Sound — 7
It's been about four years since Godsmack unleashed a new album on the world. The landscape has changed, but they haven't and that's not a criticism. If you are a Godsmack fan, what you are expecting is what you'll be served with on The Oracle. The path is not diverged from. Experiments are not conducted, resulting in something unexpected. Nope. This is meat 'n' potatoes hard rock, the kind radio is apt to play and the type of music that Godsmack became a success because of. Godsmack's music has always had a gloomy, grunge vibe, with elements similar to Metallica and Alice in Chains and honestly, that's never a bad thing, since both bands have a knack for heavy with melody. Only Godsmack always dared to up the metallic ante a notch with their records. The Oracle is vintage Godsmack: machismo imparted by vocalist Sully Erna and plenty of riffs that'll delight strippers and send a testosterone surge through the bloodstreams of rock lovin' American dudes. "Cryin' Like a Bitch" puffs its chest with pride, whereas "Saints and Sinners" pulses with thunderous beats and molten rhythms. The Oracle's closest living relatives are Dirt and The Black Album. "Devil's Swing" revs its engines like one of Erna's beloved motorcycles and boasts a bluesy cadence and a riff hook that lingers for days, if not months. The title track ends the album and it's a moody, semi-epic that haunts with a yearning, head-down attitude and galloping riffs. It's instrumental, save for sound clips. It's also cribbed from the 'Tallica play book.
Lyrics — 7
Erna writes for dudes but that doesn't mean the girls who like the rock will be offended by what he says. There's just a decidedly male bend to his declarations, but it's never alienating and that's probably why Godsmack have enjoyed such a measure of success throughout their career. They make music that radio isn't afraid to play. Yes, of course, "Cryin' Like a Bitch" will be an anthem for anyone who wants to tell off someone who gets in their way, while "Devils Swing" is totally fun to sing along to, thanks to its New Orleans-influenced sway. Erna's raspy vocals bark and bite. He's not too far removed from James Hetfield, but he's not copying off the Metallica throat. "Love Hate Sex Pain" isn't a S&M tune; I love the old fashioned fade out and piano coda of the song, but here, Erna's vocals really conjure up images of Alice in Chains and Jerry Cantrell, without sounding forced. "Forever Shamed" finds Erna asking questions about the beginning and end of life, sweat and regret. Not stuff we've never heard, but from a real place, no less. There's a reason that girls like Godsmack and a lot of that has to do with Erna's alpha male lyrics and delivery. He's also a devout Wiccan, which only adds to the intrigue, mystery and appeal. Overall, The Oracle is build up and release on all fronts.
Overall Impression — 7
Sometimes the biggest misstep a band can make is to try and veer to far from what earned it fans in the first place. Godsmack don't make such a folly with The Oracle. While consistency isn't always thrilling, it sure fits Godsmack. They make quality, well-constructed, four-minute rock songs that radio falls in love with. The best thing about The Oracle isn't that the band isn't writing for radio but the catchiness comes naturally. While Godsmack don't turn the corners and make any hard lefts or rights on The Oracle, they give fans what they want. The Oracle is another solid set. They may sound a lot like Alice in Chains and Metallica, but those are just influences.