Amaryllis [Atlantic Records]

FM radio rockers Shinedown return with their fourth studio album in almost a decade of existence, Amaryllis. While little has changed about the band’s user-friendly, hard rock sound since that 2003 debut, their newest effort shows exactly why they’ve gone from playing bars to arenas in recent years. The twelve tunes on Amaryllis are the kind of songs that incite listeners to pump either their fists or lighters in the air, depending on the mood of the song. After their first three albums produced around a dozen singles/radio hits, it feels like they felt obligated to pen an entire album’s worth of chart-topping anthems this time out. That’s exactly how Amaryllis stuck my ears. The songs are catchy, well-written, polished and they all speak loudly to the masses. Which is exactly the problem. There’s very little sense of adventure or danger on this album, which have both, historically at least, been key ingredients to a great rock n’ roll record. Shinedown just seems content to play it safe on this one. Even during those moments when things get crunchy and tease experimentalism (“Enemies” comes to mind), the vibe still feels contrived. Sure, this is a solid display of modern/active/radio rock, it’s just not very interesting as rock n’ roll records go. The masses might be better served with something a little more challenging. – Ryan Ogle

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