Amaryllis by Shinedown

Continuing on from previous success with their worldwide successful album “The Sound of Madness,” Shinedown’s evolution does not falter as the inspirational album “Amaryllis” provides a plethora of beautifully produced music, that any and all rock fans can gain inspiration from. This album forms another cornerstone of classic and inspiring rock music, with a down-to-earth purpose that serves to help and empower individuals that feel weak, helpless or lost in their own doubt. They aim to inspire and empower the people to persevere through life and become the person they always wanted to be without fear or regret. Shinedown encourages the individual to open up and show their true colours and become as beautiful as the Amaryllis flower and this is the message of the album to be spread.

Now who are Shinedown? Well, they are a 4-piece rock band from the states that consist of: singer/songwriter Brent Smith, bass player and backing vocalist Eric Bass (pianist too), guitar player and backing vocalist Zach Myers and drummer Barry Kerch. Started in 2002, but with the original  bass and guitar players Brad Stewart and Jasin Todd leaving the band, it provided a change of lineup to include Eric and Zach. Up-to-date, they have released 4 albums and Amaryllis is the latest to be released.

Much to fans’ delights, Shinedown are staying true to the style and sincerity of their music in keeping with a similar format to The Sound of Madness. The power of the opening song Adrenaline fills listeners with excitement and of course… adrenaline! It is a hard rock song that invigorates and gets people to wake up and listen, as it is loud and in your face, while singer Brent Smith continues on and sings about going fast, hard and all out before time is up. Now as to provide a beautiful production of music, soft melodic songs are added to the album which sweetens the mixture and it really makes you think and plucks at those emotions under the skin. You will start to understand this with the self-titled Amaryllis and I’ll Follow You when the contents of the songs discuss about opening up to be your true self and loving someone enough to give undying loyalty. If you are a person who appreciates rock songs to be beautiful as well as aggressive, then the combination of Amaryllis’ soft and hard rock tracks will have you thinking about the life lessons taught and the overall outlook of Shinedown’s brand of rock music. Listening to the album will help you see the purpose of the songs on a personal level as all of them have a deep connection with the band, in particular Brent Smith, who uses anecdotes of his life experiences and hardships to write the songs.

(from left to right: Eric Bass, Barry Kerch, Brent Smith and Zach Myers)

In a basic format, the album alternates between loud and in-your-face, to soft and emotional. What I personally understand from the album, is that it’s a storytelling of all the various kinds of misfits and social outcasts, regardless of age or culture, who are misunderstood or are in need of help or guidance. I envision that Brent Smith puts himself in the stories he sings about and acts as both the helper and the helpless, to which he experiences strength and vulnerability in a somewhat alternating pattern. What listeners will realise, is that the raw emotion in the way the songs are performed can have the power to make you feel that same raw energy that the band put into it. As a result of this, preconceptions upon an initial hearing are blasted out and listeners will feel the reality of the stories hit you in a way that makes you reflect upon yourself. People will begin to picture themselves as a particular character in their most liked songs and apply the messages that the melodies put across into their own lives, so as a result, they become stronger in their convictions and who they feel they are as a person. Unity and I’m Not Alright are perfect examples of this reflection. Fans and listeners will recognise Shinedown’s song Unity as a track about discovering the various kinds of people in the world. That realising we’re all human all the same, we should stand together and be united as one. To reinforce the variety of individuals angle, I’m Not Alright is a track that details being a person with problems or just being different from the rest, to the point that it’s socially unacceptable or just insane in concept. The person with problems doesn’t care, as they like who they are as a human being, to then proclaim that these abnormalities in behaviour or their culture are perfect for them, so they would rather be seen as “Not Alright” than be someone different.

To date, Shinedown have sold over 106,000 copies of Amaryllis and sales do not cease. Ultimately fans new and old, as well as the occasional stranger to the band, should be pleased to know that the excellent production values, with the incredible efforts in songwriting by Smith and the band means that this album is worth the purchase. The updated style, as well as the musical talents of Eric Bass and Zach Myers, mean that Smith and Kerch have solidified Shinedown as one of the most proficient rock bands in the world today. There are no negative aspects about the album, as the negative aspects themselves are within the songs and serve purpose to recognise faults and to help each other develop and grow together as a special family. I am pleased to become part of Shinedown’s family and if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind jewel in terms of rock, then consider listening to Amaryllis and recognise for yourself what it means TO BE yourself.

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