By Ellen Eldridge
Shinedown may sound like a guilty pleasure for fans afraid to admit they enjoy mainstream music, but with its fourth studio release, Amaryllis, Shinedown brings more than catchy melodies and contagious vocal lines. The fast-paced introduction with “Adrenaline” proves Shinedown is not merely a pop band, and though the song touches on thematic clichés of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, this is the kind of song to get a tired band back on the road or a regular man hyped for another day at a dull job.
“Bully” takes a very accessible approach to the ideas Marilyn Manson touched on in “Lunchbox,” but rather than beating down the schoolyard bully with a lunchbox, Shinedown encourages a strength-in-numbers approach to accepting the people in life who only want to keep you from your goals. This would make a great song to work out to, especially if you happen to be working out at 8 a.m.
The title-track makes the entire album feel like a love letter to the fans because “Amaryllis” sounds off as the first track on the album to get personal. Lyrical questions like “Ask yourself, where would you be without days like these?” pair up with the chorus, “So, do I remind you of someone you’ve never met” and resolve with, “I wish you’d open up to me because I want to know you, Amaryllis.” The ideas could break down into elements of any old love song, but Shinedown’s presentation envelopes not only the personal love interests in the songwriter’s life but also everyone who helped the band by “wanting to know them.”
Not that every track on Amaryllis deserves discussion, the tracks toward the end, “For My Sake” and “My Name (Wearing Me Out)” stand out because of the hard-hitting impact of both the lyrical themes and the pairing with the music. The dynamic build-up in “For My Sake” feels like being pounded by the drums and tossed into the chorus. The low tone to the vocals writhes against the guitar melody and calls out to the listener.
“My Name (Wearing Me Out)” could be the next anthem for every single person fighting against those who’d speak against his dreams. For everyone who’s ever felt worn out by someone calling him “worthless” or dragging him down, this is the anthem. The well-placed expletive adds impact to the song; this is an example of using strong foul language to make a point. No 30 repetitions of every curse word is needed to show anger or frustration. The way the music cuts out before the line, “My name is revenge and I’m here to save my name,” and then brutalizes with the line “You’re fucking wearing me out,” will take Shinedown fans to a heavier place.
The closing track, “Through the Ghost” feels much more like a ballad than a majority of the other tracks, but its effect with the string elements just rounds out the idea that Amaryllis is a love letter to fans. Shinedown strikes as a band incredibly grateful for its fans. Through ups and down, personal strains on relationships and the empowerment of mainstream recognition, Shinedown speaks not only to its fans but also about them. Amaryllis stays accessible and radio-friendly while not compromising on integrity. Fans will love this release because the line, “The world will never know you like I do,” resonates inside every fan who feels like he knows the songwriter after a few spins of a CD.