CD Reviews

Shinedown - 'The Sound Of Madness' (Deluxe Edition) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 19, 2011    
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For anyone who has yet to pick this album up the deluxe version is utterly essential.

The original US release of this album was back in July 2008 and several months later it was an easy choice as my album of the year. The ensuing 2 years have seen several versions of 'Sound Of Madness' become available but this is far and away the definitive edition, though currently only on sale in America (at the time of writing). Critical opinions were very much divided when the CD first appeared 2 years ago. Comparisons to Nickelback were indicative of the feelings towards 'modern' sounding bands whilst the AOR community seemed to have a difficult time admitting that Shinedown had created something of a hard hitting melodic gem outside the pink & fluffy box. Though no masterpiece (time will tell), on reflection my first review was something of a damp squib and if this were a brand new product I'd be wiping my drool up with a mop! 

I guess if I'm harsh this is another example of a record company milking an already successful release in lieu of something new but that would be rather unfair based on how much 'Sound Of Madness' has actually been expanded and improved upon with 'fresh' material. Nine bonus tracks have been added to augment the eleven track version which hit the UK stores back at the start of 2009, though a handful of these actually formed part of the original writing sessions and were included on an earlier 'Fan Club' version of the CD. 'I Own You', 'The Energy', 'Son Of Sam' and 'Junkies For Fame' are all uptempo work-outs highlighting Brent Smith's distinctive delivery to perfection. The aggressive temperament is filtered through an uncompromising yet thoughtful musical framework and the structure of every song on the album lends itself to an immediate hook and some outrageously addictive melodies. Smith's creative juices were obviously in overflow when coming up with these songs and it's testament to his writing abilities that they've lost none of their appeal after repeated (and I really mean repeated) plays during the last 24 months or so. The remaining 'extra' tracks are where things really start to get interesting as they are all a product of 2010. The acoustic version of 'Second Chance' exemplifies how good the band are with anything remotely subtle and Smith shines once more with a moving performance.

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The new 'Pull' remix of 'Crow & The Butterfly' doesn't quite work. In a way it's an interesting treatment of an emotional song but it doesn't really compare with the powerful impact of the normal mix. 'Her Name Is Alice' and 'Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)' are the two tracks I was looking forward to hearing most of all. Though both have been available on various internet sites for months I held out as long as possible to hear the 'official' versions. Taken from the soundtracks to 'Alice' and 'The Expendables' respectively they represent the first writing contributions from guitarist Zach Myers and bass player/producer Eric Bass. The 'Alice' track is a moody almost surreal piece that fits the subjects lyrical themes perfectly whilst 'Diamond Eyes' bounces along with an incendiary infectiousness and an instant chorus begging you to shout it out. Enlisting the services of both Rob Cavallo and Chris Lord-Alge results in an explosive sound and the drums especially are immense. Finally we have an alternate take on 'Breaking Inside' featuring a Lzzy Hale co-vocal. There's no real difference to the original but it does reveal how good Brent & Lzzy sound together. Halestorm and Shinedown have toured together extensively alongside Papa Roach during the last few years and it's a nice way to round the CD off.

The second disc is a DVD featuring 7 promo videos, 5 performance videos and an interview with the individual band members conducted earlier in the year. 'Devour', 'Second Chance', 'Sound Of Madness', 'If You Only Knew' and 'The Crow & The Butterfly' are the promos of note and as I'd only seen a couple of them on the music channels before they were a nice addition. Though typical I guess of many such videos they are a nice accompaniment to the song with 'Devour' naturally having the most energy. The performance videos were filmed at a show in Atlanta and include 'Save Me', Devour', 'Call Me', 'Second Chance' and 'Sound Of Madness'. Having witnessed Shinedown live twice in the last couple of years I'd question whether the tracks were worked on in post production as Brent sometimes struggles with some of the notes. There's no denying his enthusiasm however and the band's visual style generates a great atmosphere in front of a welcoming crowd.

For anyone who has yet to pick this album up the deluxe version is utterly essential. If you already own a copy I still believe that a tenner is a small price to pay for a handsome set of extras on what is already an acclaimed piece of work.

Dave Bott

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