From the opening assault of 'Adrenaline' to the final, fluid notes of 'Through the Ghost,' Shinedown’s latest album, 'Amaryllis,' is a vigorous, empowering, never-stopping set of rock tracks that hits you fast and hard. That’s a good thing, since Shinedown’s legacy is built on such aggressive-yet-cathartic sounds, all held in place by singer Brent Smith’s thick, soul-soaked vocals and pensive lyrics.

Fans hoping for a dash of adventure from the Jacksonville-based rock band’s fourth studio album will find solace in explosive lead single 'Bully' and experimental-type songs such as 'Enemies' and 'For My Sake.' Listening to the heavy tracks, it’s obvious that this indeed is Shinedown, and chances are, followers of the rock quartet will find enough familiarity throughout 'Amaryllis' to not wonder where their favorite band went.

Ballad-wise, Shinedown hit a high point on 'Unity.' The track starts with faint piano keys before crescendoing into an anthemic bridge and chorus, in true Shinedown fashion. “I found a note with your name / And a picture of us / Even though it was framed / And covered in dust / It's the map in my mind that sends me on my way,” Smith sings with emotion in his cracking voice. It’s the kind of track that could cross over to pop radio, a la the song 'Second Chance' off the band’s last album, 'The Sound of Madness.'

Of course, there are active rock gems here, too, and Shinedown tenaciously hit every mark on tracks such as 'Adrenaline' and 'Bully.' Zigzagging guitar riffs (thanks to lead guitar maestro Zach Myers), packed down distortion, testosterone-fueled rhythms, memorable melodies -- it’s all there.

Brought together by Rob Cavallo’s (Green Day, Paramore) precise production, 'Amaryllis' solidifies Shinedown’s place in the majors, showing they can still write down-and-dirty rock songs amid their immensely popular mainstream fare. 'Amaryllis' is a leap forward and a major work in the Shinedown catalog.

4.5 Stars