Review Summary: Murder your heroes.
I’ll be honest: between the latest Disturbed album, the latest Papa Roach album, the latest Five Finger Death Punch album, and now this travesty, teenage me would be throwing a fit if they were in my place today.
Lighting Up The Sky
manages to fall into the same pratfalls as the aforementioned contemporaries: it is, above all, unbearably lazy. Yes, new Turning Point USA/CPAC walkout-tune “Red, White, & Blue” is tactlessly cringy in every possible way. Yes, the majority of the lyrics on this fluctuate between tired, faux angst and Erna’s sudden,newfound focus on sexual conquest (at least we know the Viagra’s paying off).
Truthfully though, all of that isn’t the worst of it. After all, Shinedown's Planet Zero
certainly leaned more right than left and still managed to be worlds better than this album. No no, the worst of it is the band's unabashed adoration for their own stagnation. This band has not only stagnated, but they are proud to wallow in that stagnation. The main riff to “Surrender” is a nearly identical re-tread to “Take It To The Edge”, the majority of the guitar solos sound ripped from past Godsmack releases, and the band rarely manages to deviate from their bone-headed, drop-tuned, hyper-masculine instrument bashing. At one point, one could credibly argue that this approach had some appeal. Not every band has to be Dream Theater and Godsmack themselves are not without their solid tunes, and sometimes, a lug-headed rock tune truly hits the spot.
However, that argument lost its lustre about a decade ago, a point driven further home with the tediously milquetoast, “experimental” project When Legends Rise
. It became clear at that point that this band, even when they ever so moderately deviate from their tried and true formula, is ultimately unwilling to truly try something new. Indeed, even this LP more interesting moments (ballad “Truth” is one of the most authentic pieces on this travesty and “Best of Times” is a relatively dynamic rocker that manages to sport an enjoyable (and surprisingly audible!) bass line) ultimately fall short, by Godsmack's own standards no less. The tunes are not only flawed themselves, but are too little too late on a record that lost its thunder less than five minutes in.
Ultimately, I consider myself a fan of all heavy music, be that Breaking Benjamin or Brand of Sacrifice, Static-X or Ghost, Mushroomhead or Machinehead. Heavy music really does heal my soul, so I try my hardest to keep an open heart to all of it, whether it’s the loudest and most technical or the mellowest and most simplistic. However, Lighting Up The Sky’s
ultimate fault does not lie in its commercial accessibility; it lies in its stubborn refusal to try anything new and, frankly, its eagerness to slightly regress. Sully said it best: these guys are, at least creatively, “getting old”, and it shows far too clearly.