So this week I went back through Godsmack's discography, which helped crystallize my thoughts about them and the new album.
My take on their career is that their first two albums, while solid, were very much the output of a band introducing themselves and finding their footing. I never really noticed how much Godsmack's early work borrows from early Korn in the guitar sound and the overall style. Sully's voice helps give it a bit of distinct tone, but it doesn't have a true identity.
Then The Scorpion King happened, and "I Stand Alone" laid the groundwork for their output to come. Faceless, which I feel is Godsmack's best album, is made up of songs that honestly could have all been on The Scorpion King soundtrack. I'm not sure if the term "desert rock" makes sense, but the aggressiveness, guitar tone, and confrontational attitude of Faceless brings that to mind for me; rock music made in a wasteland. This is when Godsmack was arguably at their commercial peak, and ironically, stopped being faceless.
The problem is that now having cemented this approach as the Godsmack sound, the trick was to keep it fresh and interesting, and IV did a reasonably fair job of this by adding blues rock elements like on "Shine Down" and including somber and stripped cuts like "Hollow" and "One Rainy Day".
Unfortunately, this attempt to stretch their sound stopped with The Oracle and 1000hp. With only a couple exceptions, the songs on both of these albums could have easily replaced any songs on Faceless and not really have missed a beat, because they're cut from the exact same cloth. But what once was fresh, exciting, surprising, and entertaining loses that spark the more it gets trotted out, and there's a feeling on both albums of tapping the well. I will argue there are still some solid cuts on both albums, but other songs absolutely sound phoned in; like Godsmack by numbers. I'm not sure if the band felt they had to do this to satisfy their fanbase or if it had anything to do with Sully's solo efforts and keeping things centered on a Godsmack sound, but it ultimately hurt them as songwriters and made them seem like one-trick ponies.
And that brings me to their new album, which sounds completely different to any Godsmack album that's come before. If earlier albums had a guitar sound that was grimy, this guitar sound has a sheen. The songs are more anthemic, more focused on melody than aggression. The hooks are solid and there seems to be more willingness to play around with expectations. It's not just the piano ballad (which is amazing), and I hate to keep bringing up Linkin Park in this conversation, but the songs do seem to borrow more from LP's brand of nu-metal as well as post-grunge rather than Godsmack's old sound. Because of this, in moments where Godsmack's old riffage raises its head, like on "Someday", it's like an old friend rather than a cantankerous fossil. And even then, "Someday" marries this to a chorus that is unlike what Godsmack would put out in the past. Frankly, they sound rejuvenated, so much so I don't even care that "Every Part Of Me" has a chorus melody that I'm certain I've heard before from other bands, just because from Godsmack, it sounds refreshing compared to receiving the same old Scorpion King soundtrack of the past. If this is how Godsmack will sound on future albums, then it's a joy to finally be able to look forward to a Godsmack album again.
Besides the title track, "Bulletproof", and the songs I mentioned above, I'd also like to throw out "Let It Out" as a phenomenal jam, and I would not be surprised if that was a future single.
I have some Breaking Benjamin demo CD from before they were big. I don't remember how I got it exactly. Probably came free with something I got at a CD store. I should've sold it to one of you guys for $100.
Yeah its way better than the standard version because of the bonus tracks and it was probably like 20 bucks at the time. Borders used to sell import cds and other places didnt.
I also have the Jap. import of My Own Prison which has Bound and Tied and What's This Life For (acoustic) as tracks 11 and 12.