Taking all the various elements of past releases and bringing in some new touches, results in one of Godsmack's best records ever. The band still has that Alice in Chains haze wrapped around their music, with Sully Erna sounding like Hetfield at times. The success of their acoustic record has given them the confidence to try some non-metal cuts that still burn with a real fire to them. Don't worry people. By that I mean hard rock not polka or something.
The record opens with a measured pace on "Livin' in Sin" before cranking into the hard as nails chorus. Sonically, the band (bassist Robbie Merrill, guitarist Tony Rombola and drummer Shannon Larkin) is sharper than ever with production chores done by Sully himself. The single, "Speak", is up next and it is by one of the best cuts on the record. Heavy but melodic, the band has found the perfect marriage between the two.
The Metallica-sounding "The Enemy" rolls along at an energetic clip and "Shine Down" is highlighted by a mean harmonica courtesy of Mr. Erna on the intro. The jewel of the record is "Hollow", a ballad that fits Sully's voice perfectly. The song recalls Led Zep IV (ZOSO) with the acoustic guitars (and I think I can hear mandolins as well) and guest female vocalist who has a terrific voice. The gentle string section augments things perfectly.
"Bleeding Me" has another strong melody line which allows Sully to really sing more than usual. "Voodoo Too" is a terrific companion piece to "Voodoo" from the first record, complete with those tribal drums that really position the piece in your mind.
You know how some records throw out all the good stuff at the beginning and give you scraps by the end? This isn't one of those records. "Temptation" and "Mama" are both really strong cuts that help set up the last track "One Rainy Day" which is excellent. It's equal parts mystical and bluesy, with an inspired vocal by Sully.
There are several cuts here that could sway people who are not already Godsmack fans. And for the rest of us, we have our fix for the next year or so.