Since their formation in 2001, Shinedown has accumulated a loyal fan base that has grown with each subsequent release. This, in part, can be attributed to their ability to write, produce, and play solid tunes that are both enjoyable and thought-provoking. This is also coupled with the fact that the band has incredible charisma and a stage presence that is electrifying from start to finish. Planet Zero is the group’s seventh studio album and follow-up to 2018’s Attention Attention, and what a follow-up it is! Planet Zero, simply put, is a banger of a record and demonstrates that Shinedown are still well in their prime!

Planet Zero is very much a concept album that contemplates the very nature of mankind and how we are approaching a bleak future. Despite this morbid outlook, the record does include moments of levity with a more optimistic view of the better aspects of human nature. Opening with “2184,” a synth-heavy instrumental, that is both uplifting but also a little ominous in nature, sets the tone of the album just before the fast-paced drum beat of “No Sleep Tonight” kicks in. The track is energetic, with a catchy chorus and finger-licking guitar riffs that are just chefs kiss good! The record’s title track, “Planet Zero,” is pure Shinedown. It’s big, bold and an already proven crowd pleaser. Its opening drum beat leads build the tension with Brent Smith’s vocals bouncing alongside the beat in near-perfect unison. Once again, the chorus is perfect for a crowd sing-along and its melody will have legions of fans fist pumping as one unit.

Following another interlude of electronic synth, Shinedown moves to a more mellow tone with “Dysfunctional You.” The track is slow-paced and is a celebration of self-love and acceptance of who you are; “the wonderful dysfunctional you,” as Smith puts it. It is one of the record’s more uplifting, positive songs. This, however, is short-lived as “Dead Don’t Die” begins. The tempo picks back up to a heavier note and the lyrics focus on standing tall in the face of authoritarianism. The sentiment is echoed further in “America Burning.” The track has a funky opening with a synth-infused guitar riff that leads into a fist-bumping call to arms. As always, Smith’s charm as a frontman is at the forefront leading Shinedown and their followers forward. As with so many songs on the album, guitarist Zach Myers is right behind Smith strumming out captivating riffs.

Shinedown in 2022 by Jimmy Fontaine

Although this record contains twenty exceptional tunes (that all deserve recognition in their own right), the stand-out of Planet Zero is the emotional rollercoaster that is “A Symptom of Being Human,” a song that will hit you hard in the feels and doesn’t concede until the final note. Starting with an acoustic riff with a slightly melancholy tone, the track is joined by Smith with equally woeful lyrics alongside a mournful orchestral melody. Despite the song’s tone, there is a hint of positivity when Smith concedes that any struggles we have are “just a symptom of being human.”

As previously noted, there is a very generous twenty tracks (although seven consist of the synthetic interludes, one of which sounds suspiciously like the intro to Stranger Things), so it would become a novelistic read should I attempt to cover everything. I will just note that Planet Zero is a home run for Shinedown and an incredible addition to their already exceptional album catalogue. What makes this record particularly memorable is their ability to focus on the hardships in life and say: “hey, it’s tough, but we got you. You’re not alone.” At least, this was my take from it! Give it a spin yourself and see if you agree, and if not, I’m sure you’ll concur that, musically, Planet Zero kicks ass!

Planet Zero Track Listing:

1. 2184
2. No Sleep Tonight
3. Planet Zero
4. Welcome
5. Dysfunctional You
6. Dead Don’t Die
7. Standardized Expectations
8. America Burning
9. Do Not Panic
10. A Symptom of Being Human
11. Hope
12. A More Utopian Future
13. Clueless and Dramatic
14. Sure is Fun
15. Daylight
16. This is a Warning
17. The Saints of Violence and Innuendo
18. Army of the Underappreciated
19. Delete
20. What you Wanted

Run Time: 48:57
Release Date: July 1, 2022
Record Label: Atlantic Records