Review of Shinedown's album The Sound Of Madness
Shinedown are one of those bands that sell millions of records in the U.S. but are largely ignored in Britain; this is probably because they aren't nearly ironic or self absorbed enough to drag most NME types away from their iPhones.
Given that the main rock export from the Floridian quartet's home state consists of people who worship old nick, release albums with titles like Reek of Putrefaction and sing like they've swallowed a pine cone, The Sound Of Madness' stark cover and grim inlay photography might put the casual observer off. Those who ignore the slightly hackneyed iconography (Hand grenades, battle helicopters, brains etc.) and just dive in however may well be scratching their heads afterwards, because the band may look like Korn, but they make a racket which sounds more like Nickleback.
Ah yes Nickleback, Canada's nu metal answer to mom's apple pie, purveyors of some of the most slack-jawed cliches in recent music history. You hear the name, and you run like hell. And normally I'd agree with you. But in the case of Shinedown anyone intimidated by the band's plethora of tattoos, hair braids and screwfaces should skip immediately to The Sound of Madness' fifth track, The Crow & The Butterfly, an acoustic ballad so lighters in the air I nearly burned a hole in the ceiling. I'd probably also let the prosecution submit the similarly aspirated Second Chance as further proof of their lambs in wolves clothing approach, along with If You Only Knew, a cornball stab into recent Aerosmith territory
Seeing as we're taking sides, I might argue back that they can rock and do meaning - blistering opener Devour spits fire at the Bush administration's empirical foreign policy - and the likes of Sin With a Grin, Cry for Help and Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide all do enough to stop sand getting kicked in their face. I could also talk about the slick execution of the whole thing. But mainly, whether you rate The Sound of Madness is going to be determined by how much you buy into the hoodies do stadium rock concept, or whether you think American music in general ceased to exist artistically after Odelay.