Sometimes it only takes one song. Sometimes it takes less. Godsmack’s first record for four years is one of the latter. It most certainly isn’t a grower. It’s straight in your face.
The title track kicks this off for good reason. First, its seriously good, but it’s actually a little more than that, it’s absolutely enormous. 20 million sales in the last 20 years clearly allow you a certain swagger, and it’s right in evidence from the off here.
In the build-up to “When Legends Rise” there was the sort of words that bands like to shout. “Rebirth,” “Reinvention” and all the rest of them. On this occasion, to be fair to the band there is some merit to it too. The core elements are still there – and there is a real heaviness to the 11 songs – but there is plenty of synth and maybe just a little more crunch too.
“…Rise” is followed up with “Bulletproof” and in many ways its this one that convinces this record is special. After all, anyone can write a great song, only the great bands can follow it up. There is a sense in the verses that its merely toying with you, and by the time the chorus hits, you’d have to have a heart of stone to resist its charms (plus any song that can get Sebastian Bach on its video has got to be doing something right, right?)
There is a grown up, serious intent about the album. “Unforgettable” has an unashamed “whoa, whoa” hook and there will not be a fist not in the air by the time it’s done. Moreover, Shannon Larkin finds a drum sound that even for him is huge and guitarist Tony Rombola kicks out the riffs, in great slabs of sound and its as if the two are invigorated by their blues record from a couple of years ago (“darkly glorious” we called The Apocalypse Blues Revue when it was reviewed here….) and if anyone doubts Rombola’s prodigious skills, then check the way the solo on “Every Part Of Me” soars.
“Take It To The Edge” pulses with an new found electricity, but it follows the formula, in that it is gargantuan in scope, and does it’s work quickly, nothing here sprawls. These are precision attacks, hitting their target and back out again.
“Under Your Scars” is like a Stone Sour ballad – and not just because Larkin has drummed for Corey’s boys – but that one really just provides a palette cleanser, before steeling itself for the final push, which begins with the incessant energy of “Someday” which sees the superb Sully Erna deliver a muscular vocal performance, and if “Just One Time” lives and dies by its chorus – and sounds like a testosterone fuelled Stabbing Westward – then the wonderful “Say My Name” is nothing more than a masterclass in heads down rock n roll.
“Let It Out” is more polished, shiny goodness, and makes good on Erna’s love for Layne Stayley – but if this is grunge than its more STP than AIC, while “Eye Of The Storm” is a mighty slab of metal, and the chances of it not engendering a moshipit are virtually nil – but goodness me, its catchy too!
It ends with thunder, the storm after the storm, if you will, and there is very little calmness around. A collection that leaves them sounding fresh as daisies while embracing their legacy. Godsmack are the kings of modern US arena rock. Don’t believe me? Listen to “When Legends Rise.”