Godsmack roars back onto the scene with their sixth studio album, 1000HP (One Thousand Horsepower)! Roar back they have, nitro-fueled, hammer down, jammin’ gears and pedal to the grill. The band announced earlier this year that the songwriting and recording process had begun on their next studio album. I, for one, was relieved and ecstatic as I’ve been a fan of the band since a longtime friend and Boston native sent me their true debut album “All Wound Up” along with a CD single for a newly recorded song called ‘Whatever’ in late 1997. Between 1997 and 2010 the band has released five studio albums, an acoustic EP and one ‘Best Of’ compilation to celebrate their 10th anniversary since their major label debut in 1998.
Since the release and tour cycle of their last album, ‘The Oracle’, the band took a three year layoff from one another. Sully issued his critically acclaimed solo album ‘Avalon’ & toured behind it releasing a companion boxed set and DVD in 2012, the band released their first ever live album in 2012 along with a bonus EP of cover tunes that inspired each member during their formative years and almost broke up…..AGAIN! Thankfully, they pulled it together, worked out their issues, streamlined their operation by leasing and converting a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in Boston into Godsmack Headquarters complete with a living area, kitchenette, recording studio, live stage room, and storage for road cases and staging. The Beantown bad boys were back!
Godsmack has been one of the only heavier bands alongside Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth and Slipknot that I’ve kept up with through the years as my taste leans towards the more melodic side of rock. Godsmack hooked me with their rhythms, riffs, acute sense of melody and mainly, the lyrics. Sully is an underrated storyteller in my opinion. I’ve continued to shrug off the naysayers who say the band is a complete rip-off of Alice In Chains. Yes, the influence is there from the chunky guitars to the haunting melodies, yes, AIC has a song entitled “Godsmack” but real fans know the story of the band’s name. Haters are going to hate no matter what so if you are going to be accused of being a glorified tribute band, you might as well pick a band that made such a major impact & continues to impact the music world to this day!
‘1000HP’ peels out into a asphalt blazing riff-fest that lyrically sees Sully giving an autobiographical history of the band. The band is locked in on this track, Robbie & Shannon lay down a punky foundation for Sully & Tony to do their six string thang. Solo is short & to the point, no excessive wanking here! Before ya know it, this track has left you in the dust so hold on! This tune is a perfect first single and I look forward to the video premiere. ‘FML (Fuck My Life)’ has the familiar Godsmack groove that they are known for. I don’t think Robbie and Shannon get enough credit for the groove they consistently lock down. Had Shannon not joined the band back in 2002, Sully would still be their in-studio drummer as the previous guy wasn’t up to par. The fact Sully allows Shannon to play drums on the albums says a lot because Sully is no slouch behind the kit!
Shannon Larkin, hands down, is one of the best drummers, period, end of story. He hits heavy alas John Bonham, doesn’t overuse the cymbals, his feet are frantic and is a helluva lot of fun to watch live. Only one other albums drumming has ever impressed me from beginning to end & that belongs to Tommy Lee on Mötley Crüe’s self-titled 1994 album with John Corabi on lead vocals. I would have loved to see a Shannon Larkin/Tommy Lee ‘Batalla de los Tambores (Battle of the drums) during the 2009 edition of CrüeFest but somebody had to be a rockstar and I’m not talking about Tommy because we all know he is a rapper/DJ! *wink wink smirk*
The appropriately titled ‘Something Different’ harkens back to the more experimental side of the band during their ‘IV’ album. The first verse especially has a James Hetfield ‘Black Album’ vibe to it vocally. Sully really takes a different approach vocally for the majority of this song, a welcome change of pace. Through the use of multiple tempo changes, Sully’s vocal approach and cello, this song seems to be more an extension of his solo album and the “IV” album. I digg it! What’s next you ask, well, ‘What’s Next’ is next, what? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Anywho, this cut has a familiar theme….love, hate and death. Topics that Sully seems to ponder a lot in his writing. Like I said, he can tell a good story and make you think. Another song that makes you think is up next in ‘Generation Day’. When I first heard the track online, I didn’t “get it” but after a few listens on the stereo, cranked to ELEVEN of course and through headphones, I have a deep appreciation for it. Lyrically short, sweet and to the point. The ‘chugga chugga’ riffs are hypnotic, parts are atmospheric & moody, tribal at times and clocking in at over six minutes in length, this song allows the band to stretch musically without being self-indulgent. This will be the ‘JAM’ song of their headlining set where each guy gets a share of the spotlight, I look forward to it.
Following a rich history of ‘kiss-off’ songs, ‘Locked & Loaded’ does it predecessors justice. Titles such as ‘Greed’ (from 2000’s ‘Awake’), ‘I Fucking Hate You’ (from 2003’s ‘Faceless’), ‘The Enemy’ (from 2006’s ‘IV’) and ‘Cryin’ Like A Bitch’ (from 2010’s ‘The Oracle’) come to mind, ‘Locked & Loaded’ is the sequel to the aforementioned ‘Cryin’ Like A Bitch’. I am a fan of both bands and both parties have taken their fair share of jabs at the other & everybody knows that song is about Sully’s beef with Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx due to incidents between them on CrüeFest 2 in 2009 & ‘Locked & Loaded’ picks up post-2010. It is a good track and if you pay close attention to the last 30+ seconds, Sully takes a pretty good jab at Frank….oops, I mean Nikki! Maybe these two should have a charity boxing match like the much-hyped but never-materialized early 1990’s bout between Guns N’ Roses Axl Rose and Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil. As Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along?”
‘Living In The Gray’ starts off with a nice blend of tribal drumming and wah-wah riffs. A slow groove builds to a mild crescendo before mellowing back down and repeating a few times before our old friend ‘The Talk-box’ makes a 30 second appearance for the solo starting at the 2:35 mark before segueing back into the chorus. ‘I Don’t Belong’ is another example of Shannon’s masterful drumming and features some machine gun fills. Sully seems to be questioning his place in life through the lyrics. Love Tony’s solo as he gets to show his bluesy side. For those who are unaware, Tony and Shannon have a side band down in Florida called ‘The Blue Cross Band’ that is blues-based and gives them a creative outlet that just doesn’t fit entirely within the realm of Godsmack. They are on Facebook and plan on releasing an album once ‘1000HP’s’ cycle runs its course.
‘Nothing Comes Easy’ takes a look at relationships and the struggles within one’s self. At this time of my life, this one really hits home. The ability to hear a song and feel that it was written about you or a certain period of your life is the thing that attracts people to certain songs or artists. It is why music can be so therapeutic. ‘Turning To Stone’ has some more Metallica ‘Black Album’ vibe, ‘Voodoo’ inspired tribal hand drumming and vocals in parts along with some middle-eastern guitar tones setting the perfect soundtrack to just chill out on a rainy day with the lights down, windows cracked and Nag Champa filling the air. If you head to Best Buy and get their exclusive release, it’ll be well worth the coin as, I feel, ‘Life Is Good’ is the best cut of the album. Classic Godsmack groove, aggressive pissed off lyrics and a take-no-shit attitude soak this song to its core. An anthem of sorts. Sully sings with conviction in his angry snarl, Tony gives the talk-box another workout, all-too-familiar sounds of the pub and an air tight groove are the perfect way to end another fine offering from Godsmack! Well done fellas, well done!
Godsmack – 1000HP
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Sully Erna – Vocals & Stuff
Tony Rombola – Guitar & Vocals
Robbie Merrill – 4 String Thing
Shannon Larkin -Drums & Concussions
03. Something Different
04. What’s Next
05. Generation Day
06. Locked & Loaded
07. Livin’ In The Gray
08. I Don’t Belong
09. Nothing Comes Easy
10. Turning To Stone
11. Life Is Good (Best Buy bonus track)