date. The second single, “The Human Radio”, features some pretty cool lyrics, vocal effects, and an Eric Bass bass line that’s sure to get stuck in your head.

As mentioned, there are some very diverse sounds on this release. At its core, it’s a hard rock album, no question. However, I hear a bit more experimentation with electronic drums, keyboards, and even a bit of rap on the title track. On “Attention Attention”, Brent Smith shows he’s more than just a great vocalist. He can rap with the best of them, as he proves on the verses of the track. He then launches into a clear, melodic vocal on the chorus. Be forewarned; it’s a chorus that will get stuck in your head and have you singing along after a couple listens.

“Black Soul” is a mix of pure hard rock with electronic elements. At the start, the keyboard hook and electronic drums are deceptive, making you think you may be in for a pop-friendly track… However, those illusions are quickly swept away once the drums and guitars pound into your eardrums during the first chorus and into the second verse. This song also features something we rarely hear in rock anymore, a cool guitar solo during the bridge. Thanks for that, Zach Myers; we need more of that in today’s rock.

On “Kill Your Conscience”,Kerch appears to be experimenting with some new electronics on the intro. It’s still a great rocker, but the sound and style of the drumming and keyboards on the intro remind me a bit of recent music from Imagine Dragons and AWOLNation. Listen to “Believer” or “Sail” and tell me you don’t hear the similarities. Lyrically, it’s a song I think many of us can relate to, if not on a personal level, then by observing a good chunk of society and what it’s become.

“Pyro” and “Evolve” are, in my opinion, the most high-octane rockers on the CD. I can’t wait to see how these two do in the set list at upcoming concerts. While I’m not clear on the message of “Pyro”, I believe “Evolve” is a pretty fair commentary on what’s happening to our society the more enlightened and evolved we supposedly become.

The band does slow it down a bit on “Monsters”, “Get Up”, and “Special”. To me, “Monsters” appears to be about the demons many of us have battled or have seen friends and family battle…Drugs, alcohol, or whatever it may be. “Get Up” and “Special” are tracks that fit together perfectly in sequence, and the message I get is that you don’t have to be special to make a difference in this world. You just have to choose to get off your ass and do what needs to be done.

“Dark Side” is an interesting piece. I like the way it transitions from straight-ahead rock during the verses to a bouncy, almost cartoonish tone in the chorus. The lyrics, however, are anything but happy. Yes, you’re welcome to come to the dark side, but beware of what lurks within.

The album closes with a song that, to me, is very different from anything Shinedown has ever done. “Brilliant” lives up to its title. Lyrically, the message I get is that everyone, even the most insane or ludicrous among us, can have his day to shine once in a while. Musically, I love the drastic changes in the song. It starts out with keyboards and vocals, and the mix on them gives me a bit of an early Pink Floyd, psychedelic vibe. Then, when Zach’s guitar kicks in, and Barry’s drums begin pounding, it’s hardcore/punk meets metal. It’s a great way to end the album.

If you’ve not already pre-ordered this release either in physical or digital form, I have to wonder what it is you’re waiting for. This looks like it’s going to be a great year for rock and metal, and I have to believe Shinedown will be the cream of the crop. They have my Attention!

Catch the band on tour with Godsmack this summer. For tour dates, merchandise, more information about the band, and links to the fan club, visit shinedown.com.

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