Shinedown weren’t always the clean cut, well dressed rockers that they are today. Their third studio album The Sound of Madness was a barrage of pain, politics, love and loss armed with guy liner and those long luscious emo hairstyles that have since disappeared. Not only does the album weigh heavy on content but it is also the first album that made the band push themselves into a whole different class of rock music, and a much darker genre of rock music at that.
Opening track ‘Devour’ and its 40 second drum roll introduction is only a mere build up to the astonishing burst of aggression behind every instrument. The song never slows, like a rollercoaster of hostility, even the bridge sucks you into a spiral of chugging guitars and winding vocals leading up to a punishing last chorus. Following suit to the onslaught, title track ‘The Sound of Madness’ is exactly what is says in the title. A bombardment of gunshot drum beats with lyrics such as “The darkest hour never comes in the night”; it’s enough to make you think about life, and not in the way we all want to.
‘Second Chance’ takes the album down a pace or two, raging with a full blown orchestra by the end of the track, it is a piece of material you didn’t know you needed to hear. Powerfully honest and by far the most relatable track on the album with the lyrics “Tell my mother, tell my father, I’ve done the best I can to make them realise this is my life.” The bridge leads up to a humongous belting note from vocalist Brent Smith and some dynamic drum beats leading to one last chorus.
‘The Crow & The Butterfly’ is in the midst of the slower tracks which brilliantly piece this album together. Smith explained about how he had a hazy dream about a mother losing a child and created a slightly shadowy song about the topic. The animals in the title represent death and life respectively, and the subject of someone special passing ties together a lovely piece of honest story writing that has become a favourite among fans.
‘If You Only Knew’, sounds like it is about to kick into an extravaganza of heavy riffs and drum beats, but instead is a wonderfully written track much like a lot of the tracks on this album. Running in and out of this record like a virus that won’t kill you but instead will just make you think more about topics of life. The idea of loving someone that not everybody sees the same way you do is the subject matter inside ‘What A Shame’. The most potent lyric, “What a shame to have to beg you to see were not all the same” is just a pinch of how widely significant this album is. You can find solace in music and ‘What A Shame’ is the pinnacle of that.
The deluxe re-issue of the album includes Halestorm’s Lizzy Hale as a guest vocalist on the heart-breaking ‘Breaking Inside’ and leaves the listener wondering why she was never considered for the original version; her trademark gritty vocals would have been sure to turn heads. But now in 2016, both bands are among the top dogs in hard rock, and this Shinedown album is a collection of tracks that sky rocketed them to arenas and beyond. This album is what the The Sound of Madness truly sounds like.