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Shinedown: Survival Of The Fittest

Both on stage and off, Shinedown are in the form of their life. Yet it could have been so different if singer Brent Smith hadn’t swapped booze, drugs and sugar for a DVD called Insanity.

If the Marine Corps made rock stars, they’d be like Brent Smith. Hair shorn at the sides, heavily inked biceps that are the size of beer kegs, black ‘Anti-Hero’ trucker cap, permanently attached Ray-Bans, he’s the definitive bro-rock poster boy.

“I did an hour and ten minutes in the gym this morning,” the Shinedown frontman says proudly, as he strides across a photo studio in central London. “I have to keep myself on a certain level, I have to stay focused, and everyone helps me do that.”

This drill-hall attitude is mirrored in his band’s own approach. Since they formed in the early noughties, Shinedown have chased success relentlessly. The US four-piece’s bullish-but-glossy hard rock and impassioned, specifically American “You can take over the world” mindset has helped earn them two Top Ten albums in the US (2008’s The Sound Of Madness and 2012’s Amaryllis). While there’s a vulnerability beneath the surface of their arena-sized anthems, you have to dig deep for it.

Their new album, Threat To Survival, doesn’t ease up on the aggro. While it’s undeniably slick and melodic, it’s the work of a band who spent 21 solid months on the road before they entered the studio to make it. Unsurprisingly, the workload took its toll on the band – exhaustion set in, people missed their families, Smith developed painful nodules on his vocal chords. Where their previous record brimmed with positivity – ‘What part of living says you gotta die?’ sang Smith on 2012 single AdrenalineThreat To Survival is more brutal, musically and lyrically.

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