Godsmack: ‘When Legends Rise’ Makes Them a More Well-Rounded Band – Album Review
"I can't live every year worrying about and wondering about if the metalheads are going to love everything I do," Godsmack's Sully Erna recently told us at one point during a recent interview for the band's new album When Legends Rise. And while words like "rebirth" and "experimentation" have been tossed around during the promotion of the new disc, everyone should take a collective breath and prepare for a musical journey that embraces the music the band has made in the past, but paints with a broader palette yielding a more well-rounded album and one of the most complete works the band has delivered in years.
While the single "Bulletproof" brings in more synths, with verses that slink along for a more accessible vibe that plays off the low end, longtime fans should not worry about losing the heaviness that Godsmack has delivered over the years. This album has plenty of that, starting with the title track that opens the disc, pulsing with vitality and delivering an anthemic mission statement of sorts for the group. "It's burning down / It's burning high / When ashes fall / The legends rise," belts Sully Erna, possibly addressing the band's desire to start anew. There are tracks like the adrenaline-fueled "Take It to the Edge," the road-burning rocker "Say My Name" with its jagged licks and thunderous hits and the electrified fury of "Eye of the Storm" that should satiate longtime fans.
But not content with the status quo and perhaps picking up a few things from his solo career, Erna opened up to collaborating with outside writers, getting a better feel of how others might see a path he could take. "I'm not gonna limit myself to that and especially at that growth phase when we want to expand and explore," the singer told us. "I think it's important that we reach out to people that also have a great track record and have a great [ear] for melody. I was curious. I wanted to experiment on this record."
One of the bigger steps taken by the band comes with "Under Your Scars," a track that starts on piano and while it's really more mid-tempo, it's may be as close to a ballad as you might find for Godsmack. This raw nerve track shows more vulnerability than usual lyrically, but also is one of the more ambitious songs on When Legends Rise, complete with building drums and a "November Rain"-ish mid-section where guitars and beats rock over the top of a string section.
The percussive element also remains strong, as you might expect with Shannon Larkin behind the kit and onetime drummer Erna also having his stamp on the disc. Whether it be the propulsive chorus of "Someday," the more rhythmic patter of "Take It to the Edge" or the percussive interplay of the head-bobbing rocker "Unforgettable," the beat remains a key element.
When Legends Rise finds Godsmack at a key turning point in their career, with a well-established sound but a desire not to fall into the trap of repetition. By opening things up, they should be ready for an uptick in their career. And do look for this album to make its presence felt live as well. As Erna told us, "I have a lot of confidence in believing that this record has a little bit of something for everybody and it won't disappoint them. We plan on playing this stuff live." So pick up the new album here and let the new legends rise.