By the turn of the millenium, Godsmack had dropped their self-titled debut, and, after many attempts, finally managed to breakthrough to the mainstream. With catchy hooks and choruses, with some enjoyable guitar solos, it's safe to say that one of Godsmack's influences would be the legendary grunge band, Alice In Chains. Smash hit Keep Away exemplifies this with the solo. Now in 2000, Godsmack released their sophomore effort, Awake, aimed for continued success from the self-titled breakthrough debut. Awake would indeed duplicate the success of the debut, maybe even add a little more in terms of popularity, but when you examine the album for what it is, Awake actually falls short, and ends with a disappointment rather than enlightenment.
Sick of Life begins with a creepy bass intro from Robbie, as Tony would give another enjoyable guitar solo. At first glance, this would seem like Godsmack was continuing from where they left off on the self-titled debut. But does it? As a matter of fact, it doesn't. Sully Erna's lyrics bring this song down and overshadow the fact that Tony did give an enjoyable solo and the fact that Robbie opened the song with a bass solo. While those two facts are interesting alone, it's Sully's lyric choice that wrecks the song, notably in the chorus:
"Sick of my life/I'm tired of everything in my life/I never wanted to be sick of my life/I'm tired of everything in my life
The rest of the lyrics are nothing special. In conclusion, Sick of Life equals out to be good instrumentation, bad lyrics. But this all changes though when Awake clocks in. Without a doubt, Awake is the best song on this album, with better written lyrics than that of Sick of Life. Awake has the effects that Keep Away had, but it has even more, when it comes to the middle of the solo and the bridge. Simply, Awake is far superior compared to Keep Away. Greed continues the momentum that Awake gave to the album after Sick of Life. Greed sounds like the second version of Keep Away, especially when Sully screams "Hey little bitch! Be glad you finally walked away!
" Greed, again, still gives an enjoyable solo.
But here's where the album falls short. After Greed, the album loses its momentum. Bad Magick exemplifies this. While it does give some great drumming from Tommy Stewart, Sully once again wrecks the song, but this time it’s the lyrical structure that’s to blame. Bad Magick is structured with only two lines a verse, a chorus, and one line repeating over and over again, this being where Sully sings and screams, “Getting back, back on track, get off of my back
” Goin’ Down and Mistakes are nothing special, as they are just downright dull. Nothing wrong with them, but the band does nothing to catch the listener’s attention. Goin’ Down begins with another bass intro, catching minimal attention, but fails because nothing stands out in that song. Mistakes does nothing much to catch the listener’s attention as well, now as it just plain drags on and on and on.
Despite this, Godsmack turns the tables with Trippin’. While the bass intro isn’t that surprising, it’s Sully’s vocals that definitely shine in this number. I agree with the previous reviewer who stated that Sully’s vocals were definitely to be looked at in Trippin’, starting with a low tone before belting out a vocal range unheard of, recapturing the spotlight, putting all eyes on the band with this song. Forgive Me is exactly the same way in terms of Sully’s vocals starting low, then just straight up belting a strong vocal range, bringing back the album’s momentum. Instrumental Vampires is nothing interesting, never escaping its main riff. This could have been a song that Tony Rambola could have taken advantage of with a five minute solo, but sadly, this does not happen, and what we have is nothing but excerpts from a documentary on vampires over repeated riffs.
Then we have the closer duo Journey-Spiral. The Journey starts with a 50 second piano intro, leading the tribal Spiral. This song speaks of reincarnation, and Sully manages to do what he usually aspires to do, that being to take something tribal like and find a way to turn it into a rock song. Sully’s vocals manage to sell this well, using a low and eerie voice to this, leading to a spine chilling vocal when he says “I…I will…fly away again…” Then the Spiral ends with a piano outro, bringing an end to Awake.
Most people might say this is bad, maybe because of the fact that after Greed, Awake loses its momentum, or they just believe that Awake is the only track worth listening to. However, I believe that while there are indeed filler tracks that are better left out of Awake, Godsmack does manage to regain their posture, and avoid doing a complete face plant into the ground in the process. The musicianship in Awake is great, but you throw that in with the poor lyrics in Sick of Life, and the terrible lyric structure in Bad Magick, along with the lack of effort that the band put into the album in terms of Goin Down’, Mistakes, and Vampires, you have an album that looks good at first, but is not that great after strenuous inspection. While it may be boring, what Godsmack does manage to do in Awake is mature as musicians, with exception to Sully Erna.
After Awake, drummer Tommy Stewart would stay around to provide the drumming in I Stand Alone, but afterwards, Shannon Larkin would take his place, and record Faceless with the band. Faceless would end up being the album that got Godsmack known. Straight Out Of Line would be nominated for a Grammy, I Stand Alone would be featured in the Scorpion King, and both Straight Out Of Line and I Stand Alone would be featured on Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. Many of the songs in Faceless would follow the Awake method, reusing and recycling riffs, as Sully would then deliver lyrics that would like lyrics that Korn frontman Jonathan Davis would have written(just take a listen to I ***ing Hate You to see what I mean), and still talk about messed up stuff, a troubled person, and the afterlife. It wouldn’t be until IV when Godsmack would change their sound, but IV would fail to impress, with the lyric structure completely wrecking a song: not just one, but all of them. However, IV would display a clean voice from Sully Erna, as he would grow as a vocalist in the process.
Sick Of Life- 2.75/5
Bad Magick- 1.25/5
Goin’ Down- 2.65/5
Forgive Me- 3.5/5
Sully Erna- Lead Vocals, Producer
Robbie Merrill- Bass, Backing Vocals
Tony Rambola- Guitars, Backing Vocals
Tommy Stewart- Drums, Backing Vocals