Sound — 6
Godsmack can easily be deemed the Budweiser of metal: it's perhaps the most conventional of its kind, but it's that exact reason why the band is as prevalent as they are. Since forming nearly two decades ago, the Massachusetts natives have had three of their albums peak at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and several of their singles have long occupied heavy radio rotation to the point of bludgeoning eardrum saturation for some. There is no argument about how well Godsmack have done in the music world, but the argument is how appropriate it is. Back to the Budweiser analogy, Godsmack's radio-friendly metal formula has been the one-trick pony they've been riding all this time, which can be interpreted as Godsmack simply giving what the masses have wanted as much as it can be interpreted as Godsmack not being able to bring anything else to the table. Whether or not it's because more people started to become privy and less enthusiastic about the role Godsmack play in the metal world, or simply because the radio medium that Godsmack had dominated for so long is a much less integral medium in music today, Godsmack don't seem as omnipresent as they used to be last decade. But Godsmack won't let that be their cue to bow out, and now, they've released their sixth studio album, "1000hp."
With the intro eponymous track being a reflection of how far Godsmack have come from being a group of small-time rockers with a dream to playing sold-out stadium concerts on the regular, musically, its "typical Godsmack" sound complements the self-aware message of the song: Godsmack know their formula got them this far and they have no interest in rocking that boat or throwing any real curveballs in the album. As a whole, "1000hp" works just like any other Godsmack album as well: amongst the majority of basic-riffed, tightly-formatted alt-metal tracks, there are also a couple less-intense songs ("Something Different" and "Turning to Stone" play these roles), as well as a marathon-minded, borderline-progressive-metal song ("Generation Day"). Though the experimentations that are found in "1000hp" are sample size, Godsmack do throw in a few new sound elements throughout the album: they intertwine some acoustic guitar parts in "FML" and "Generation Day," includes a violin melody in "Something Different," and in trying to vary the wah-pedal guitar solos that have seemingly stayed the same since "Awake," they slice-n-dice it up in "Locked & Loaded," and even use some talkbox effect in "Living in the Gray." The most interest-piquing moment comes at the beginning of "Nothing Comes Easy," where slow-droning guitar tones evocate a shoegazing or stoner metal feel, something considerably different than what to expect from Godsmack; but as the intro noise fades out and the alt-metal riffage comes strutting in, the message sets in that the style-change was only a façade, further articulating that Godsmack sees no reason to sound like anything other than what they've been sounding like all this time.
Lyrics — 5
Seemingly in tandem with the all-but-trademarked Godsmack alt-metal sound, the lyrics are exactly what you'd expect frontman Sully Erna to shout in those songs. Erna still gravitates towards penning the majority of his songs with narratives that confront a particular other, though this style hits its peak of comical aggression with "Locked & Loaded," which sounds like the sequel to the equally-hawkish "Cryin' Like a B-tch" from "The Oracle," and echoes with inadequacy in comparison to the earlier, more renowned singles "Whatever" and "Greed." Erna's narratives also continue to contain an angsty struggle from the narrator's point of view, and while they resonate feasibly in "Something Different" and "Turning to Stone," Erna hits a wince-worthy wall in "FML," perhaps because the shallowly forceful verses are paired with a hook that's based on an exclamation primarily used by teenaged girls. Erna shows his more pensive side in the lyrics of "What's Next?," where he speaks about not knowing what exactly comes after death, but choosing to live a satisfying life regardless; and in "Living in the Gray," he dismisses the stark philosophy of dualistic morality, so some deep thoughts can be found on the album. But the most original lyrics on the album are in "1000hp," since it's literally about Godsmack's massive success after all these years, and though it's considerably braggy and not concerned with being relatable to others (unless you also happen to have a band that's toured internationally and sold tens of millions of records), technically, they've earned the right to write a song about that.
Overall Impression — 5
Not ashamed of going back to the same well of creativity for the sixth time over, "1000hp" strongly bears the mentality "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." With Godsmack answering the question of "is it time for a change in sound?" with an adamant "no," a follow-up question must also be asked: how much does it matter at this point? The idea of branching out into new sounds and styles is an existential crossroad for many bands today, but for Godsmack, who seem to be very comfortable rooted in the same mentality they had two decades ago, they're perfectly fine with the branch they're on; most likely because that branch has yielded an abundance of success and enough fans to be considered a sovereign nation. Overall, "1000hp" will give the listener more of the same from Godsmack; so for any Godsmack fans that want more of the band's signature sound and method, this album is meant for you.