Republic / Universal Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/26/2000
I'm going to do something which isn't easy for me: I'm going to write some negative things about a group and album that I like.
Godsmack could well have been called the surprise hit of 1998 with their self-titled debut. Sully Erna and crew seemed to tap the nerve center of today's youth with their aggression-filled music, and made a solid impression on the alternative-metal scene.
Their follow-up release, Awake, follows in those same footsteps - often, too close to treading in the original path. And while the songs are enjoyable, this album really is a reflection of what could have been.
I'll get my biggest complaint out of the way early - can't these guys play songs in any chord but a "D" tuning? I understand the power behind tuning guitars down one chord, but when all the songs sound like they're being played in the exact same chord, things get real boring real quick. Four words: been there, done that.
That's really the biggest obstacle that Godsmack face with Awake... the second being that they break precious little new ground on this disc. Unlike on Godsmack, I don't hear any songs jumping out at me screaming potential hit single (though the title track seems to be getting people's attention). And it's not that these songs are bad; if you liked Godsmack, you'll like Awake. But if you mixed up the songs from the two albums and played them randomly to people, chances are they wouldn't know they came from different creations.
The only area where I did see Godsmack trying new things was in two areas. The first was on the 49-second intro piece "The Journey," which is tied into the album's closer "Spiral". I did like the way that things came full circle at the end of this one. And, in an interesting move, I don't hear Erna's vocals at all on "Vampires," a track which relies heavily on sampled sound bites. It's kind of interesting in a way.
Awake has its share of good songs - I count "Sick Of Life," "Forgive Me" and "Bad Magick" in that group - but it feels like the listener is being handed the same material over and over again. Maybe that's what they want... but I tend to think that's not the case.
And that's what bothers me about this disc. I know that Godsmack has the talent to take what they've done so far and raise it to a new level musically and creatively. Instead, it feels like they chose to sit back and coast with Awake - and if the band doesn't feel challenged, the listener won't either.
Godsmack is a talented group of musicians, and Awake will no doubt add to their legion of fans. But this marks two albums they've stuck to the same formula - and history shows that if a band lives by the same formula, they also tend to die by it. Just a little something to think about.
2000 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Republic / Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.