Taking their name from an Alice In Chains song, Godsmack have always struggled to shake off comparisons to the Seattle band. That’s because Alice In Chains were more than an influence to the Massachusetts four-peice, they were the blueprint for which the band could build upon. The dark, almost tribal style of Alice In Chains was transformed and elevated by Godsmack, and vocalist, Sully Erna, takes his whine directly from the Staley-Cantrell partnership and combines it with the fierce howl of James Hetfield.
However, since 2006’s IV, Godsmack have been drifting away from this sound and towards a hard rock style that mirrors the Load/Reload era of Metallica. Their new style keeps grunge distractions to a minimum and focuses on producing three-and-a-half minute tracks steered by crunching riffs and wah-soaked pentatonic leads.
This trend continues with their aptly named sixth studio album, 1000hp. Opener, and title track, 1000hp, lays down the path for the record to follow, with loud riffs, radio-orientated chorus melodies and the percussive crunch of metal. FML bulldozes past the acoustic intro and makes clever use of a call and answer vocal technique in the verses (diminished only by the 46 year old vocalist cringe-inducing cry of “F*** My Life”), whilst Locked and Loaded reminds of the arena-sized, metal thrashing of their third album Faceless, by combining screaming leads with drop-tuned chaos. What Next?, Nothing Comes Easy and I Don’t Belong carry on in this vein, with each member pumping an endless amount of energy into their respective instruments.
Occasionally 1000hp meanders away from this formula. Livin’ In The Gray has a hypnotic charm which channels their tribal nature (and also features a Bon Jovi Livin’ On A Prayer-style talk box section); a style that is repeated on the lengthy and spectacular Generation Day, which allows Robbie Merrill’s rumbling bass to power over the top of palm-muted riffing. Album closer, Turning To Stone, also favours their tribal roots and reminds of Godsmack favourites Voodoo and Serenity, sharing the same reverberating guitars (that sound almost like Tool’s Schism), alternative percussion and bass twang. However, it is perhaps the most simple track on the album that sees the band pushing their limits. Something Different is just that; a basic fifth chord rock song that somehow subdues the listen with trance-like monotony and beautiful strings.
1000hp isn’t the most diverse album ever made, but it is a record that shows a band having fun writing in a style that they know and love. The result is a record whose immediate tracks scream for the volume to be turned up, whilst the deeper cuts simmer beneath and reward on repeat listens. Godsmack will not widen their fan base with this sixth attempt, but will solidify their status as alternative metal titans, and quite frankly that’s all they’ve ever wanted.
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