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So my own life has been quite hectic lately.  Between the runaway train that my band is becoming, visiting family for the holiday, actually trying to make some real effort at work, and a LOT of self-reflecting, I’m somewhat amazed that I’m still functioning!  Most recently helping with that, however, has been the words and music of Shinedown.  Their first 2 releases were, in my opinion, decent albums.  Both filled with these moderate-paced, dark almost brooding kind of songs.  But with their latest release, The Sound of Madness, Shinedown took a bit of a turn.  This album is full of angry, high-energy, fast-paced, driving, hard rock.  And lyrically their most mature album as well.  Singer Brent Smith has always dealt with very personal issues in his lyrics, and his latest work is certainly no different there.  In short, this is almost a reinvented band, for the better.  The music is both catchy and heavy, and the lyrics reach deeper levels than they ever have as well.  Definitely an album to check out.

“Devour” : The band explodes out of the gate with this driving yet incredibly catchy tune.  “Smash it and crash it and thrash it and trash it they’re only toys”  Here they take a stab at war, and their feeling of the senseless destruction caused by it.  “Devour, devour, suffocate your own empire, devour, devour, it’s your final hour”  Definitely a good start.

“Sound of Madness” : No letting up here, a very angry song.  “You think that by crying to me, looking so sorry that I’m gonna believe you’ve been infected by a social disease, well then take your medicine”  A song aimed at those who refuse to help themselves.  People who bitch and complain about their lives and always expect someone else to fix their problems for them.  “I created the sound of madness, wrote the book on pain somehow I’m still here to explain, that the darkest hour never comes in the night, you can sleep with a gun, when you gonna wake up and fight for yourself”  He’s telling how he’s survived on his own through hardship and pain, and basically giving a big ‘fuck you’ to those who won’t even try to help themselves.

“Second Chance” : Slowing it down ever so slightly, the band brings us a very personal topic.  “Tell my mother tell my father I’ve done the best I can, to make them realize this is my life I hope they understand, I’m not angry I’m just saying sometimes goodbye is a second chance”  A song for his parents, telling them that he has to go out and live his own life, whatever that brings.

“Cry for Help” : The energy returns with what is probably the heaviest song on the album.  “You better pray that there’s another way out, you better pray that someone’s listening now, cause when you lie like the devil himself, no angel’s gonna hear your cry for help”  Simply put, a message for liars.  “Because the mind is a weapon see, but you’re not gonna use it on me”  Basically telling those who lie for their own gain how they’ll eventually be left alone because no one will believe them when they really do need it.

“The Crow & the Butterfly” : The first sign of the old, ballady Shinedown, but a powerfully emotional song.  “Just like a crow chasing a butterfly, dandelions lost in the summer sky, when you and I were getting high as outer space, I never thought you’d slip away, I guess I was just a little too late”  A song of lost love.

“If You Only Knew” : Continuing along a similar vein, probably the closest thing to a love song on this album.  “If I drown tonight bring me back to life, breathe your breath in me the only thing that I still believe in is you”  A beautiful song really, if not a bit sad.  Perhaps written after a fight of some sort, but still expressing his true caring for someone.  “If you only knew I’d sacrifice my beating heart before I lose you”  Definitely very powerful stuff.

“Sin with a Grin” : Like a flash the energy and anger returns here.  “Thank you for reminding me of why I am sick inside, thank you for the venom did you think it would paralyze?”  I get the impression that he must endured some quite horrible pain at the hands of someone, but instead of letting it destroy him he uses it.  “You lit the fuse inside my head”  Basically expressing how he takes the wrongs done to him and uses them, in music for example.

“What a Shame” : Some of the deepest, darkest lyrics offered on this album.  “There’s a hard life for every silver spoon, there’s a touch of gray for every shade of blue, that’s the way that I see life, if there was nothing wrong then there’d be nothing right”  A song about a man, someone probably very close to him, that the world looked down on.  “What a shame to judge a life that you can’t change… What a shame to have to beg you to see we’re not all the same”  He tells of how the world shunned and cursed this man, maybe he was a bum on the street or something similar, but even as he died he was a good man, who deserved much better.

“Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide” : As long as their hitting all the happy topics, how about cocaine?  “Tastes like sugar but it’s Novacaine, she’s grinding teeth so she can sharpen the pain”  A fast, furious song about a girl with a very destructive drug problem.

“Breaking Inside” : A song about enduring pain.  “I don’t want to live to waste another day underneath the shadow of mistakes I made”  A song dealing with depression, anger, but yet I get a hint of determination as well, that he won’t let this beat him, no matter how bad it seems.

“Call Me” : A very mellow, somber piano ballad to end this album.  “I had to make a choice that was not mine, I had to say goodbye for the last time… I’ll always keep you inside, you healed my heart and my mind”  A really beautiful song to someone he loves but he has to leave.  “Call me a sinner, call me a saint, tell me it’s over I’ll still love you the same, call me your favorite, call me the worst, tell me it’s over I don’t want you to hurt, it’s all that I can say, so I’ll be on my way”  It’s a very emotional story, telling how he cares so much for this person and is doing what he has to and doesn’t want her to hurt.


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