Review by Greg Maki
On its previous release, “Threat to Survival” (2015), Shinedown got a little experimental and ventured a bit too far into alternative rock for my tastes. Some may have found it adventurous; to me, it felt like a ploy a stay relevant at modern rock radio more than anything else.
The experimentation continues on the band’s sixth record, “ATTENTION ATTENTION,” a concept album of sorts, telling of a person overcoming negativity and emerging as a changed individual over the course of 14 tracks. Aside from the voice, the band is almost unrecognizable as the one that recorded its first four records.
Produced solely by bassist Eric Bass for the first time, this is a dynamic, dramatic album, with sounds running the full spectrum from the propulsive, hook-laden “DEVIL” (my favorite Shinedown song since “The Sound of Madness” album, released in 2008) to the poppy “GET UP” and the piano ballad “special” to the electronic, almost industrial-like stomp of “THE HUMAN RADIO” (my second favorite Shinedown song since “The Sound of Madness”) and culminating with the upbeat barnburner “BRILLIANT.” The various moods and tones of the record take the listener on an exhausting emotional journey, resulting in a focus and momentum that was missing from “Threat to Survival.”
The only real misfire is the title track, which finds Brent Smith, one of the finest vocalists of the past decade and a half (in any genre), rapping on the verses. I can’t imagine there being too many Shinedown fans wanting to hear that, but I could be wrong.
It’s ironic that when I reviewed “Amaryllis” in 2012, I jokingly referred to it as “The Sound of Madness Part 2,” and now that the band has strayed so far from that on its two records since then, I kind of prefer things as they were. Personal preferences aside, there’s no denying “ATTENTION ATTENTION” is a powerful artistic statement from a band that has become absolutely fearless, and that’s always something to be admired.
(Atlantic Records, May 4, 2018)
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