Review Summary: A different side of Sully Erna that takes you on a musical journey of oriental landscapes.
It's always interesting to hear what a vocalist from a well-known band can achieve outside of his comfort zone. Up to this point, Godsmack have released record after record after record, each full of potential. While their signature sound consists mainly of tribal music mixed with grunge-influenced sounds and Metallica-styled riffs, Godsmack have never truly emphasized on taking their sound anywhere special. If anything, their albums were reaching high, but somehow got pushed down a cliff by the influence of the mainstream (obvious exception: "Faceless"). "The Oracle" was a clear indication that the band's focus was on writing simple songs, reminiscent of their previous material. A safe process indeed, which Godsmack have done well throughout their career. However, it was time for a change.
Sully Erna's debut takes the tribal elements from Godsmack, and successfully builds an entire album around that approach in the form of a musical journey. If you're longing to hear complex riffs or heavy drums, stop here. Avalon
is exactly the opposite, and at the same time the synonym of a typical Godsmack album. If that doesn't make sense to you, listen to "Sinner's Prayer", and you will be bound to notice elements from "Voodoo" and "Serenity", while breathing a fresh air of experimentation with different oriental sounds. That vibe is cleverly maintained throughout the album, with acoustic guitars and tribal drumming techniques playing dominant roles. "7 Years" seems to be the only song constructed slightly differently, with a few guitar solos and interesting riffs accompanying guest vocalist, Lisa Guyer. Guyer also shares her mesmerizing voice with the audience in the almost stripped "My Light", a definite highlight of "Avalon".
In terms of instrumentation, "Avalon" displays a vast diversity of acoustic guitars, pianos, acoustic beats, distorted guitars, banjos, pipes, strings, synths and many other. While the concept of maintaining an oriental vibe is highly noticeable, songs like "Until Then..." demonstrate that Sully Erna is not afraid of showing slightly different sides of himself every now and then. Accompanying the complex instrumentations are the brilliant lyrics, which focus on much more than just Sully Erna's feelings, as "Eyes of a Child" highlights the fragility of life and death situations ["Hear the children cry, when one by one they die, ph, Jesus Christ can you help them?"].
The charm of this album is definitely the easy listening it offers. It is not a record you need to constantly chew on until you feel the taste, it just grabs you instantly. If you're looking for head banging riffs and complex solos, you will undoubtedly be disappointed. But if you're longing to hear an artist create something unexpected, that's intense, easy on the ears, and a fun listen, go get "Avalon". It is high time Sully Erna gets respect and credit for his amazing work.