I must be getting old, because recently, I've noticed my attitude softening toward the dreaded "nu-metal" bands of fifteen years ago. Maybe it's just nostalgia for what I now perceive (incorrectly, I'm sure) as a simpler time, but the burnout and disinterest I felt circa 2002, the year I quit seriously listening to mainstream rock radio has mellowed of late. Don't get me wrong, I still won't go out of my way to listen to Creed (for just one example), but maybe I'm not going to dive through a glass door to get to the tuner to change the station before Scott Stapp's droning vocals start.
All this brings us to Godsmack's latest album, 1000hp. I thought Godsmack were just about the best of the best of the new breed back in '98, when their self-titled debut was released. I can still remember walking around campus my freshman year of college, inwardly chanting the chorus of "Whatever." The song just came out at the perfect time in my life. And even though I got bored with Godsmack after their second album, partly because there was just so much music out there to explore in the post-Napster universe, I still respected them. It seemed to me like they, and a few others, actually understood what metal is supposed to FEEL like. A lot of bands can drop-tune and sound angry or moody, but they forget about that sense of power that's supposed to be there.
So here they are again, Sully and the gang returned after four years and nearly breaking up over hurt feelings about side-projects. And although song titles like "FML" (I guessed "Fuck My Life" even before I'd heard the song), "Something Different," and "What's Next," would indicate a deep yearning for change and a dissatisfaction with the predictable, Godsmack play it straight down the middle. There's nothing as aggressive or raging as the first two albums, but if you've heard Faceless, IV, or The Oracle, you know what to expect. Chunky, heavy riffs, midtempo grooves, and angsty psychobabble lyrics. It's a poor man's mix of Black Album-era Metallica and early Alice In Chains, Sully's Hetfield-isms leading the way. And yet he seems to be singing more and growling less with each successive release. The more energetic songs like "What's Next," "Locked & Loaded" and the title track (complete with the overused motorcycle sound effect) remind me why I still like this band.
But there's no denying the music sounds pretty samey after not very long. That's one of the problems with drop-tuning. Whether you drop your top string to D, C or B, you're pretty much stuck playing in that key—there's not that much you can do with the guitar until you tune it back up. This has always been a problem with Godsmack. The unwavering approach extends to the lyrics as well. "Don't cry or sympathy," Sully sings on "Locked & Loaded," "All your whining, it fuckin' tires me." Interesting words from a guy who's never shied away from trite, talk show-style self-examination.
PITRIFF RATING - 71/100 - It's Godsmack. You know what you're getting. 1000hp might overestimate its engine specs by about half, but fans of the band have no reason in the world to be disappointed. Having said that, if you've moved on at all on your own personal musical odyssey, no one could blame you for not being bowled over. There's a definite sense of having heard it all before. I prefer the Godsmack of the first two albums, back when, if they did a ballad, it was the creepiness of "Voodoo," and not this album's "Something Different." Godsmack do what they do, and do it well, so to give them a lower rating would be unfair. And in their own active-rock world, I'd take 'em in a heartbeat over Three Days Grace or Papa Roach.