Why do you think the band have named their fifth album after a South African flower that is noted for its ability to bloom indoors during winter? There must be some significance somewhere but I'm fucked if I know what it is.
Anyway, Shinedown came out of Florida in 2002 and have since created an enviable reputation that has resulted in them being hailed as Metal's next great white hope, using a formula that has seen them develop with each release, until now.
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For 'Amaryllis' Shinedown have gone for a big, well produced radio friendly sound that sees them firmly pegged in Nickelback territory. Trying to be arena rock for the twenty first century, the polished production retains just enough ruggedness to hopefully not repel the band's core fans and the fuck quota is enough to get it noticed but not banned.
Conceivably Americana at its heaviest, this album is basically the sort of homogenized corporate Metal that Americans shit on demand. With its imperfections ground out 'Amaryllis' projects the bright shiny myth of the American dream rather than the suppurating trailer park reality of America's underbelly.
So, 'Amaryllis' may just be another album of vacuous corporate Metal but it does have its charms. 'Enemies' And 'My Name (Wearing Me Out)' power along nicely, the album's first single, 'Bully', is a stomping mid paced rocker, the title track has a haunting drive and 'Adrenaline' is a fine rowdy opener.
There are big dramatic choruses of the likes of 'Unity' and the album is shot through with the sort of orchestrations that tell you there has been a bit of money spent on it and of course, there's the inevitable lighter/phone waving big balladry in 'I'll Follow You'. Yet, with the uniqueness of previous studio releases missing and Shinedown seemingly borrowing wholesale from the rock archive, 'Amaryllis', as good as it is, fails to be the step forward it should have been.
It is debatable whether existing fans will take to 'Amaryllis'. There seems to be a consensus suggesting that it does not match up to the band's earlier stuff, sounding like a band treading water, content to just sit in a holding pattern, consolidating its position as a big hitting support act.
However, the irony may well be that it could be the album to break them into the big time. Everything about 'Amaryllis', the structure, the production, the arrangements, is almost perfect but it lacks the power of innovation and a truly killer track.
For those in the know things could prove a bit disappointing, yet for those who have not heard Shinedown, 'Amaryllis' could well be the perfect point of introduction, being a polished slab of undemanding, groovy and inoffensive Metal for the masses.