ALBUM REVIEW: Shinedown – Planet Zero – July 1, 2022
Hard rock favorites Shinedown are back with their seventh studio album, Planet Zero. Originally set to be released in April, production delays set it back a few months, but the album finally comes out this Friday! This marks their second album produced by bass player Eric Bass, having been written and recorded at his new studio in South Carolina. Their last album, ATTENTION ATTENTION , could in many ways be considered the bands’ heaviest album to date. The album spawned four #1 singles on the mainstream rock chart, bringing them to seventeen #1 songs total, more than any other artist. That’s a lot to live up to, so where do you go next? As they were recording, singer Brent Smith said they were stripping the production back, removing some of the extra layers they may have added in past records, making an album that simply sounds like a band.
The album opens up with what ultimately is my favorite song on the album, “No Sleep Tonight.” Clocking in at just over two and a half minutes long, this song is the closest to thrash that Shinedown has ever recorded. Guitarist Zach Myers rips a guitar solo in it that has a two or three-measure where he just shreds, which made me do a double take. From there we go into the first single released off the album, the title track, “Planet Zero.” I’ll admit, when this song first came out, Brent’s yelling through the verses took a little getting used to, but now there’s no denying the track rocks, and has a catchy hook.
Of the 20 tracks on the album, only 13 of them are actually songs. “2184” is essentially an intro to “No Sleep Tonight,” almost reminiscent of “The Hellion/Electric Eye” by Judas Priest… perhaps two separate tracks, but really it’s meant to be heard as one song. The remaining 6 tracks on the album are interstitials with a character known as Cyren, a robotic character who is our guide on Planet Zero. As we travel through the album, she gives us updates on our visit, and on the behaviors being mentioned in the songs. Honestly, I could take or leave these tracks from the album. There’s some fun little electronic beats, and they apply to tell the overall story of the album when listening to it as a whole, but ultimately when I add the album to my library, I’ll be leaving them out. It doesn’t take away from the strength of the rest of the songs, It will be interesting to see how they feature into the production of the Planet Zero World Tour.
Being written during the Covid-19 pandemic, the album has themes that show the struggles we’re going through as a planet. Some people may jump to call it a political album, but I’d hesitate to say there’s a political side being taken. The lyrics on this album show frustration with things like cancel culture, and how so many of us talk without listening. On the flip side, the album also delivers messages of reassurance, with “Daylight,” and of acceptance, with “Dysfunctional You.”
ATTENTION ATTENTION had two bonus tracks that could be found on the Walmart exclusive and Japanese releases of the album. Both were great songs, but on parts of Planet Zero, I hear evolutions of them. The chorus of “Clueless and Dramatic” definitely has a similar vibe to “Headcase.” When bands have songs that were never quite officially released, it’s interesting to see what they do with the ideas over time.
A few more highlights of mine on the album include “Dead Don’t Die,” “The Saints of Violence and Innuendo,” and “Army of the Underappreciated.” If it’s not obvious by now, I’m into the more rocking tunes, but Shinedown’s catalog certainly has lots of great ballads, and my favorite on them on this album is probably “A Symptom of Being Human.”
The album ends with “What You Wanted,” a very stripped back song, which features very little, if any, guitar, but a very catchy sing-a-long, that I could see be used to end a Shinedown concert. “So long, we hope you enjoyed the ride…” Just like that, our visit to Planet Zero comes to an end. ATTENTION ATTENTION was my favorite album of 2018, so I wondered how Planet Zero would live up, but I find this album to be a very worthy follow-up
For details on where to find the new album, visit https://shinedown.lnk.to/planetzero. On Friday, to celebrate the release of the album, the band will be live-streaming a free show from St. Petersburg, Florida, and you can find details on how to watch that here.
Shinedown – Planet Zero
- No Sleep Tonight
- Planet Zero
- Dysfunctional You
- Dead Don’t Die
- Standardized Experiences
- America Burning
- Do Not Panic
- A Symptom Of Being Human
- A More Utopian Future
- Clueless And Dramatic
- Sure Is Fun
- This Is A Warning
- The Saints Of Violence And Innuendo
- Army Of The Underappreciated
- What You Wanted