About four years ago, a casual friend and I were chatting about all the concerts we wanted to see but could not find anyone else who also enjoyed amazing rock shows. We agreed to see Shinedown together. Impressed with the group’s live performance, I immediately ran out and bought all their CDs. Throughout the last four years, my friend and I have seen more concerts than I can count. Unfortunately, we have not seen Shinedown since our first concert together. So to get my Shinedown fix, I am revisiting my favorite album of theirs, The Sound of Madness.

Originally released in 2008, The Sound of Madness immediately kicks into high gear with a heavy sound and heavy, politically motivated lyrics with “Devour.” The lyrics continually pack a punch throughout the album. The lyrics hit on grief (Crow and the Butterfly), moving on (Second Chance and Breaking Inside), and picking yourself up by your bootstraps and fighting for yourself with the album’s title track. The Sound of Madness also offers Shinedown’s first real love song, “If You Only Knew” incorporating a wonderful full orchestra. The album closes with “Call Me,” leaving the album with a great balance of head banging rock and beautiful ballads.

While singer Brent Smith has not shied away from discussing the meaning and motivation behind the tracks in The Sound of Madness, the brilliantly poetic lyrics allow the listener to apply their own meanings and take something personal from each track. One of my favorite songs on the album “What a Shame” is supposedly inspired by Smith’s uncle. The moral of the story applies to everyone. It’s about not judging. No matter how good or bad someone seems, they possess a unique story and we should all just appreciate people for who they are as in: “There’s a hard life for every silver spoon.” The lyric that may be tattoo worthy for me is “If there was nothing wrong there would be nothing right.” I struggle daily to not focus on what is wrong. But maybe my recognition of what is wrong gives me the drive I am known for.

I have never been mistaken as being nurturing or overly sympathetic. I think that is why I love the get over and move-on attitude of the title song, “Sound of Madness.” I feel like Smith and I could be friends; neither of us want to deal with drama. Smith’s blunt lyrics in “Sound of Madness” and “Cry for Help” can’t be mistaken. Life is too short for drama.

Say what you will about Shinedown; some reviewers have compared them to (gasp) Nickelback. But Smith’s deep, rich vocals, Nick Perri’s guitar hooks and Barry Kerch driving beats make for one hell of an album. (Note: the band had some line-up changes before and after this album.) Head banging songs, intermixed with poetic, beautifully orchestrated rock ballads gives the entire album variety and balance. The Sound of Madness is fantastically crafted and is a must have for any rock fan.

I want to say thank you to my concert buddy for turning me on to Shinedown. Little did I know that going to a Shinedown concert would forge a friendship that would see an after party with Pop Evil, blood drenched t-shirts from standing front row at Motley Crue and Kip Winger grabbing my ass. Here’s to making more concert memories and hoping Shinedown tours again soon.

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Let me know what you think of The Sound of Madness. Follow me on Twitter @justjoy1 or leave a comment on the Get It on Vinyl Facebook page.