The deep emotionally fuelled, raw personal experiences that seem laced into every chord of new album ATTENTION ATTENTION is more elevated than any of Shinedown’s previous offerings as the tracks propel you through a 50 minute rollercoaster of emotional highs, depressive lows, questionable morals and self discovery.
Expressed as a concept album, ATTENTION ATTENTION is a story told from the protagonist’s viewpoint, exploring the anger, the torment, the denial of the past, facing fears, failing at things and learning to get back up again, while the hope of a brighter future lingers nearby. All of which comes as part of someone struggling with depression and the societal pressures that all contribute to a declining mental state. All this happens while trying to find their sense of self in world that has stripped us of humanity and individuality, where we seek approval from people we don’t know and seek understanding from a world that doesn’t really listen.
In amongst the heavy hitters there’s an angst that lingers just below the surface, a dark attitude that slithers around, rearing it’s ugly head at regular intervals and points out the true problems that face people today in an honest and at times, blunt voice. ATTENTION ATTENTION is a journey, and if you listen closely enough, the message will become all too familiar for those that have seen the dark side of life and hopefully emerged into the light.
From the intro ‘THE ENTRANCE’ we are pushed into the concept of what Shinedown are trying to do with this album. The deep breath’s indicative of someone preparing themselves for what’s ahead, getting ready to face your demons so to speak. There’s an arrogance to the early tracks of the album. ‘DEVIL’ hits you with hard rock from the offset, beginning the tension which explores the idea that “there are no mistakes, except what you create”, that indeed we are all victims of our own choices in life and ‘DEVIL’ forces the protagonist to face those choices, scary as they may be you have to face your fears. ‘BLACK SOUL’ continues the heavy tracks, an aggression laced into the vocals from Brent Smith as the protagonist is forced to face the consequences of their actions, “Face right, Face left, Face everyone you disrespect”. This is the beginning for the protagonist, the part where everything starts to come together and they begin to ask questions of the world around them, “Who’s the victim now?”.
Title track ‘ATTENTION ATTENTION’ has a grimy feel to the intro, it’s bass heavy and vocals delivered in a rap style sequence before the refrain and chorus kicks in. ‘KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE’ outlines the loss of the inner voice, the part of you that sees something wrong with the world, says “this is sick” yet for some reason we continue to go back to those things and adopt the attitude “rather you than me”. It’s the part of the story that asks you to open your mind to the 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year where everyone is constantly tapping into their opinions, voicing them on social media with no concern whether or not they are negative or positive and there is no longer a conscience for the things that people say to each other. It’s an edgy track, heavy in delivery, pounding drums and pummelling the final line of the chorus into your mind, “Do your best, do your worst, show me where it hurts”.
‘PYRO’, with its delicate piano intro and sinister undertones explores the need to understand how the protagonist became the way they are. Are they a victim of their upbringing? Are they who they are because of the past? It causes them to question their identity and where their individuality came from. The track becomes more intense as it progresses, the vicious nature of it hitting hard and heavy.
‘MONSTERS’ pushes the protagonist further to explore and purge the things that bring you down in life, to face the inner demons and acknowledge that the “monsters are real”. The monsters here are the ones that we use against ourselves to either knowingly or unknowingly sabotage our own lives. “Don’t get angry, don’t discourage / Take a shot of liquid courage”, face your inner monster and find a way to move on from it, to stop self sabotaging. ‘DARKSIDE’ has a sinister tone to the track, an almost hallucinogenic feel to the music that welcomes the protagonist to the dark side of a crazed mind.
‘CREATURES’ (one of my favourites on the album) has an almost soothing guitar intro, the rhythm is deep and calming while the vocals increase in intensity throughout the track. “We’re creatures of
habit, we don’t have to answer to anyone,” sings Brent Smith. This is where the protagonist starts to make a change. ‘EVOLVE’ takes that a further step from ‘CREATURES’ and pushes the idea of
changing behaviours so much that there’s no going back to who they once were.
‘GET UP’ was written about bass player Eric Bass and his constant, daily fight with clinical depression. It’s an immersive track, gentle and full of positive reinforcement. It’s probably the most direct track on the album that deals with mental health, its lyrical content attacking depression “I know you’re clinging to light of day / To tell you everything’s A -ok / and medication don't do much / yeh it just numbs the brain”. Brent Smith exudes powerfully raw and real vocals that really hit home. If I were Eric Bass I’d see this song as one that comes from the heart of someone who wants the best for me, who believes in me no matter what I’m going through in life. It’s the song that causes the protagonist to have the face to face discussion with them-self in the mirror, to listen to that voice and pick them-self up off the floor, the positive voice that says you can do this, you just have to “Get up, get up, get a move on / Stop stallin’...”. The chorus will hook you in on the first listen. If this doesn’t motivate you to get yourself up and get busy living then nothing will.
‘Special’ is another contemplative track. It starts out with just Brent Smith’s vocals and a lonely piano. The stripped bare approach forcing the message of the story to the listener. It spells out that we are all the same, yet we need to stop being so condescending towards each other, stop listening for the sake of just replying and genuinely take time to hear each other, stop trying to get one up on everyone else and just be good to each other.
‘HUMAN RADIO’ is the wake up call for everyone who is constantly staring at their phones, stuck on social media scanning everyone’s highlight reel instead of plugging into the real world and just living and communicating with the people around you. Plug into the ‘HUMAN RADIO’ and stop being so absorbed in technology. I love the opening bass on this track, it’s like the heartbeat of the album, rhythmically pounding. It’s a belter of a track and full of attitude.
Final track ‘BRILLIANT’. It’s the final chapter in the realisation that you as a person are just brilliant. You are unique and you can shine, “It’s my day to be brilliant”. The riffs are heavy and
rock the hell out of the album. It’s the final positive reinforcement that encompasses the idea that yes you may go through life and fail at times, but keep going anyway. Keep getting up despite
being knocked down.
The album ends with the sound of a door opening then closing and Brent Smith saying “til next time”. I for one can hardly wait to see what Shinedown come out with on their next album. I feel like I’ve been taken on a journey that leaves me questioning myself. Maybe that’s the point of the album though.
Brent Smith - Lead Vocals
Barry Kerch - Drums
Zach Myers - Guitar
Eric Bass - Bass
KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE