Known for their powerful and often uplifting songs, Shinedown are set to return with their new studio album, ATTENTION ATTENTION, on Friday, May 4, 2018 via their longtime label, Atlantic Records.
Right on schedule, coming three years following the success of 2015’s Threat to Survival, it would be easy for Shinedown to go soft, seeing they have a broad appeal to the mainstream. As if it is almost a dirty word to say ‘mainstream,’ some may say singles such as 2008’s “Second Chance” is what gave the band the stigmata of being less dangerous in the first place. Well, anyone who has actually been listening knows that is the furthest thing from the truth and Shinedown are, and will always be, a Hard Rock act. Honestly, if they do appeal to the mainstream while doing it, then they are doing something right. That in mind, it should not come as a surprise that as they return with their sixth studio album, produced by Bassist Eric Bass, that they are as razor sharp as ever, delivering an intense sound.
Again, despite what some naysayers may tell you, Shinedown has always composed songs that go straight for the gut – personal, real, and right from the heart. The product of Lead Lyricist and Vocalist Brent Smith, this go around he decides to be even bolder, drafting songs which challenge who we are as a society. No, it is not really a politically driven record at all, but it is more one that stops you in your tracks, grabs hold of your shoulders, looks you in the eyes, and pleads for your attention – hence the almost prementive warning capitalize title, ATTENTION ATTENTION. Furthermore, the album is a concept piece, but not in the traditional sense of the word, more in a centralized theme focusing on the threat we face as we draw closer and closer to losing our humanity.
Consisting of 14 tracks, it is very precise by nature, with the message underlined, and capitalized, in each title. It all starts with a short interlude of footsteps walking into a room, the central hub for our story. From there it leads into the albums first single, “DEVIL,” a heavy opening piece of music. Here Smith, Guitarist Zach Myers, Bass, and Drummer Barry Kerch solidify they are still very much a Hard Rock band ready to make some noise. Catchy, intense, and headbanging, it sets the table for what is to come. “BLACK SOUL” continues the theme heard in the previous cut as Smith forces you, the listener, to confront your prejudices, almost as if to say – get off your high horse and stop acting as if you are better than anyone else.
This theme follows on songs such as “ATTENTION ATTENTION” where Smith almost takes on a Rap style vocal in the verse before a larger than life chorus. With their finger on the pulse of the current climate of the world, particularly America, where everyone is flinging dirt in one another’s faces over differences, the past, or whatever it may be, “KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE” is another telling track exemplified by Smith’s emotional delivery. Then, “PYRO” is very much a metaphor for the actions of us as a culture, burning bridges with everyone we know and love, as Smith fearless sings, “Am I a hypocrite for saying I ain’t feeling this?” – almost a death sentence now a days, in a time where it is think like I think or you are condemned to be an outcast. Speaking of which, “MONSTERS” is a vivid reminder we all have our crosses to bear, and yes, we are all flawed.
At this point the story really has begun taking shape and perhaps the most telling track comes with “DARKSIDE” which pulls no punches literally saying, “Don’t be so quick to judge,” something easy to do when hiding behind a cell phone tweeting hate at will. A highlight amidst highlights, “CREATURES,” with some carefully places strings, comes before the Heavy Metal driven “EVOLVE,” before the the sotfer piano piece, “GET UP.” The latter of this trio may be the most mellow of all, but it is no less effective. More Pop radio friendly, it is a hopeful song reminding us to remain human.
Acting as a turning point for ATTENTION ATTENTION, “special” is a stripped down piece strategically titled in lowercase letters in order to bring us back down to reality, gently letting us know, once more, we are all in this boat called life together. A pretty clear theme, what does it all truly mean? Maybe that could be answered in the album’s second single “THE HUMAN RADIO,” a diverse song driven by an irresistible bass line, leading into heavy guitars, before unleashing around 2 minutes in with a loud and clear call for action to WAKE UP!
By now you may feel as if Smith and company have been shouting in your face most of this record, and that is accurate, but it is important to do so in order to grab the attention of a society so deep in a hole of the disease called digital detachment. Have no fear though, there is light at the end of the tunnel and Shinedown make that clear with the closing of “BRILLIANT” driving home that, yes, we may not be as special as we would like to think, but we still have the power to do wonderful things individually, as well as together.
ATTENTION ATTENTION is truly a topical album that begs for change. What is that change? It is to be more human with one another. What does that mean? It means the path we are taking with social media, obsessions with our cellphones, and spewing thoughts without our own personal filters or feeling of some sort of consequence will only leave us alone, hollow, and empty. A pretty powerful message, what will you make of it and how will you interpret it?
Behind the theme, ATTENTION ATTENTION also is as hard-hitting a Rock record as can be. Shinedown do not mail it in – they deliver heavy guitars, heavy vocals, but most of all, dynamic songs. There are electronic and orchestratic, among other elements entwined into each track. A truly flawless effort from start to finish, guaranteed to arouse your senses, CrypticRock gives ATTENTION ATTENTION 5 out of 5 stars.