LIVE & INSPIRED
I'm sure I'll probably get killed here by my metal brethren, but I actually like Godsmack. Certainly, I realize they are a more metal version of Nickelback; a band whose sole goal is to create three or four radio hits on each album, sell a good amount of music and concert tickets, and basically be a key cog in the radio rock syndicate. I get it - it's less about the art of music than the business of music with them. That said, they have been consistently solid with their albums...so much so that most say they are the modern day AC/DC where there's NO difference from record to record. For Godsmack, all a new album means to most people is that they will be invading radio with the sames songs as always...but with different words attached to them.
From listening to THE EPISODES from Taproot, I guess it really wasn't that far of a leap for them to go from talented alternative rock band to a more emo flavored version of said talented alternative rock band. You have to give these Michigan rockers credit for keeping themelves somewhat relevant in the wake of a trendy landscape that has changed markedly since they debuted.
FIRE FROM THE SKY
There's definitely some credit that has to be given to Shadows Fall. Without question, they are one of the most recognizable band from a collection of extreme metal bands to have broken out in the early 2000s. When you look at their contemporaries - God Forbid, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage - they fit perfectly in there with that small collection of bands that a lot of modern metalheads actually care about from release to release. To me personally, they've done the most with the least amount of "it" factor. To their credit (or discredit if you must), they have always featured a sound that's all their own while merging pieces parts from everything else around them.
THE STRANGE CASE OF...
Sometimes I judge things without ever giving them a chance. This happens primarily because I get 30-40 releases to review. That said, if there's zero in the 1/10 of a second when I see the initial press release that interests me, a release goes low in the review pile. Most times, enough new stuff comes in where I don't end up getting to it. Halestorm is one of those bands that I just missed for what i guess has been 3 years. I remember when their debut came out I thought, based solely on the name of the band, that they were one of those horrible Celtic Folk Metal bands that Nuclear Blast seems to try to force me to like every quarter. I'll admit it, I judged this book by its cover (in this case, their name). Sorry about that.
It's ironic that shock rocker Marilyn Manson's career didn't crash and burn due to waning interest and a lack of ability to shock people anymore. Sure, both of those things have happened to Manson, but how quickly we all forget that those first several albums had some real musical meat on their bones as well. No, it wasn't anything outside that killed off Manson. It's was Manson himself, as he decided that he was his character and the world would be interested in his relationship struggles as converted and perverted into the soundscape he records with. To say the least, it was a monumental flop. Both of his last two droning tales of relationship woes, EAT ME, DRINK ME and THE HIGH END OF THE LOW. Sure, both had their moments of patented Manson Violence, but both were ruined by morbid tales of relationship failures and the deviant thoughts he was having as relationships ended. Simply put, those albums were not very good at all.