Review Summary: Alice in Chains has a new album out, we don't need these guys anymore.Godsmack
is built for the pit rat from the top to the bottom. They are uncomplicated, raw and jagged with all the fuzzy bumpy edges on display for everyone. I'm all for unrefined, straight-ahead facebreaking grooves (See Madball
) when done right, but I can't help but feel everything we hear on Oracle
has been done and been done better
, even by Godsmack
First and foremost, the music itself. While I appreciate the tightness of a well-pocketed groove, and Oracle
contains a fair share of well thought-out, sweeping grooves, that seems to be its one and only redeeming quality. The clock-swing of "What If?" shows a band in-pocket proper, base note to progressing pull-offs, but it predictably progresses from single-note to power chord. The higher-tempo "Good Day to Die" and "Shadow of a Soul" show a Load
and self-titled Metallica
era appreciation, even if the two songs are fairly interchangeable. The closer track, "Oracle" has a galloping riff that shows a deeper love of Sabbathian
values and definitely reveals that these guys listened to Master of Puppets
once or twice in their lives.
The swingy songs on Oracle
, the aptly titled "Devils Swing" and "War and Peace", showcase a different style of beat (thankfully), but never seem to come to complete fruition. Godsmack
have dabbled in the blues and jazz previously, but never fully entrenched themselves in it, and the results are as blunt and deliberate as any of their other experimentations: It's a thickheaded attempt at mixing it up, and the attempt falls short of succeeding. Seems to be the story of this entire album.
With all of that said, there isn't really anything extremely horrible about Oracle
on the music front, even if it is an extremely vanilla effort. I've heard countless regional and local bands produce albums that would stand toe-to-toe with Oracle
in the instrumental department. The one thing separating Godsmack
and these local bands is their frontman, Sully Erna, a tuffguy wiccan alcoholic (What?) with what could arguably be described as the absolute worst lyrical writing ability in the music industry.
You have a song called "Cryin' like a Bitch". They of course shortened the name, which was originally "Cryin' like a Bitch (With a Skinned Knee)". I mean, seriously? At least "Whiskey Hangover" wasn't included on the album, which stands tall as one of the worst songs released on modern rock radio in the last ten years, at least as far as lyrical content goes. At least schlock pioneers Limp Bizkit
pulled this off with a playful attitude and some sort of metaphor. Godsmack
charges the wall of deliberateness with all of the restraint of Forrest Gump on a 'roid rage.
For years, Godsmack
has weathered the banner of "Alice in Chains
Ripoff", due to guitarists affinity for Cantrellist wah, walking single note riffs, and dissonant open chords. And you know... I can't really come to the bands defense on this. You have a song called "Love Hate Sex Pain", which comes dangerously close on the grunge-metal pioneers ground in not one, but two ways. You incorporate multi-layered ahh's over ringing arpeggios. You enjoy minor triad progressions, something Cantrell did like Layne Staley did heroin.
may be another good entry for fans of the band, and those willing to overlook their encroachment on other bands, and not looking for more out of their music than a simple good time. For those who ask a bit more out of their music, look elsewhere.