Okay, I'm a first time reviewer here, so I'm gonna try to make this as close to perfect as possible, and save screw ups for my later reviews.
This review is about Godsmack: IV, the epitomy of ass-kickery in hard rock.
This is not only Godsmack's fourth full-length album, but the first in three whole years, with an EP entitled "The Other Side" between this and their last LP, "Faceless".
Sully Erna: Vocals & Stuff
Robbie Merrill: 4 String Thing
Tony Rombola: Guitars
Shannon Larkin: Drums & Concussions
Listening to this album beginning to end, the first thing anyone notices is that all of the songs have a slight spiritual side to them in the lyrics, the most apparent ones on the 4th track, "Shine Down". Here's the Track-By-Track review:
1. Livin' In Sin - 5 out of 5 stars
This track is pure, classic Godsmack from beginning to end. Starting in with fade-in phaser-distorted guitar, and muffled vocals from Sully, and coming in heavy with the first run through the chorus. Goes back slightly softer through the second verse and then comes back just as hard for the next chorus. The bridge is very melodic and is almost like it would belong on "The Other Side", if it weren't distorted. The solo is very creative and classic Tony. Then leads into another run through the chorus, to a brilliant, faster-paced ending, finally with Sully singing the last line of the chorus, "Where do I begin""
2. Speak - 4.5 out of 5 stars
The first radio-released single from the album. Beginning of the song brings the kick back into the bands hard rock roots, but the vocals in the verse remind me of a song from their "Awake" album called "Mistakes". Very good work from Robbie and Shannon in carrying this song to it's hard and heavy destination, and great rhythm guitar work from Sully. The chorus is rather lazily written: "Speak the truth, or make your peace some other way". I may have thought of a different way to fill in the vocal time. The solo is very creative, as usual, and leads directly into the last run-through of the chorus, with an outro that is heavier than the intro.
3. The Enemy - 5 out of 5 stars
Pure emotion. Similar background to their song "Greed". Guy screws Sully over and gets a song written about him. A little lazy in the writing, and the verses are almost like "Sad But True" by Metallica, but its a song driven by the pure emotion of the moment, so that forgives it, as well as the heaviness of the music. Tony drives the song all the way through, and even light up a little back-ended solo, before the bridge, at the end of which Sully growls out "Checkmate!" Another solo similar to the one that began the bridge, a light fade out, then right back to the chorus line. The outro hits heavy and kicks in the ass.
4. Shine Down - 5 out of 5 stars
I give this one 5 stars purely from the imagination that went into it. Nobody expects a Godsmack sound to include a harmonica, but this one does the whole way through. Vocals are pure and without digital effects in the verses, except for a little bit in between the verse and chorus. Like I mentioned before, the lyrics in this song sound very spiritual and personal, but don't disappoint at all. This song is a little different from the rest as it's almost like the vocals are driving the song and the band is following where the song goes. One may expect a ripping guitar solo from Tony in here, but instead there's a harmonica solo which absolutely kicks ass and brings a blues feel to the song. The guitar solo doesn't come until the end of the song, where it fades out.
5. Hollow - 4 out of 5 stars
This one is almost like it was left out from "The Other Side". It's an acoustic song with light drums and some keyboards. Features background vocals from a woman named Lisa Guyer. Has a light sounding high-pitched guitar in it that gets a little high in the decibels and annoying at a few points. This is another song that has a personal and almost spiritual sound to it. However, a very well put together song, and Lisa has the voice of an angel.
6. No Rest for the Wicked - 4.5 out of 5 stars
An awesome song with a kickass riff starting it off. Vocals are a little faded out and kind of hard to hear over the drums and guitar. Has a vocal pedal effect in guitar bridges and during most of the first half of the song, that is similar to the one heard in "I Stand Alone". Vocals don't really say anything other than basically telling himself to try to do something. The guitar bridges in the middle of the song, and fades from left speaker to right, just before the vocal bridge. A very inventive solo in this one, that almost sound like something Hendrix would do. Background vocals from Tony in the last chorus.
7. Bleeding Me - 4.5 out of 5 stars
This one has a classic rock feel to it. Starts off with a little bit of a solo and has very good rhythm guitar from Sully. The vocals in the chorus are a little like an alternative song, which shows a new side of Godsmack. The first chorus and the second verse run very close together and it's hard to tell if the verse is actually a verse. The second verse runs, and then the song slows into a melodic bridge where Sully repeats Breaking and Bleeding a lot, then the song gets heavier, with a short solo. There's another chorus right after, and then a solo and vocal fill-ins mix together, kind of sloppily in my opinion.
8. Voodoo Too - 4 out of 5 stars
Starts off with a faded clip of the first Voodoo, with the drums starting off. The drums are overly mixed in, and the guitar and vocals are hard to hear. The chorus is very much like the original "Voodoo", which is what I was expecting, but right after the chorus there's a tribal sounding clip that's almost like they sampled it from "The Lion King" movie. Back into the hard to hear verse, and the cool-sounding chorus. There's a little bit of a solo that actually sound like Tony was just experimenting with diferent riffs and solos, and mixed them together. During the middle of the solo, the drums and rhythm guitar go through their chorus run, the it all goes back to normal, to the end of the solo. They the all run through the chorus twice, and some vocal and guitar fill-ins to the end of the song.
9. Temptation - 3.5 out of 5 stars
Little known by anyone, is that the drums in this song were actually done by Sully, something that would have been picked up by anyone listening to Godsmack's radio take-over on Clear Channel radio stations. This is a very heavy song, but I even say, a little overly heavy and a vulgar display of power, so to speak. Vocals are kind of soft during verses, almost like he was recording vocals and drums at the same time, and concentrating more on drums. The chorus is nothing to really write about, and neither is the instrumental bridge, which leads again into the chorus. This song, in fact is mostly chorus, and not much else.
10. Mama - 5 out of 5 stars
This song shows a softer hard rock sound that not many people realized existed within Godsmack. Starts out with a cool lead and arpegiated rhythm. The premise of this song is Sully talking to his mama and asking her to save him. A very heart-wrenching song, with melodical and high note bass from Robbie. This song, no lie, made me call my mom and ask her the same question Sully asks at the end of the second verse: "Why did you let me grow up so god-damn fast"" There's a heavy bridge that is almost like he's saying he's burying himself in depression and asking mama for help. The solo in this song is very brilliant and inventive as usual. It leads into another little bit of a bridge, with replaces the chorus for the end of the song, with yet another solo with a fade-out of all the parts.
11. One Rainy Day - 5 out of 5 stars
This song was kind of tough to give a 5 rating until I listened to it in an intoxicated state. The song is almost acid-rock in that it sounds very trippy and stoner-like. (Not that I know anything about that....) Honestly, I had to be intoxicated to understand what's going on in the song. It's just another song that's almost like "The Other Side", except for the distortion. The vocals don't really fit into the music in some parts of the song, but say a lot. The solo is really experimental and another one of the Hendrix-like type of leads that appear a few times on this album. There's a long pause with sounds of rain drops falling and it leads into the hidden tracks, which I will not be reviewing due to the fact that I've only heard one of them, and only heard it once.
Altogether this album gets a 5 star rating from me, and not only because I'm a die-hard Godsmack fan, but because the producer of this album (just Sully in this one) put his time and effort into everything, with few mistakes. Recommended tracks on this album are Speak, Shine Down, and Mama.
And that's it. There's my review. Comments are welcome. Peace, I'm out of here.