Godsmack look to the metal greats for guidance
The idea of fall and redemption is thousands of years old, and it’s laced into the new Godsmack album, where singer Sully Erna’s lyrics spin a tale of rock-and-roll excess, its emotional strain, and if not outright salvation, at least the promise of it.
INTRAVENUS DE MILO: The title of Godmack’s fourth album is IV, which also happens to be the title of a Led Zep classic
There are other classic themes too, in the album’s sound and its ambition. The disc is called Godsmack IV(Republic/Universal), which is sensible enough, since it’s the Boston metal machine’s fourth studio effort. It might seem a coincidence that Led Zeppelin’s fourth album is known as both ZoSo and IV. But it’s not, because Zeppelin producer and engineer Andy Johns engineered Godsmack’s latest too.
“I’m hoping this is the album where we finally get some recognition,” Erna tells me. “I feel it’s really strong. We wrote 40 songs and picked the best 11. As we were getting ready to make the album, we had some band meetings and we decided that we were going to step it up. We wanted to make sure every song was there so when people heard it they wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, I like tracks #3, #5, and #11.’ They’d want to hear every killer song again and again. And the rest we just threw away. We only wanted what was great.”
I remind Erna that he and his colleagues from Boston’s northern suburbs have already had some recognition. After all, their 1988 debut, which they made for $2600, has sold 3.5 million copies, their second, Awake, tallied 2.5 million, and 2003’s Facelesshas hit 1.5 million. Plus, their fans are passionate about ’em. “Yeah, but we have yet to make a record that’s hit like Led Zeppelin’s IV or AC/DC’s Back in Black. When those albums came out, those bands were unstoppable. They were all over the radio. They were everywhere. They owned the world. We’d like that to happen with Godsmack.”
For a while, it seemed Erna might lose a vital part of his own world. And that’s what fueled his tortured lyrics for Godsmack IV. The song titles “Living in Sin,” “Hollow,” “The Enemy,” “Temptation,” and “No Rest for the Wicked” hint at the story. “What happened was, I got tired of the way I was living my life, and I decided to change for my daughter and for my relationship,” he explains over the phone from backstage at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “When we were on tour with Metallica, [frontman] James Hetfield took me under his wing and taught me about growing up and becoming a real man. Everybody’s got to grow up at some point and decide who they really want to be. Did I want to keep being the dad who shoos his three-year-old daughter away from the couch he’s lying on because he’s hung over when all she wants to do is bring over her coloring books and play with me? That’s not the way a real father behaves.
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