Is it okay to admit liking Shinedown now?
Fourteen years after they formed, the Florida four-piece who once sounded like they desperately wanted to be huge are now, well, huge. They’re a bit cheesy, their songs are inoffensive, radio friendly unit shifters and they’re perfectly designed to appeal to people who’ve grown up on pop music and haven’t heard a single ‘proper’ rock band yet. Strictly speaking, we should hate them for being so shamelessly commercial, but they’ve always been very good at what they do and ‘Threat To Survival’ isn’t going to be their downfall. It’ll almost certainly go Gold before a year has gone past and if you’ve been waiting for Shinedown to put a foot wrong, this isn’t it.
It’s also noticeably rockier than 2012’s ‘Amaryllis.’ That album was terrific, but it had a wealth of ballads that kept the mood soft and ‘Threat To Survival’ feels like a direct reaction to that. They still get a bit sympathetic but it’s not until the ninth track that anything even close to ‘I’ll Follow You’ or ‘Second Chance’ emerges. The emphasis is on big, booming anthems with power chords blasting out the speakers at full volume and the likes of ‘Asking For It,’ ‘How Did You Love’ and ‘Cut The Chord’ are going to get the punters slam dancing and crowd surfing as much as singing along.
Recent single ‘Black Cadillac’ meanwhile is a groovy little number, swaggering at a modest pace designed to get thousands of people clapping in unison and the gentle piano intro to ‘Oblivion’ soon gives way to more bombastic material. That said, when they do get round to the ‘lighters in the air’ material, Shinedown still deliver. ‘Thick As Thieves’ is a beautiful soaring crooner that’s slightly reminiscent of ‘Pompeii’ by indie band Bastille, while the closing ‘Misfits’ is going to be the soundtrack to teenage romances across the globe.
There’s going to be few hardened metallers who swear blind they hate it and only have the album because their girlfriends like it too. While ‘Threat To Survival’ is good though it’s not a must-have. Newcomers to Shinedown would be better off starting with their debut or 2008’s excellent ‘Sound Of Madness’ which is still their creative peak. They haven’t delivered a bad record yet, but this is more a collection of good songs that could have been arranged in any order rather than a fully cohesive body of work. It’s great to hear them unleashing their angry sides again however and while it is a bit short, ‘Threat To Survival’ is embarrassingly entertaining. They’re not the cool guys at the party, but they are the ones with the most friends.
Strictly speaking, we should hate them for being so shamelessly commercial, but they’ve always been very good at what they do and ‘Threat To Survival’ isn’t going to be their downfall.