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[Album Review] Shinedown – Attention Attention

It’s fair to say that Shinedown are the kind of band where you know exactly what you pay for. Mixing hard rock with flavours of heavier post-grunge, The Sound of Madness effectively stands as a near-perfect example of fun and catchy rock music; it wasn’t anything revolutionary, but that was hardly the point – you’re here to have a good time, and Shinedown were pretty damn good at that. Fast-forward a decade, and despite what some have considered a misstep with tamer 2015 effort, Threat to Survival, the Jacksonville hard rockers are still going strong if Attention Attention’s ‘Devil’ is anything to go by. Indeed, the slick Zach Myers guitar riff and explosive Barry Kerch percussion saw the band returning to exactly the kind of sound that made the likes of ‘Devour’ so much fun, and with vocalist Brent Smith roaring “cause it’s about to get heavy” it certainly appears that Shinedown’s sixth studio effort is going to be a hell of a ride.

Regarded as something of a concept record by the band, and focusing on the struggles of overcoming personal negativity, Attention Attention’s hefty collection of 14 tracks quickly sheds the far safer direction of Threat to Survival, and this is certainly rewarding; ‘Pyro’ and ‘Black Soul’ both benefit immensely from allowing guitarist Zach Myers a little more room to stretch out and put some really solid riffs on the table, while ‘The Human Radio’s huge, Royal Blood-esque bass guitar sees Eric Bass stepping into the limelight a little to an extremely satisfying result. At a glance, the band definitely feels reenergised, far more akin to The Sound of Madness’ heavier territory and seemingly delivering on their promise: “it’s about to get heavy.”

Continuing this frame of mind and true to the assured direction of the album, the thunderous and somewhat cinematic ‘Evolve’ roars triumphantly and embraces the signature Shinedown hard rock delivery, while ‘Monsters’ joins the ranks of Skillet’s ‘Monster’ and Three Days Grace’s ‘Animal I Have Become’ with Smith lyrically dehumanising the negative side to human personality. Taking a more mellow approach, ‘Kill Your Conscience’ flows back and forth between soft synthesisers and a more energetic, percussion-driven pre-chorus, and generally makes for a nice change of pace, while album closer ‘Brilliant’ dabbles ever so slightly in ‘Summer of 69’s classic guitar riff, before leaping into far more recognisable post-grunge Shinedown territory and ending the record on a noteworthy high.

Unfortunately, while Attention Attention shows once again that Shinedown definitely have a knack for getting your attention, where the album falters shows in what seems a classic case of quantity over quality; while the album’s 14 tracks (and 50 minute runtime) is certainly generous, it also feels somewhat oversaturated compared to the far brisker 40 minute runtime of Threat to Survival. This is first indicated ironically through title track ‘Attention Attention’, feeling much more like an underdeveloped addition to the album or even an unused Threat to Survival B-side, while ‘Get Up’ and ‘Special’ both try their hand at being a little softer compared to the album’s heavier style and end up not really achieving anything worthwhile as a result. That being said, ‘Special’ does actually utilise some particularly stunning acoustic and string elements, but the self-congratulatory applause at the end of the track feels just a little too much on the nose and comes across somewhat hubristic.

As a whole, Attention Attention is an easy step up from the band’s previous effort and offers something that is generally fun and rewarding; it’s nothing revolutionary or ground-breaking, but then it was never going to be. It may not be a perfect record, but there’s enough here to get into that will appease any Shinedown fan, and the band’s energy is infectious enough to hold your attention. In short, it’s everything it needed to be to be a Shinedown record, albeit a little overlong and perhaps a little too pleased with itself at times, but plenty enjoyable to warrant more than a few listens.

M. Stoneman

4 Comments

  1. David Corbett

    As long as we’re giving grades, I give the above review a D.
    What he shoulda wrote was that Shinedown just put out another great album, adding to their string of several great albums.

    The first thing you notice is the musicianship. This is a very dramatic, artistic, hard-rocking album with a multitude of interesting melodies. This album uses a huge number of huge guitar licks from Zach Myers, thunderous drums from Barry Kerch, dramatic room filling bass (and other instruments) from Eric Bass, and soaring piercing gravelly vocals from Brent Smith. On this album they like to create songs that are kinda musically bi-polar, starting out with a melody and mood of a song, only to change it to a completely different melody and mood midway through.

    The second thing you notice is that this album does indeed have a theme, which is very psychological, very concerned with how we treat each other, how we feel about ourselves and our outlook on life. All the songs follow that theme, and its not a new theme for the band. So what you get here is a band at their best, giving you what Shinedown usually gives you: great rock and roll that lifts you emotionally and makes you think. Think Velvet Revolver mixed with Lincoln Park.

    Regarding the quantity of songs, I think Shinedown’s millions of fans will appreciate the extra music, and I don’t understand how a reviewer could criticize that. I didn’t hear one song that sounded like a filler.

    • Derek (AltWire Editor-In-Chief)

      We gave this album a good grade, so your anger feels a bit misdirected. If you look at the Facebook post we made to accompany this as well as the overall score, it was positive. The reviewer enjoyed it but didn’t think it was perfect, which it wasn’t. It was a great album but it had its flaws. It wasn’t as if we gave it a failing grade. I’m not quite sure where your anger is coming from, but we didn’t trash the album. Thanks for commenting.

  2. The Girl with the Shinedown Tattoo

    Hubristic?? Definitely describes the reviewer. It is apparent the reviewer spends more time with his nose in a thesaurus than listening to rock albums. However, everyone has a right to their opinion. I feel the album definitely captures the essence of the band in their current state as do their other five albums at the time they were released. There is no other band that puts the same level of craftsmanship into their albums. Then again I’m probably a bit biased.

    • Derek (AltWire Editor-In-Chief)

      You’re welcome to your opinion and the beauty of opinions is that everybody has them, and that they can differ greatly from person to person. This being said, questioning our ability to review albums is not going to bully us into giving albums that are not exactly perfect, a perfect score. Your fandom for the band is admirable, and they no doubt appreciate your fervor for their music, but we stand by this score and won’t change it no matter how many angry Shinedown fans find our comment section.

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