Shinedown – Planet Zero (Album Review)

Back in 2018 Shinedown tried to warn us of the dire societal path we were headed with the bold album ATTENTION ATTENTION. Now four years later, the shadow casted over us is ever larger, thus inspiring Shinedown’s latest observational work Planet Zero

Marking Shinedown’s seventh overall studio album, before we even place the magnifying glass over Planet Zero, we must recap its clear companion, ATTENTION ATTENTION. As mentioned, ATTENTION ATTENTION came at a time of unrest in the world; political lines were drawn, everyone was pointing fingers at each other, and tensions were rising. Now four years since, we have lived through a pandemic where governments across the globe blanketly shutdown civilization, political venom is even more vicious than before, and whether we believe it or not, we are amidst a civil war. Not the type of civil war happening on a battlefield, at least not yet thank goodness, it is one where words are weapons with any of us on any given day being fair game. Call it alarmism, but if we take a moment to disconnect from our screens to actually take a look around, we will see what is going on; just ask Shinedown who allude to our blinders through our ‘connection obsession’ throughout ATTENTION ATTENTION. To clarify, no one in their right mind should want to pour gasoline on the fire of any kind of division, and no one should ever want to engage in any sort of physical or verbal war; again, just ask Shinedown… listen to 2008’s “Devour.” This in mind, with the path becoming narrower and trees closing in, Planet Zero is the obvious next step for Shinedown. 

You see, any good art imitates life, and furthermore, the best art is one that gives an observational view. What this means is not necessarily preaching atop a soap box, but giving a point of view that is educated in order to spark the critical thinking process. This is exactly what Shinedown does within twenty tracks that make up Planet Zero. Lasting just under fifty minutes, the album has all the key emotions that amplify its effectiveness- a true sense of anger aimed at a new world order, an intelligent explanation for such anger, proposed resolution, and last but not least, hope when all seems lost. Doing this with a concept format, there are striking narratives in between most of the songs; pieces where artificial intelligence warns us of non-compliance, tells us how we should be feeling, and if we do not, alert us of our inevitable re-education. Very science fiction indeed, but not at all far from reality, the brief dialogue tracks perfectly segue into each of the songs that follow, and if anything, allows us to raise our own questions about the world at hand. 

A lot to absorb, as stated, Shinedown does not force any of this down your throat, but instead sparks the flame that allows you to burn your own fire in whichever way you wish. This is the case with “No Sleep Tonight,” a piece with a much-needed rebellious Punk attitude. Perhaps the heaviest, most powerful song the band has ever recorded, it makes sense that the album’s lead single and title-track, “Planet Zero,” would directly follow. Speaking of which, “Planet Zero” was our first preview into Shinedown’s latest work and it is no doubt the perfect anthem for anyone who wants to shout out their frustrations while witnessing the accelerated fire burning our world to ashes.  

From here the album flows rather smoothly with many other standout moments. You have “Dysfunctional You” where we are reminded that not everything in life needs mending… so why not revel in who you really are. There is also the intense “America Burning” which has the brilliant lyrics, ‘You might be woke but not awake.‘ Furthermore, “America Burning” has an unusual interjection of a banjo, but it flawlessly sets the mood for a story about a country where chaos is in season.

Later on, there is the equally jolting “Clueless and Dramatic” which urges us to disconnect from the machine; one which is controlling our thoughts, our emotions, and inevitably, our lives. And while there are these great riff-based songs sprinkled throughout Planet Zero with heaviness and potency alike, there are also softer moments as well – this includes the fittingly titled “Hope” about daring to take a direction different from the herd, plus the bright, beautiful single “Daylight.”

So, what do you get when the dust settles on Planet Zero? You get another fantastic Shinedown record that is equally as powerful as ATTENTION ATTENTION. For many ATTENTION ATTENTION might be difficult to match because it struck a lot of nerves on so many levels within each song. That said, Planet Zero does not at all let down, but instead offers plenty of moments where your heart, soul, and ears will be tingling all at once. The bottom-line is Shinedown are living up to what a real Rock-n-Roll should be, and that is fearlessly saying what they want to say. For yet another great effort, Cryptic Rock gives Planet Zero 5 out of 5 stars.

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