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Shinedown have built their name on rock songs both brutal in power and epic in scope. Now, with their latest album, Shinedown (Brent Smith, Barry Kerch, Eric Bass, and Zach Myers) veer away from that densely layered sonic palette and take a more direct approach. Featuring lead single “Cut the Cord” — a blistering track that shot to #1 on Active Rock radio — Threat to Survival finds the multi-platinum-selling band achieving their most powerful sound ever and offering up their most important album to date.
As Smith explains, Shinedown’s approach on Threat to Survival had much to do with the emotionally raw material at the heart of the album. “When we started the writing process we realized the changes that had taken place over the past 2 years, our experiences, the relationships that had come and gone, the album really took on a life of its own,” says Smith. “It’s like the songs were saying to us, ‘The songs were so honest, it felt necessary to present them in the most straightforward way possible.”
In forming the emotional core of the album, Shinedown delved into many of the most thorny issues facing the band members in recent years, such as Smith’s navigating his role as a father. “There’s not any song that’s directly about my son, but as we were writing I was asking myself a lot of questions about what it means to be a good father,” he says. “It forced me to look at who I am as a person and what’s really important to me at this point in my life.” In both the writing process and in the final product, that unflinching self-examination proved sometimes devastating but ultimately life-affirming. “I always say that I write songs because it’s therapy, and that very much held true on the writing of this album,” Smith notes.
“If you’re going to make something that’s going to exist forever, sometimes you have to fight yourself to get out what you need to express,” says Smith. “You need to break down all the walls and get rid of whatever distractions that might be holding you back.”
Shinedown continually bring both staggering musicality and a powerful emotional complexity to their music. “There’s always been a certain level of positivity with Shinedown — that’s even where our name came from,” says Smith. “There’s a sense that everything that’s bad has a little bit of good to it, just like everything that’s good has a little bit of bad. The songs on this album address the reality that we’re all going to die at some point and that sometimes the willingness to survive is all you have. It’s about holding onto that sheer will to live, and getting through whatever might come your way because the legacy that you leave behind is what will carry you on to your next journey.”