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Shinedown - Attention Attention (Album Review)

Wednesday, 23 May 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

It’s been 10 years since Shinedown released ‘The Sound of Madness’, one of the greatest metal-infused hard rock albums of this century. Since then, the Jacksonville gang have produced two records that, although crammed with fine moments, didn’t match the calibre and diversity of that contemporary classic. ‘Attention Attention’ may follow suit in that regard, but it’s easily their strongest and most varied effort since setting that benchmark.

Taking listeners on an emotionally gripping journey over the course of 14 tracks, ‘Attention Attention’ spins a story with a beginning, middle and end that follows someone who, having locked themselves away in a room for the record’s duration, undergoes a brutal emotional detox as they face the darkest parts of their soul on a path towards salvation through understanding.

Overall this autobiographical tale, which is drawn from the whole band’s personal experiences, avoids over-reliance on vocalist Brent Smith’s past struggles with addiction and self-help preachiness.

It has been rendered universal and, in the wake of some famous musicians succumbing to their demons, poignant.  

Shining a light on how unresolved fear and trauma causes so much suffering at a time when technology is suffocating human connections, ‘Attention Attention’ finds the band using every weapon in their arsenal to give each song a visceral identity.

On Devil, the protagonist’s terror is presented as an operatic mid-tempo metal nightmare. When family trauma is unearthed on Pyro, its pummelling, purging ferocity recalls the charging militaristic fury of Devour and Cry For Help. Darkside, meanwhile, may begin as a shit-kicking bruiser but, as hallucinations overwhelm our narrator, it collapses into a trippy little wall-crawling chorus. Closing pop-rock firecracker Brilliant offers unbridled positivity as renewed self-confidence and appreciation flow through the protagonist’s veins.

A texturally rich mixture of old and new Shinedown, ‘Attention Attention’ is relentlessly melodic and walks the perfect line between mainstream accessibility and credible metal authenticity. Special is a lighter-waving farewell to one’s ego, Black Soul’s overdriven pogo-riff and drill sergeant vocals recall ‘Threat To Survival’ and The Human Radio offers funky industrial bass licks, touches of electronica and a blunderbuss of a chorus delivered with typical authority by Smith.  

Talking of the frontman, few rock vocalists consistently deliver the goods with such power and profundity. Whether he’s performing a raw, introspective ballad like Creatures, or the uplifting pop-rock gospel of Get Up, he pours his heart and soul into every syllable.

‘Attention Attention’ may end on an impassioned high note, but it’s far from a cheesy Spielberg-esque happy ever after. Smith’s final statement, where he speaks the words ‘until next time’, sends out a crucial message. It’s a sentiment that’s certainly worth paying attention to.





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