For Fans Of
The first time I heard Godsmack was what felt like aeons ago when I bought a pre-owned copy of Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within on PS2 from my nearest EB Games. When I got home, I put the game in and the menu screen loaded up and soon enough, that buzzy, chugging intro riff of “I Stand Alone‘ kicked in as the gruff sing-scream vocals of frontman Sully Erna peaked out of my shitty TV’s stereo. And look, as far as a first introduction to early 2000’s hard rock/alt-metal goes, I could’ve done much worse.
Anywho, Godsmack returns this April with their first new album in four years since 2014’s ‘1000HP’ – ‘When Legends Rise’. This new 10-track LP sets itself up as this defiant, phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes hard rock album; one that’s meant to inspire and motivate the listener, and one that’s just trying to be lots of fun to listen to. Yet while I didn’t once feel motivated or inspired during the spins that I gave to Godsmack’s seventh record, I did admittedly have some fun with it. But when you break it all right down, this is a generic but inoffensive, just-decent-enough rock record; one that’s predicated on style more than any real substance.
The record’s first four songs – ‘When Legends Rise’, ‘Bulletproof’, ‘Unforgettable’ and ‘Every Part Of Me’ – are just basically elevator rock music; stopgaps for a smaller part of your overall day that don’t require any deeper listening efforts on your part. You’re exposed to them, they climb through one ear, jump right out the other, you move on and you don’t give these songs any more thought. Not because they’re egregious, but because they’re not all that great either; they’re okay and nothing else. Many will appreciate the band’s accessible simplicity with these 10 songs, but just as many people will likely crave something deeper and more engaging from their rock music in 2018. Because while ‘When Legends Rise‘ is definitely more melodic and more uplifting than their old nu-metal/alt-metal records, it’s still just Godsmack’s usual output of gargantuan riffs, groovy and lurching 4/4 drums, big production, giant sing-alongs, and hooky choruses. Ergo, this new LP stops and ends at only being the average stadium-sized rock sound that most have come to expect from Godsmack long before this point in time.
While there’s plenty of big drum patterns and heavy riffs to be put forward here, if you’re searching for their heavier, more angst-fueled alt-metal and nu-metal sounds of 2000’s self-titled album or 2003’s famed ‘Faceless’ LP, than you’ll be left starved on this new effort. And that’s actually to a detriment, for while now quite dated, at least their older records had some form of legitimate rage and some kind of passion for you to latch onto. Here, it’s just middle-of-the-road rock music 101 you could get from plenty of other bands these days (new Sevendust, for instance) with the added “bonus” of it all just feeling bland and even rather tired. And at the very real risk of me coming off as some ageist piece-of-shit, Godsmack really are showing their collective age on this new record.
One low point for the record come in album closer ‘Eye Of The Storm’. While it’s a solid chug fest and is hair-raising riff city, for the most part, it’s an utter piss-weak send-off for ‘When Legends Rise’ as the song pathetically fades out and rumbling storm weather samples close things out during a real lull and not a high-point in the slightest. Elsewhere, you’ve got the slower, string-driven mid-album ballad of ‘Under Your Scars’. Coming complete with soft crooning vocals and a cheesy guitar solo, it aims for something more emotional than what most of the remaining release has to offer, but it just ends up feeling so cliche and so played-out. It seems to carry the mentality that because Godsmack is a pure-blooded rock n’ roll band, that means they needed to have a track like this when in actuality, they probably didn’t. And look, honestly, I don’t even think this is the sole fault of Godsmack; merely a result of how fucking shoehorned-in and endemic these kinds of ballads are for rock bands of this ilk.
However, even I have to admit that there were a couple solid moments to be had on ‘When Legends Rise’. For instance, ‘Just One Time’ has a much faster, crunchier quality to it and with the self-destructive lyrics that are delivered in a rather honest manner, and you’ve got a real winner for an album that’s sorely lacking one. Another good example is ‘Let It Out’, which has the band’s next biggest single written all over it but beyond my own cynicism of radio syndication and the marketing of singles in a playlist-curated world, it’s a damn-fine hook-riddled rock tune that can hang with the best of them. And, well… that’s it.
Much like the title of the staple Four Year Strong song ‘Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die’, legends don’t ever truly die but they can definitely fall from grace. With their seventh album, Godsmack isn’t existing at any kind of legendary status. Much like how rock music isn’t the same today as it was almost two decades back in their heyday, Godsmack themselves also aren’t on the same high level they used to exist at either – in more ways than one. While not for a lack of trying, this band’s drop-off is painfully evident on the underwhelming ‘When Legends Rise’. Because we all know what people say about the bigger something is…
- When Legends Rise
- Every Part Of Me
- Under The Scars
- Just One Time
- Say My Name
- Let It Out
- Eye Of The Storm
‘When Legends Rise’ is out Friday, April 27th via Spinefarm.