Godsmack – Review


by Chaz Thorndike

Oh, suburban metal kids are gonna dig this! And I mean that as a slag. Basically, while getting called “Alice in Chains meets Helmet” sounds like it’d be a compliment, it really means, “remember the early ’90s sound? Well, this band is stuck there.” They even wrote a song, “Voodoo,” based on The Serpent and the Rainbow, which, um, came out a long time ago, fellas. And it’s not as if it breaks any musical ground or sheds any new light on the themes going on in that “classic” (as in, dated) movie.

It seems vocalist Sully Erna got the itch to write songs again after his last band, the Metallica-rip-off Strip Mind (who rocked Boston in the early ’90s when that music mattered, then had fleeting success with a WB release before they got dropped) broke up, and he enlisted the aid of some other metal guys who never got on with it (I mean, Lillian fuckin’ Axe? Someone dares admit that?) and they recorded this slab of heaviness which, during its good moments, sounds like Stompbox (who also got dropped/broke up – see the pattern yet?), and during its bad moments, sounds like a high school metal band’s attempt at early Alice in Chains. Honestly, they named their band after an Alice in Chains song from ’92, and a drug that’s now as passé as flannel and stringy hair. I’d recommend “smart drugs” for this band, but I doubt they’d have any effect on them. And the trendy claim of being a practicing Wiccan (a witch of the Celtic religion) doesn’t make the over-generalized crap they call lyrics take on new spiritual meaning, it simply means Sully’s a bona fide flake who subscribed to an organized religion flying under a different banner. Fuckin’ spiritualists, thinking that giving “metaphysical” bad poetry a fancy name’ll somehow legitimize its shallow nature. I’ve rarely met a mystical explorer in the “glamorous” world of “alternative” music (much less the aggressively-based “heavy alternative”) who was worth listening to whine like a Gen-X slacker with student loans to pay, but I keep tolerating their good intentions and notebook-scrawled “tribal” drawings they hope to someday get tattooed with.

Godsmack has shining moments as they steal a good Soundgarden riff here, a cool Alicey vocal harmony there, but all the spoken samples, fuzzily-distorted guitar and vocals, and Machine Head-y guitar counterpoint in the world isn’t going to save Godsmack from reeking of the past.
(2220 Colorado Ave Santa Monica, CA 90404)