SONG OF THE DAY: Shinedown – Planet Zero

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I have a love/hate relationship with American multi-platinum rock band SHINEDOWN in the sense that I really enjoy their first couple of records but they’ve kind of lost me with “Threat to Survival” (2015) and “Attention Attention” (2018). So, when the band dropped the lead single and title track for their seventh studio effort, “Planet Zero,” I didn’t know what to expect from it.

To my surprise and immense delight, the track signals not just a major return to form with (what I consider to be) strong “The Sound of Madness” (2008) vibes but also a darker sound altogether. A wickedly bouncy groove underpins Brent Smith’s commanding vocal attack while the bass and drums keep a tight and steady rhythm. In other words, “this track has zero business being this groovy,” as someone so poignantly phrased it in the YouTube comment section. Even if the song structure in itself may be a bit predictable – aggressive verses, melodic chorus, and a powerful bridge – that doesn’t make “Planet Zero” any less enjoyable or impactful.

Sound-wise, as per usual, Brent Smith impresses listeners with his gritty vocals, which hail back to such tracks as “Sound of Madness” or “Devour,” while the melodic delivery in the chorus has a bit of an “Amaryllis” (2012) touch. Guitarist Zach Myers shows off his skills by delivering a monster riff that is arguably heavier and chunkier than most anything they released last decade. Barry Kerch behind his drumkit is pounding away like there’s no tomorrow, giving a strong foundation to the track and adding weight and rhythm to the fold. The bass is as busy as it has always been, with Eric Bass delivering thunderous lines that give thickness and density to everything, thus making “Planet Zero” the robust and powerful rock anthem that it is.

As a lyricist, Smith has never shied away from writing about both personal, as well as social issues (remember “Bully”?) with honesty and candor. As such, the song is like a call to arms, laced with topics that are as controversial as they are real. One may even actually argue that “Planet Zero” (both the single and the album) could be seen as the lyrical successor to “Not Mad Enough,” from SHINEDOWN’s acoustic side project Smith & Myers. The line in the chorus “They’re murdering our heroes / Out here on Planet Zero” has really got me thinking about how much humanity actually glorifies violence even beyond the concept of profit within chaos. Other lyrics that got my attention include:

“Better pray for the soul of the citizen
Better pray that you’re not erased
On your knees, for the life, you’re living
On your knees or you’ll be replaced”

All-in-all, “Planet Zero” is one hell of a lead single and if the rest of the album follows suit, it is going to be a real banger. From what I’ve seen on YouTube, the live version doesn’t lose much of the intensity that the studio version has; on the contrary, with the audience’s involvement it sounds even more massive and catchy. Needless to say, I am pretty excited for the album to be released in late April (via Atlantic Records) and I am looking forward to more singles in the meantime. 

Written by Andrea Crow