Review by @kyatty2007 aka Nicole P.
I eagerly awaited Shinedown’s 7th studio album, Planet Zero. I was bummed when they delayed the April ’22 release to July due to production issues with the vinyl. But I understood that they wanted everyone to enjoy it and to ensure everyone who ordered vinyl was able to get it upon release.
Shinedown has been one of my favorite bands for over a decade now and I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live many times at this point (though admittedly I have not kept count). So, I waited with bated breath for the July release and then I waited even a bit longer, because as with everything, the shipment didn’t arrive for several days after release. Then, because life (i.e., work sucked) I wasn’t able to give this beautiful vinyl a whirl until Saturday, July 16, a couple of weeks after release. I had also gotten the CD but wanted my first full listen from beginning to end to be on vinyl.
So, while putting away some laundry and other household chores, Planet Zero finally hit my record player. I had to sit with my thoughts on a couple of days, because admittedly, I was torn. On one hand, I really love the songs, but I really am not a fan of the robotic female voiced introductions to each song. Let’s break that down…
Each song is amazing. They are exactly what we’ve come to expect from Brent Smith, Zach Myers, Barry Kerch, and Eric Bass. You have the uplifting bangers like the title track to your more ballad-like songs in Daylight. Most are sending a very positive, albeit more overtly political, messages. The political messages are vague and could apply to either of the 2 major American political parties. I believe even the band has said the overall message of Planet Zero is, in my very condensed and not at all an actual quote, meant to call out today’s culture and the absolute polarization of it all. Planet Zero does exactly this. Most of the songs are directly about the bullshit going on in the US right now. To me, Planet Zero calls out the real possibility of life in the US becoming a bad dystopian novel if we don’t all wake up. But there is hope to be found if one looks (Daylight).
I absolutely love the actual songs. Each track is Shinedown’s signature sound but it’s not like any of their prior albums. You can hear the growth, which one should expect with each new album a band puts out. With 7 studio albums out, a listener should be able to expect a certain sound from a band, which Shinedown delivers. What shouldn’t happen is the music shouldn’t be stagnate—that an album feels/sounds too much like old albums. I did not get that feel from Planet Zero. I got the comforting tones of Brent Smith’s distinct voice, coupled with the heavy guitars of Zach Myers and Eric Bass, with Barry Kerch giving the heavy hits on drums, which is what I want in a Shinedown album. What I did not get was that Planet Zero sounds or feels like any of their prior albums. I think I need to do a full listen to all 7 albums, in order of release, to give better insight to their growth in their sound spanning their career.
However, I am not a fan of the song introductions. I get the why behind it. It’s meant to feel like you’re in an alt universe/country. So, this robotic female voice doing the announcements is meant to be reminiscent of the “what could be”—if you’re living in an authoritarian regime/planet. I can’t quite put my finger on the overall “why” as to what makes me really dislike it this aspect of the album. I feel like the message Shinedown is sending with Planet Zero could be accomplished without this gimmick. I feel like it distracts from the brilliance of the music. If it was maybe just an intro at the start of the album and something to end the album after the last song, that would have been better. I just didn’t appreciate this before each and every song.
Overall, if one were to give it a star rating on a scale of 1-5, I’d rate it a solid 3.5. I would have given it a 4 but for that robotic voice announcements before each song. Planet Zero gives you strong music, which is what you come to expect from Shinedown and worth the time to listen all the way through. I know I’ll be giving it a spin again soon.
Listen here now https://shinedown.lnk.to/planetzero
Planet Zero Track List
2. No Sleep Tonight
3. Planet Zero
5. Dysfunctional You
6. Dead Don't Die
7. Standardized Experiences
8. America Burning
9. Do Not Panic
10. A Symptom of Being Human
12. A More Utopian Future
13. Clueless and Dramatic
14. Sure Is Fun
16. This Is a Warning
17. The Saints of Violence and Innuendo
18. Army of the Underappreciated
20. What You Wanted