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5.0 out of 5 stars The Sound Of Madness [Explicit] [Deluxe], 13 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Sound Of Madness [Explicit] [Deluxe] (MP3 Download)
Shinedown is a Rock and Roll band. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.

Do not try to classify them as Alt Rock or Metal or College Rock or Nu Metal or even Stadium Rock. They are none of those. Although the band takes bits and pieces of all those styles (and then some), the music from the band's third full-length is just a lot of good straight-ahead Rock and Roll.

Nothing on this album is going to change anyone's life. There really is nothing new or Earth-shatteringly original included here. But likewise, there really isn't a weak track on the record. From the first song, and incidentally, the first single on the album, "Devour" all the way through to the last track, "Call Me" Shinedown has crafted a record that will appeal to may kinds of listeners and will surely garner attention to the Jacksonville, FLA outfit.

The Sound of Madness really puts its best foot forward as Shinedown has chosen to start its third release with its first single and its strongest track, "Devour." The song starts with a drum beat and builds up to a crescendo as lead singer Brent Smith enters with his gravelly voice singing "Taking, taking, taking taking it all; taking, taking, taking, taking – until you take a fall." The heavy guitars and pounding rhythms combine to form a sure-fire hit song reminiscent of some of the better heavy metal acts of the early-to-mid 1980s.

The album's title track continues the Shinedown onslaught of heavy sound. The track has a rap-rock feel to it throughout the verses, but somehow also still manages invoke feelings of Ronnie James Dio in the chorus.

Shinedown manages to balance the album's pace quite well in the early going, mixing up the softer ballad-like tracks like "Second Chance" and "The Crow and the Butterfly" in between pounding, thindering tracks like "Cry for Help" and "Sin with a Grin". The band mixes its styles very well throughout those tracks as well. The track "The Crow and the Butterfly" is a modern track that has hints of Incubus that mesh well with a full orchestral background while "Sin with a Grin" pays homage to Load-era Metallica, albeit without the icky feeling that overcomes one who is forced to listen to Load.

The song "What a Shame" is a very good rip-off of the Everlast tune "What it's Like". The Shinedown tune is a ballad-esque moral tale that essentially rebukes anyone who would look down upon those who are down on their luck. It twists the morality tale a bit and adds some more guitar, but the sound of Brent Smith's voice – gravelly and edgy throughout most of the album – suddenly becomes softer, more introspective and even smooth.

The album suffers a little toward the end as it tries to shove too many ballads and soft rockers together. While all of the tracks are good, solid songs, the pacing is so different from the first half dozen tracks that it gives the listener an empty feeling inside. After kicking ass in the first half of the album, the drop-off to finish up the album is really a let down for the listener and leaves a whole where that feeling of finality should be.

All in all, The Sound of Madness is an effort that proves Shinedown to be a solid songwriting bands in today's rock and roll industry. Expect the band to build on this effort and continue its live show excellence as well. If you are in the mood to recall the heyday of good old fashioned 1980s rock and roll with no angles or sub-genres, this is the album for you.
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