The Sound of Awesome!

Shinedown are probably the biggest band you’ve never heard of. Coming from Jacksonville Florida they have become quite the rock band in their native US, been going for over 8 years and have hundreds of gigs under their belt

In the UK they are one of the best kept secrets in rock. Avid viewers of Kerrang! and Scuzz will have seen the recent video’s, but 'The Sound of Madness' has been a long time coming. Released in the US last Summer, it will be the first official release in the UK for Shinedown, and with many trials and tribulations along the way. It’s almost a complete change in personnel from 2005’s ‘Us and Them’ with only Barry Kerch keeping his seat along with founder and lyricist extraordinare, Brent Smith.

Ive followed they guys since 2005 and felt like an estranged step-father, keeping a close eye on their development from afar, watching the band grow and mature, none more so than with this new release. The whole album is tighter than the previous two, the songs in most cases have a point to put across, very strongly in the case of ‘Devour’ an attack on George Dubya’s Iraq policy . I'm not sure how old Brent is, but he’s put his every fibre and being into his songwriting, and has a maturity well beyond his young years. Supposedly after he met with producer Rob Cavallo, (who has done a superb job with the songs), Brent went away and wrote over 60 songs for this album. In whittling it down to 11 or 15 depending on which version you buy, he’s not put a foot wrong. Most of the songs on ‘The Sound of Madness’ are destined to be heard on the radio in the US, already the first two singles in the US went straight to No.1 in the Mainstream Rock Charts.

Its a real tour de force, straight from the off 'Devour' is a hard hitting (politically and musically) opener, part nu metal / grunge / melodic metal in style. The attack on the senses continues, the flow of the songs works well, 'The Sound of Madness' continues in the same vein, before the stunning ‘Second Chance’, a mesmeric lighter track than most of what they are known for (up until now). Its textured music, along with a string section really opens up new doors for them. This song will be HUGE in the US. ‘Cry For Help’ is yet another powerful anthem. The ‘all killer, no filler’ trend continues with the hypnotic power ballad, ‘Crow & Butterfly’, another song built for Arena audiences. ‘Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide’ is the heaviest dirtiest riff you’ll hear this side of Disney World. ‘What a Shame’s' chorus is very close to Metallica for comfort, so much so it could have appeared on the Black album it sounds that familiar. That's Smith!, four equal parts Hetfield / Van Zant / Kroeger / Cornell, equates to 100% Brent Smith.

Its all very powerful stuff, with not a single drop in quality from the Floridians from start to finish. If a band had a defining moment then 'The Sound of Madness' is it, for all the planets have aligned in their favour, and the Gods have been favourable indeed.

If I could have voted for it last year, this was (and still is) my album of the year!