GODSMACK

"1000hp" (Spinefarm; 2014)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Godsmack are back with a new disc and, I think, a new sound. They sound more mellow to me; the music still hits hard but the lyrics have lost their edge. The first track, "FML," kicks off the disc in true Godsmack form and it's what I'd expect but then I got a little lost when trying to pin down Sully's vocals on some of the other tracks. He used to have a voice I could identify with: his gut-busting way, his middle finger in your face. Now, he's singing about being talked to a certain way. I don't hear the grit in his vocals. He's singing from his heart instead of his soul. It's a change for sure and since I'm a fan of the band I'll get use to it. Wait! I've got it! They sound like Metalica to me. It's not radio friendly but it's not heavy like I want it to be.

Now that I've wagged my finger at them, let's get to the music. Godsmack have really expanded their sound. It's still got the heavy layer down--the Godsmack foundation, if you will--and then you've got some sounds beyond what's expected. It's not experimental, it's tested and it adds a new tone: some strings here, a little taste of an acoustic there. It makes for great music and when they strip down and just plug in and play you'll get the Godsmack that causes fits. No track jumps out but there are plenty of hooks to pull you out of the lazy river you might have been floating in.

Sully Erna snarls on the track, "Locked & Loaded." This song sounds like something off of "Awake." All in all, this disc is tight and after a few listens you'll like the sound and musical direction on "1000HP." The track, "Turning To Stone," has a cool voodoo sound to it and the Best Buy special edition of this disc has the track, "Life Is Good," where Sully throws all his profanity into it and makes you sing along with his brand of life.

Godsmack: Sully Erna - lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Tony Rombola - lead guitar, backing vocals; Robbie Merrill - bass guitar; Shannon Larkin - drums.

Follow the Godsmackers at this link - http://www.godsmack.com.

"IV" (Republic/Universal; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Those who have been clamoring for a Godsmack album that was "different" may have gotten their wish with the band's "IV." 

With a healthy helping of the bombastic songs that have made the band hugely popular, "IV" also throws in some genuinely different sounding tunes. And I'm not just talking about songs that slow down the pace a la radio ballads but rather songs that throw in some musical curves, both in musicianship and in songwriting. Surprisingly, in fact, the CD begins with one such track. "Livin' In Sin" is a huge sounding number, but it's not the kind of track you'd expect to start out a Godsmack CD. Instead, it's a simmering, then smoldering, track that sets the soulful tone for the CD right off the bat. The powerful anthem "Speak" follows, almost as though to tell the listener that the band hasn't softened.

There's a lot more variety from this point on than you might have come to expect from a Godsmack album. Although all of the tracks have the epic sound you've come to expect from the band, there's an openness here, both lyrically and vocally, that didn't really come through on earlier releases. 

Lyrically, "IV" may be Godsmack's most emotional album. The plaintive distress in "Mama" is palatable while "The Enemy" might make cheaper stereo speakers melt with its sheer, white hot rage.

"IV" isn't as easy a listen as, say, "Faceless." It's a little more brilliant and, therefore, a little less accessible. But it's another in a continuing line of great CDs from a band that's unafraid to do it the way they think it should be done and who do it successfully time after time.

Godsmack: Sully Erna - vocals and stuff; Robbie Merrill - 4 string thing; Tony Rombola- guitars; Shannon Larkin - drums and concussions.

For more information, check out http://www.godsmack.com

"The Other Side" (Republic/Universal; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Weren't we done with the whole unplugged thing about five years ago?

Okay, that being said, this acoustic collection from one of the best new bands of the last few years is a step above the norm. There are three new songs here and four acoustic versions of previously plugged-in songs. Perhaps not surprisingly, this talented band does quite well with all seven, giving the older songs new life while making the new songs sound as though they were always part of the Godsmack repertoire. 

As expected, the musicianship here is amazing and Sully Erna's vocals deeply haunting and affecting.

The most successful songs on the CD are "Running Blind" and "Re-Align" and the eerily beautiful "Asleep."

Godsmack has received a lot of ill-deserved heat over the years for "always sounding the same" and I'm sure that "The Other Side" is some form of answer to that criticism. As much as I enjoyed listening to "The Other Side," however, I doubt I'll listen to it nearly as often as I do the band's previous CDs. I'll take a full-on plugged in performance any day.

Godsmack: Sully - vocals and stuff; Robbie - bass; Tony - guitar and backing vocals; Shannon Larkin - drums and concussion.

For more information, check out http://www.godsmack.com

"Faceless" (Republic/Universal; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

When I reviewed their debut album back in 1998, I said that Godsmack was "a breath of fresh air in a music world where noise is confused with music and technology threatens to overwhelm everything human about art." Now, almost five years later, that phrase still stands and the band earns a new one as well: Godsmack proves that bands can grow, change and still consistently deliver the goods while not becoming a parody of themselves after a CD or two.

"Faceless" is one of my favorite releases of this admittedly young year. The CD continues the band's unique Black Sabbath / Metallica sound and delivers it with a huge wall of decibels and attitude. All twelve tracks herein are kick-ass rockers - the word "filler" never even ventures into the arena. Yeah, this release sounds a lot like the previous ones. It's supposed to. Listen to the first Motorhead album and then listen to the newest one. There's no question they're recordings by (basically) the same band. That's the way Godsmack is shaping up - a band you can trust to be consistent for their entire career. Some have complained of the lack of "something new" here. Me, I'm not holding my breath for Godsmack to cover a Beach Boys song, thank you very much. I'll take their hard-driving, skull-shaking sound any day.

Those complaining of the lack of something new should turn to track #7, "I Fucking Hate You" (or "I F******* Hate You" as censored by the record company). This is a different-sounding Godsmack tune - rawer, more stripped down and full of bitter emotion. It's still obviously Godsmack but, if it wasn't, what would be the fucking point? Also, check out Sully Erna's unique vocals on track #4, "Make Me Believe." An impressive and stylish performance.

"I Stand Alone" from the "Scorpion King" film is here as well, fans of that film and the video it spawned will be pleased to know.

"Faceless" marks the recording debut of the band's new drummer, Shannon Larkin, formerly of Amen. I'm no drummer myself, but Larkin seems to fit in seamlessly to me. The band continues to function well as a unit and that speaks well of Larkin's taking over the drummer's seat.

My only complaint about "Faceless" is that it took so long to get here and that it'll probably take too long for the next CD to be recorded and released. If that's the price of consistently entertaining rock'n'roll, however, it's a price I'm willing to pay.

Godsmack: Sully Erna - vocals and stuff; Robbie Merrill - 4 string thing and vocals; Tony Rombola - guitar and vocals; Shannon Larkin - drums and concussion.

For more information, check out http://www.godsmack.com.

"Awake" (Republic/Universal; 2000)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

If you have Godsmack's first, self-titled CD then you know that "Awake" will be another grinding guitar barrage. I read a report about how music can damage your brain if played too loud. The researchers put an egg in front of a speaker at a rock concert and at the end they took the egg, broke it open, and discovered that the yoke was solid! With blasting guitar and pounding drums that will destroy the best sound systems, Godsmack come with a vengeance and do the same thing to your brain that the researchers did to that egg.

"Awake" is pure power.

Sully Erna has a strong voice and he will power his way right through you. He belts out angst with pure command. “Awake” blasts off this release with pulsating guitar that is so downtuned it's below ground. Godsmack comes from the gates and mows down your senses. This title track also features an ear-shattering guitar solo. Most heavy metal bands today just have a ton of loud guitars and no solos but Godsmack delivers in all areas. The chorus for "Awake" doubles as the soundtrack for a US Navy commercial you might have seen. Hey, whatever gets the bills paid.

I read an interview with the band that said the song “Greed” was written about a guy who tried to stiff Godsmack out of some money. Well, Sully and company get the last word on this one. “Goin' Down” has a great bass intro and reverb guitar that makes it nasty to the bone. Sully screams his lungs out while the guitar chews away at your head (better check that brain yoke). There is always a dark sound emitting from the guitar and the solos seem to come from deep within the core of Tony Rombola.

“Vampires” is an instrumental that won a Grammy. I guess they do listen to heavy music every now and then. There's a little White Zombie feel to "Vampires" but it's still all Godsmack. This track stomps along like an angry bear. 

"Awake" is raw and aggressive and it delivers. 

The best smacks here are “Sick Of Life,” “Awake,” “Bad Magick,” and “Vampires.”

"Awake" is an enhanced CD so plug this into your PC for song lyrics along with interviews and pics. All quite cool.

Godsmack: Sully - vocals & stuff; Robbie 4-string thing & vocals; Tony - guitar & vocals; Tommy drums & vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.godsmack.com

"Awake" (Republic/Universal; 2000)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Godsmack has simply done it again with their second release, "Awake." "Awake" picks up right where their self-titled debut ended. All 11 cuts here rock with superior metal style that has become a Godsmack trademark. 

I am frankly amazed at the quality of this recording. On most CDs these days, some cuts are stronger that others. Not here. Each cut stands on its own and shines as a tribute to the talent of these four amazing rockers. 

Not only does Godsmack exhibit excellent musical ability, the production side of this CD (as well as of the first) is absolutely incredible. Godsmack rocks hard, strong and proud and have heartily earned a 4 chainsaw rating. I just got this CD and already I can't wait for their next release!

Check out Godsmack at their website at http://www.godsmack.com

Godsmack is: Sully - vocals & stuff; Robbie 4-string thing & vocals; Tony - guitar & vocals; Tommy drums & vocals.

godsmack.jpg (13071 bytes)"Godsmack" (Republic/Universal; 1998)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

With an ultra-heavy and acidly raw BLACK SABBATH meets METALLICA sound, "Godsmack" are a breath of fresh air in a music world where noise is confused with music and technology threatens to overwhelm everything human about art. Raging guitars, throbbing basses, sturdy rock drums and a vocalist you can actually understand, "Godsmack"  communicates emotion through powerful sound. 

Says band founder Sully Erna: "There a lot of emotional highs and lows in my songs, but they're genuine emotions." Songs like "Timebomb," "Immune" and - the album's best cut - "Voodoo" (a tribute to the film "Serpent and the Rainbow") are evidence enough of that, but the entire album is a strong and  involving statement. 

The only downside is that this self-titled Republic/MCA release is virtually identical to the band's apparently self-produced "All Wound Up" CD. Of the 12 tracks that appear on the new MCA release, eight appear on the previous CD. Of course, the MCA release has better sound quality.

Godsmack: Sully Erna, vocals; Tony Rombola, guitar; Robbie Merrill, bass; Tommy Stewart, drums.

For more information, check out http://www.godsmack.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 19 Feb 2017 18:25:01 -0500.