For me, it is easy to rank the albums of certain bands. I find the trajectory of the albums fairly clear and consistent. Other times, bands have a lot of awesome albums, packed with wonderful songs. For me, Shinedown is one of those bands. I looked at a Reddit post before starting this list just to see how other people would rank Shinedown’s albums. I was a little shocked to see how diverse the rankings were. Throughout the post, every album was placed on top at least once.
Still a little unsure of my ranking, I dove into research mode. I wanted to look at album sales. I don’t think it is necessarily the best way to judge how good an album is, but it couldn’t hurt. Older albums could rack up sales over time and claim the desirable “platinum” title and thus have an advantage. With this in mind, I started looking through the Recording Industry Association of America’s website. According to the RIAA, Shinedown has two records certified Gold and three certified Platinum. Needless to say, this information firmly backed up what I discovered on Reddit.
At this point, I could analyze the RIAA data a little more and come to some conclusion. For example, The Sound of Madness reached the coveted status of “Double Platinum” in June of 2016, eight years after it was released. It was labeled Platinum faster than any of the band’s other records. Could this mean it is Shinedown’s “best” record? Not necessarily and most certainly not in my case.
6) Us and Them
According to the RIAA, Shinedown’s second record was certified Platinum in March of this year. It has achieved this lovely title thirteen years after its 2005 release date. Yet, I put it in last place on my list. As always, this doesn’t mean it isn’t worth listening to or seeking out. There are a lot of enjoyable songs scattered across the record.
I enjoy the first track, which isn’t even a song. It’s a short poem recited by children. “Heroes”, the next song and first proper tune, is wonderful. It resembles the classic Shinedown sound that is found on later albums. “I Dare You” and “Yer Majesty” are two more tracks worth investigating. I found “Lady So Divine” an intriguing tune, however, the length might put some people off. So far, it is the band’s longest tune, creeping just beyond the seven-minute mark.
The biggest drawback I found with the album is that it lacks the sound that Shinedown developed in later albums. It doesn’t have the heavy, full sound of The Sound of Madness nor does it have the cleanly produced sound of Amaryllis. The roots of this sound are certainly there; however, they aren’t capitalized on. Us and Them also lacks the odd, yet very delightful poppy feel of Threat to Survival.
5) Leave a Whisper
Wait, how can Us and Them be penalized for not having the same sound as later albums while Leave a Whisper is ranked higher, when it certainly doesn’t have the same sound as any of Shinedown’s other records? I prefer the songs on Leave a Whisper to the songs on Us and Them. I enjoy them more. Additionally, I think Leave a Whisper more energetic and unique than Us and Them.
If you love Shinedown’s recent work, listen to this record. It will shock you. The band’s sound has evolved tremendously since their debut release. To me, this album kind of resembles Amaryllis insofar as it has a commercial rock feel. Leave a Whisper also has a more raw and youthful vibe, where Amaryllis feels smoother and mature.
The opening track, “Fly From the Inside” was my introduction to Shinedown. I first heard it playing on a baseball videogame on my PlayStation 2 before I realized that I didn’t like sports. Anyway, at times I would start the game up just to listen to the music on it. Fast-forward to high school, when I “discovered” Shinedown, I had no idea that “Fly From the Inside” was their song until I poked it into YouTube.
“45”, “Burning Bright” and “Left Out” are other great tracks worth investigating. “Simple Man” is also a must. We played this cover at my father’s funeral, and I still have to fend off tears when the song plays. The simplicity of the song is haunting and beautiful.
For me, ATTENTION ATTENTION, The Sound of Madness and Threat to Survival are closely tied. If you go by the number of albums sold, The Sound of Madness clearly takes the cake. However, I generally dislike strictly going by album sales.
In my book, The Sound of Madness and ATTENTION ATTENTION are tied for the top two slots, with Threat to Survival coming in a close second. Amaryllis trails closely behind in third. Threat to Survival is one of the few albums that I did not initially care for but ended up growing on me over time. Something special about the album kept me coming back.
On the other hand, ATTENTION ATTENTION is more ambitious than the rest of the band’s albums. It is a concept album, plus the band incorporated a variety of new elements while retaining the same sound and attitude that made them famous. However, The Sound of Madness is an album made entirely of singles. For me, this is the only edge The Sound of Madness has over ATTENTION ATTENTION.
Somehow, the first Shinedown album that I devoured was Amaryllis. I picked up a copy during a time that I was constantly digesting new music and expanding my iTunes library. I suppose it was just a matter of timing.
On Amaryllis, the band traded the grittiness and heaviness featured on The Sound of Madness for a more radio friendly blend. This wasn’t a bad trade. However, I think Shinedown can thrive with almost any sound. Look at the evolution of their first few albums, each one was different and great.
I recommend listening to this entire album. Most tracks on the album could have been a single. There is a brilliant mix of slow and fast songs, all showcasing the band’s ability to build songs and Brent Smith’s song writing ability. Personally, “I’m Not Alright” and “Nowhere Kids” have always been favorites. Both musically and lyrically, I find the songs are alluring. “Bully” was a widely played single and a fun tune. While the title track wasn’t a single, it should have been.
3) Threat to Survival
I didn’t care for the new elements Shinedown adopted for this album. For the most part, I don’t like when any musician adds electronic qualities to music. However, Shinedown pulled it off.
Naturally, this is their most catchy album. The singles are solid tracks. Of the four singles, I really enjoyed three of them: “Cut the Cord”, “State of my Head” and “How Do You Love”. “Cut the Cord” is a beautiful lead single. It meshed the band’s new sound with their older, heavy sound. Plus, like many of Shinedown’s songs, it is really catchy. “State of My Head”, another infectious single that should have come with a warning, because the lyrics will remain in your head all day.
“Misfits” and “Black Cadillac” are two songs that weren’t granted “single” status, even though they should have. “Misfits” is a wonderful slower tune that should speak to anyone that’s felt rejected, while “Black Cadillac” is another fun song that is horrendously catchy.
2) ATTENTION ATTENTION
I fell in love with this album pretty quickly. Musically, it is a logical next step for the band. They are building on the heavy sound they captured on The Sound of Madness, while adding in some of the elements they experimented with on Threat to Survival. The addition of electronic and pop elements are usually a not something I approve of, however, Shinedown has implemented them successfully.
“DEVIL” is an amazing lead single that deserves a lot of attention and air time. This song is a good example of the new sound the band has been attempting to construct. It blends poppy themes with heavy rock elements.
As with the rest of Shinedown’s albums, ATTENTION ATTENTION has several songs that could easily become singles. “BLACK SOUL” and “GET UP” are two seemingly obvious choices for singles. “BLACK SOUL” will please fans of the band’s heavier work while “GET UP” is a very radio-friendly tune. “BRILLIANT” and “special” would also make my list. I found both songs enjoyable and marked with a taste of something unique.
1) The Sound of Madness
I feel this is the classic Shinedown album. The Sound of Madness went “Multi-Platinum”, which undoubtedly cemented their relationship with their record company and earned them a special place on their producer’s mantle. If nothing else, this record made them popular in many circles.
I wholeheartedly believe this entire record is worth listening to. Of the six official singles, my favorite is the last one, “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom).” Oddly enough, this tune wasn’t even on the original release. It came from a deluxe version.
This record has s deeper and more aggressive sound than most of the band’s albums. There are moments where Amaryllis shows its teeth and Leave a Whisper has intense songs. However, The Sound of Madness reigns supreme. The opening track sets a vigorous tone, which is continued for the entire album. The only moments this lets up are when the band wants to lower their energy and embrace an easy tempo.