AFTER 20 YEARS IN ROCK, CAN GODSMACK STILL BRING IT?
Doing something for twenty years straight, is cause for celebrating in our culture. 20th wedding anniversaries are symbolized with china or platinum (and rightly so – who stays married for longer than it takes to realize the person you thought you knew is a complete stranger – and in doing so, you better get some fancy china or a piece of platinum jewelry) or twenty years at the same company might you get a party or nice sit down dinner (probably just an internal email blast and if you work for a really good company you may get a metal pin commemorating your service). Twenty years in the same field and especially in this day and age is unique because let’s be honest – not many people can do anything for a consecutive twenty years except shit, piss, and breathe.
For GODSMACK, 1998 was the year it all began: the jumping off point, the starting line, chapter 1, the beginning, the creation of GODSMACK into becoming one of the world’s most renowned rock bands. Just look at these impressive stats noted from the press release about When Legends Rise: “Through an uncompromising attitude and uncanny knack for a hummable hook, they quietly became one of modern rock’s most reliable and resonant institutions. Against all odds, the boys have broken one ceiling after another. They’ve landed seven number one singles on both the US Billboard/Mainstream & Active Rock charts. Most notably, they’ve earned 21 Top 10 hits at US Active Rock – the most of any act since February 1999. Joining a prestigious club that includes Van Halen, U2, Metallica, Dave Matthews Band and Linkin Park, they debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 three consecutive times. Not to mention, they’ve sold over 20 million albums worldwide, garnered four GRAMMY® nods, and won “Rock Artist of the Year” at the Billboard Music Awards.”
Shut. Up. Seriously, this is quite a list of accomplishments. So when I heard that GODSMACK was going in to record an album that aligns with their twenty year milestone, I couldn’t wait to hear it and see if I could definitely answer the question, “Can GODSMACK still bring it after 20 years?”.
Well, it’s here – the day for me to answer that question and as luck has it, share the answer with you Lovelies here at The Rockpit! I’m going track by track and will be brief so hold onto your hats – here we go!!
WHEN LEGENDS RISE – if this is what the remainder of the record is going to be like, then fuck yes – I’m down with this! Tony brings the riffs that create an explosive gain for Shannon’s drums. Sully takes his never-changing vocals right back to 1998 and I love the little perks of bass from Robbie that stick out here and there luring me to follow that thump-thump.
BULLETPROOF – nice push in the chorus for Sully especially at the change! Fantastic display of guitars and I dig the hell out of the outro. Check out the Director’s Cut Video for this song – which is so much fun to watch right here:
UNFORGETTABLE – the grit of this track peeks out here and there, the distortion on the vocal lends to what brought GODSMACK into the light, so to speak. The cadence and Sully’s impeccable ability to use intonation as a weapon, makes this truly unforgettable – not to mention the harmonies are back breakingly good!! I can’t wait to see this one live, make a mental note. Nice dig Tony and Shannon at the end of the song!
EVERY PART OF ME – kickass echoing on the guitar parts to begin. Let me say, that Sully’s inflections on this song are sexy AF. Shannon breaks it off with some fills on the toms that I do not understand how he makes his arms (and legs for that matter – but not on the toms…duh!) move that fast. This song stirs EVERY PART OF ME!!
TAKE IT TO THE EDGE – here’s a reminder of what cause the GODSMACK revolution to rise. I want to punch a bag of hot dog buns at the middle chorus and Sully’s freakin’ vocals almost match the pounce that comes from the drums. Yaus!!
UNDER YOUR SCARS – everybody couple skate…the proverbial rock ballad returns, but what makes this one so godam good is that while ballad it may sound like, it’s really speaks to me as a call for understanding – which is really what love is, right? Not to mention the whine of Tony’s solo jammed in between this incredible build percussion-wise. The addition of the strings and piano/keyboards is stellar and perfectly placed.
SOMEDAY – I appreciate the beginning of this track. It’s strong and Sully’s voice stands up to the challenge to bring in the rest of the band behind him. Which happens at the chorus and I love the bounce to this song. I also like the lows in Shannon’s drums at the bridge; it’s preparing you to rise up with your fists in the air – and be free from whatever you might be imprisoning yourself with.
JUST ONE TIME – Tony and Robbie stand out on this track for me at the beginning – and the jig that Shannon is doing through the verse is catchy AF. Where does that power come from in Sully’s voice? I absolutely am gaga over the matched lyric with the tone of his voice! Shut. The. Fuck. Up! Oh and that breakdown slays – just sayin’.
SAY MY NAME – Nice work on the flow on this track – gotta love the cutime bursts here and there. Robbie plunks out and lays down some really big tones on this track. The riffs are sticky AF from Tony and I love the high toned parts. Break it down Sully at the “down down down” part and again Shannon’s footing here is almost unbelievable. So good!
LET IT OUT – I want to see this one live as well – I can picture it: hearing this echoing off a huge outdoor stage, with sun beating down on my face as I prepare to rock the fuck out at the chorus!! Come ON! (And yep, this is a massive hint for it to make the setlist for Rocklahoma or the Dallas show…ehum.) I totally wanna scream the chorus for all to hear at a show!!
EYE OF THE STORM – ahhh Tony…you never fail to disappoint with those subtle riffs that bring the little tinges of goosebumps – the solo-work makes me wanna wrestle!! This chorus is full and beautifully done. I dig the layered vocals and whispers that culminate to the fade-out to thunder at the end…
So, there you have it, as I exhale…I swear I think I held my breath through most of that record! I’m totally impressed with the whole feel of When Legends Rise. While there is a collaborative effort from folks including John Feldmann, Erik Ron and long-time friend and Sevendust guitarist Clint Lowery, it is still GODSMACK at the core.
Fans will appreciate the individuality poised in the songs and the coming together to make us hold our breath, sing along loud AF, and pick out the points we can all relate and connect to within the lyrics on the tracks. Just as the record echoes the GODSMACK of the past, there is an element that will appeal to those rock fans that were in diapers when the band broke the first time. Which is kinda strange that the fans that got on the GODSMACK train at the beginning are probably closer to wearing them again… I am looking forward to the festival appearances this summer along with the tour to cycle this record, folding it out bit by bit for the world to again be smitten by what is GODSMACK!
Oh – ya, the answer to the question “Can GODSMACK bring it after 20 years?” The answer is a resounding “Hellz YES”!! So go check it out for yourself!
Til Next Time – MRML – Cherri
(Originally published in AntiHeroMagazine.com 2018)