For a person who enjoyed the heck out of The Sound Of Madness, I knew it would be hard for Shinedown to follow it up. With so many powerful hard tracks and poignant power ballads that thrust them to the top of the rock charts on their 2008 release, I was a bit dumbfounded at the first single off Amaryllis, the band’s first record in four years. “Bully” is weaker than every song on the band’s last record, all three bonus tracks, and even their 2010 single “Diamond Eyes.” Does that mean this song sucks? Absolutely not.
There are elements in this song that make it shine, while there are other weak areas that were rarely, if ever, found on their last record. Instrumentally, “Bully” is fantastic. The guitars line up and chime in at perfect times, especially in the chorus. The intro sounds reminiscent of Collective Soul’s “Shine,” but it still features a gritty guitar riff that pops up again after the chorus. The chorus is nice and slick, following a more mellow intro.
While instrumentally near perfection, it’s the lyrics that got me. I’m not going to say that these guys have always been the greatest songwriters, but I expected so much more. The lyrics, which relate personally to guitarist Zach Myers (who tears the song apart with a crunchy solo near the end of the track), are more simplistic but also very outspoken. Though they lack the dripping emotion that smothered all of the songs, heavy and soft, on The Sound of Madness, they aren’t too feeble to take away from the powerhouse instrumentals.
Though I wasn’t a huge fan on first listen, I realize that “Bully” shows little signs of progression from Shinedown’s previous offering. Shinedown is one of the best when it comes to churning out solid hard rock anthems, and even if I was disappointed at first with this new song, it definitely grew on me. Let’s just hope the rest of the songs on the band’s new record rock just as hard, if not harder than “Bully,” especially considering that it’s been such a long wait. Now we just have to let the anticipation for Amaryllis (which comes out on March 27) settle in.