Godsmack – [Album]

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

For over fifteen years now, Godsmack has been experimenting with new and innovative ways of telling people to go the hell away. “Get Up, Get Out,” “Keep Away,” “I Stand Alone”… and if you don’t heed their warning, be ready to face the consequences. Just ask Nikki Sixx, also known as the inspiration for “Cryin’ Like a Bitch.” They’ve got more ways to say “Beat It” than Michael Jackson could’ve ever dreamed of, if he had not spent all his time dreaming about… (insert inappropriate joke here).

Live and Inspired
is the most recent release from America’s premiere anti-social rockers, and they are just as surly as ever. The album features thirteen live tracks recorded in Detroit which cover their career from beginning to present. It offers a crisp, well-produced concert recording which presents both the band and audience bursting with energy and is a must-own for any fan of the band. 

Now, to be fair, I don’t know if I’d call myself a fan of Godsmack. Much like Disturbed, I have an appreciation for what they do and a respect for the fact that they’ve managed to establish themselves in a crowded heavy metal marketplace, but I won’t be seen wearing one of their t-shirts to the gym. I did, however, own Godsmack’s first two albums in high school, and managed to catch them at OzzFest some years ago. They’re good at what they do, and I still enjoy popping that first self-titled album into the CD player to fuel some high school flashbacks.

For that reason, I was pleased to find that the song selection on Live and Inspired was heavy on their earlier stuff, including a ten-minute sing-along version of “Keep Away.” “Speak,” “Awake” and their original classic “Whatever.” All of those cuts sound fantastic live, especially when the audience gets going. You can really hear the rage in frontman Sully Erna’s voice when people just won’t leave him alone, and you’re left with the feeling that these guys would really throw down if you didn’t back off. 

“Voodoo” is another standout track on the album, along with the similarly slower “Serenity.” “Batalla De Los Tambores” is a six and a half-minute instrumental to-do that any fan of percussion will appreciate (forget cowbell, I need more bongo!). There’s a good amount of variety mixed into this performance, which helps keep you from realizing that a lot of their songs kinda sound the same. 

The last quarter of the album (the "Inspired" half of the title) offers up four studio-recorded covers of songs by The Beatles, John Denver, Pink Floyd and Metallica. Now, I’m a big fan of a cover song when done properly, which is to say the band takes it and makes it into a version all their own. Rage Against the Machine offered a great example with “Renegades of Funk,” and Metallica really impressed me with their take on “Turn the Page.” With my taste in covers made plain, I'll say that Godsmack managed to pull off a fifty percent success rate with these four tracks. 

“Rocky Mountain High” and “Come Together” are fun, energetic, Godsmack’d versions of the originals which see them succeed thanks to a transfusion of their own style. There’s no doubt who you’re listening to with these crunching riffs and angry vocals. When not taken too seriously, “Come Together” is particularly fun, if for no other reason because Erna is not trying to push people away with the lyrics for once. 

The second half of the covers quotient of Live and Inspired, however, leaves you wishing for more. “Time” sounds very similar to the Pink Floyd original, aside from the vocals. The band really didn’t do much to make it stand out as a Godsmack song, which is a shame. The same goes for “Nothing Else Matters”; while it is changed up a bit – played on piano rather than guitar – it could easily be mistaken for the original if you weren’t really paying attention. A piano take on the song should really be left to someone like Nora Jones or Adelle… someone with a voice that could take the song in a new direction. It almost seems like Erna is doing a James Hetfield impression on this track, which really makes it more of a space filler than anything special. Fortunately these tracks are the last two on the album, so they are easily forgettable. 

Overall I was very pleased with Live and Inspired. Godsmack isn’t the greatest or most original hard rock band on the scene, but they know how to play the game, and this album is a great exhibition of their strengths. It is a solid live album with some fun covers thrown in as a bonus, and it’s worthy of hogging a bit of space on my iPod.



Live and Inspired
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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