released May 4th, 2010

from the album - Cryin' Like A Bitch

from all music

The Boston-based alternative metal group Godsmack were originally comprised of vocalist Sully Erna (a devout Wiccan), guitarist Tony Rambola, bassist Robbie Merrill, and drummer Tommy Stewart. After debuting in 1997 with All Wound Up, Godsmack signed with Universal, which in 1998 reissued the LP as a self-titled effort with a handful of new tracks; at that point Stewart — who'd left the group in mid-1997 and was replaced by drummer Joe d'Arco — returned to the lineup on a permanent basis. The band's audience built slowly but surely, and Godsmack was certified gold in 1999, the same year the group was invited to join the Ozzfest tour; by the next year, it had sold over three million copies, thanks to hit singles like "Whatever" and "Keep Away." In 2000, the group again played Ozzfest, and released its second proper album, Awake, that fall. In January 2001, Awake earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the song "Vampires," and by March, it had sold two million copies.

Hot on the heels of their continuing success, their single "I Stand Alone" propelled the hype of the movie The Scorpion King in March 2002. As the single maintained Godsmack's strong presence at modern rock radio into the summer, founding member Tommy Stewart left the band in June. The David Bottrill-produced (Peter Gabriel, Tool, Mudvayne) album Faceless appeared in April 2003. It also marked the debut of ex-Amen drummer Shannon Larkin. The all-acoustic Other Side arrived in spring 2004. In 2006, Erna stepped behind the board to helm IV, a collection of new material that reached number one while both retaining the group's trademark heft and expanding its sonic palette. A greatest-hits collection, Good Times, Bad Times: 10 Years of Godsmack, arrived in 2007, followed by the band’s fifth full-length offering, The Oracle, in 2010.

album review

Four long years after IV, Godsmack’s last effort, fans perhaps had some reason for trepidation about the release of The Oracle. After all, since their 1998 debut, they had moved further afield of the songwriting and recording formula that made it eventually a triple platinum success. Godsmack had taken their post-grunge brand of heavy metal and brandished it into a sound that fluctuated between straight-up riff-heavy plodding and more dramatic sonic ambiences that thundered on Awake and Faceless (the former of these won a Grammy), then mutated on 2004’s The Other Side, which showcased them playing acoustically. Finally, on IV, they employed sound effects to such a degree that they used a vocoder. Each album had diminishing returns of fortune and and enthusiasm from listeners. The Oracle is, if nothing else, a return to the band’s signature sound of yore. It was produced by Dave Fortman, who has helmed sessions for Evanescence, Simple Plan, Slipknot, Mudvayne, and Otep. The album’s pre-release single, the aggressively roiling “Cryin' Like a Bitch” — aided by its video — pushed it to the top of the metal chart. (The controversy surrounding it, rumored to be about Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx and events of the Crüe Fest 2 tour, didn’t hurt either.) “What If?” and “Love-Hate-Sex-Pain” followed it, creating greater anticipation for the final product. Listening through the album, it seems as if Godsmack heard the cry of their dedicated hoard and went back to making the kind of record that defined them. Check tracks like “Forever Shamed,” with monstrous beats — real and sampled — by Shannon Larkin against Tony Rombola's churning, syncopated riffs and that timekeeping bass charge by Robbie Merrill. Frontman Sully Erna's vocals are right up front, half singing, half shouting, and channeling the late Layne Staley more than he ever has before — and that’s saying something. Interestingly, singles aside, the album picks up steam as it reaches its nadir. “Shadow of a Soul,” with its military cadences and distorted guitars and basslines, propels one of the hardest-rocking tracks here. The title cut closes the album out, and at 6:23 clocks in as its longest. It begins slowly and melodically, but begins to pick up real steam at around the one-minute mark. Basically, it's an instrumental suite with sampled vocals from a number of sources asking “What is reality?” as it moves through various stages and phases before whispering to a finish. Those fans seeking a return to Godsmack’s roots will not be disappointed; for others, the sound may be a retrenchment because there was no place else for them to go. The only undebatable thing is that The Oracle is the most aggressive disc Godsmack have issued since their debut.

Track Listing

1 Cryin' Like a B**ch Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 3:22
2 Saints and Sinners Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 4:09
3 War and Peace Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 3:09
4 Love-Hate-Sex-Pain Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 5:15
5 What If? Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 6:35
6 Devil's Swing Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 3:30
7 Good Day to Die Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 3:55
8 Forever Shamed Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 3:23
9 Shadow of a Soul Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 4:44
10 The Oracle Erna, Larkin, Merrill, Rombola 6:22