Review Summary: What is old is new... again and again.
Godsmack is a band that doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. It's a smart move, since they lack the talent to do so, but what they do have the talent for is writing simple metal songs that can bury themselves in the listener's ear. More than any of the other metal bands trying to find their way on modern radio, Godsmack understands the necessary formula. They are heavy, aggressive, and still maintain enough of a sense of melody to appeal to the masses.
The Oracle finds Godsmack honing their formula to the extreme, leaving no fat hanging from the songs. What the album may lack in the way of relentless singles like "Voodoo" or "Awake" it more than makes up for by being the most consistent Godsmack album from front to back. The only weakness to be found is the needless six-minute, instrumental title track. This is not a band with the instrumental power to pull off such music, and their foray into the field proves a misstep, though not an embarrassment.
The rest of the album is a collection of short bursts of aggression, riffs designed to maximize the groove, all serving as a sounding board for singer Sully Erna's roar. He has improved markedly since the band's debut, his once hoarse croak now a formidable howl. Like the band itself, Erna has become a more melodic animal, his voice a combination of Danzig's swagger and Zak Stevens' cadence. Every song is built from the same collection of simple riffs, but they take on a different personality depending on what facet of his voice Erna uses, giving some needed variation to an album that could have otherwise become stale.
The best song is "Good Day To Die", building from the dissonant chromatic run that opens the number to a beast of a groove riff, the type Pantera used to live on. Erna stretches his vocal to hit notes in the chorus, and though they feel processed, the sound is modern enough to work.
What we get from The Oracle isn't anything we haven't heard before. This is Godsmack as we have always known them, and that is exactly what we want from them. They don't try to break new ground, they refine the ground they have already tread, trying to write the best songs they can while still maintaining their identity. If it works for AC/DC, why not for Godsmack?