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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Godsmack

Awake

Review by Gary Hill

There is a term in the music biz called "sophomore jinx". It refers to the phenomenon of bands with very strong debut efforts having a hard time matching the quality of that first release on the follow-up. With the Halloween release of Awake, Godsmack have opened themselves up to their sophomore jinx debate. How did they fare? Well, honestly, they have not done badly. Is Awake as potent a CD as the self-titled effort? In a word, "no", however, the disc is quite strong and up with the vast majority of albums out there. Also to its credit, it finds the band not content to rest on their laurels, but trying to cover new ground. Obviously the temptation when your first disc has sold as well as theirs did is to simply duplicate that release. While there is some material here that fits into that category, the CD does show a band that is in the process of refining and stretching their musical style.

There are some cuts that definitely equal anything from the first offering ("Awake", "Vampires", "Goin' Down" and "Mistakes"), but there is some weak material here, too ("Bad Magick" and "Forgive Me" come to mind. There are only two real complaints about the album, though. One is the length of the disc. Weighing in at a mere 45 plus minutes, it is easy to see that they could have added more songs to the mix. The second problem is a bit more serious, and carries over from the first album. Listening to that debut release, one tends to notice that Sully has a tendency to rely to heavily on his "yeah"'s. The trend continues here, and begins to wear a bit thin after a time.

All that being said, Godsmack (Sully, Robbie, Tony and Tommy) have produced a disc that is quite entertaining, and moves the band's sound forward, while still staying true to their roots. For those uninitiated in the Godsmack realm, I would recommend the first disc as the best starting point. However, for all those who already have that disc, this one is a great addition to your collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sick of Life
An ambient sort of building process starts this cut, then it shifts into high gear. This feels a lot like something from the first disc, but with a harder edge.
Awake
The title track comes across as a triumphant and defiant sounding hard edged number that rocks out quite well. It is one of the strongest tracks on the disc and the first single. The tune features a cool guitar solo.
Greed
Very hard edged and gritty, this is pretty typical Godsmack angst. This one features a very cool instrumental break.
Bad Magick
With an intro texture that feels like a stripped down, punky take on the classic sound of Black Sabbath, as the vocals enter this one becomes more standard Godsmack. It is one of the weaker tracks on the disc, but has a very catchy chorus and interesting bridge.
Goin' Down
Starting with a cool bass line, this cut has an awesome guitar sound and great texture. This is definitely a stand out track, with the chorus being particularly catchy.
Mistakes
Dark effects sounds form the intro on this cut. As it enters the song proper, a killer dark metal sound overtakes. This one is a scorcher. The break, with its spoken word samples and great jamming is particularly strong. This segment serves as both an extended outro and a segue into the next number as it dissolved down to feedback dominated weirdness.
Trippin'
This one is a dark, mellower jam that almost feels like part of the previous song. It drops to ambiend effects to end.
Forgive Me
"Forgive Me" is a fairly generic sounding Godsmack cut. It dissolves into effects that serve as the intro to the next number.
Vampires
This is a very cool jam with the only "vocals" being a sampled track of a treatise on the phonomenon of the vampire legend in our society.
The Journey
This is a very brief instrumental piece of weirdness that serves as intro to the next cut.
Spiral
Starting with world percussion, this one evolves into a great sort of jam with a wonderful rhythmic flow. It is quite a nice change of pace and a solid jame with Eastern sorts of modes.
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