PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Godsmack: The Other Side

Adrien Begrand

Godsmack

The Other Side

Label: Universal
US Release Date: 2004-03-16
UK Release Date: 2004-03-22
Amazon
iTunes

It's no secret that Godsmack has made a pretty good living by ripping off Alice in Chains. They named their band after a song off the Dirt album. Singer Sully Erna perfectly mimics the late Layne Staley's low, guttural, sinister singing and snarly, metal-inspired growls. The band's music is a faithful retread of Jerry Cantrell's churning, tuned-down hard rock, which, when you look back, was always more metal than grunge. When you look at and listen to Godsmack, there is not a trace of originality, not a lick.

Funny, though, how a band like that can not only put out three commercially successful albums and build up a devoted fan base, but actually manage to sound half decent, all the while just churning out the same cookie-cutter hard rock time after time. The thing is, Godsmack do their Alice in Chains imitation extremely well at times, and despite the fact that they have never put out a truly great album, there's always one or two songs of theirs that always sticks in your head, be it the slinky "Voodoo", "Awake" (the best Metallica song that Metallica never recorded), or the thunderous, wonderfully lunkheaded "I Stand Alone", the theme song from the equally wonderfully lunkheaded movie The Scorpion King. The band's best songs have muscular riffs, passable headbanging rhythms, and most importantly, memorable melodies. Over the years, Godsmack have also turned into a very good live act, the intensity of their music working well in a live setting, and Erna really showing he's one of the better hard rock frontmen out there. The music is no-frills, but Godsmack is earnest, and sometimes a band's passion can make up somewhat for their musical limitations.

Godsmack are so earnest, in fact, that they want to prove they're not just another dumb loud rock band, so they've released a new seven-track, 30-minute CD of acoustic songs, which, not so coincidentally, is what Alice in Chains did on their terrific Jar of Flies EP back 10 years ago. On this new CD, entitled The Other Side, Godsmack give their fans a little treat by sitting back, taking out the old acoustic guitars, dusting off the bongo drums, and unveiling three new compositions, as well as four wussy (oops, I mean "mellower") interpretations of some well-known live favorites.

The new songs are an expectedly bumpy ride, sometimes sounding adequate, sometimes sputtering. "Running Blind" employs yet another Alice in Chains tactic, that being the overdubed combination of lower register and upper register vocals, and the lyrics are typically morose ("I can't find the answers/ I've been crawling on my knees/ Looking for anything/To keep me from drowning"), but overall, it's not altogether unpleasant. "Touche", despite shamelessly flaunting a guest appearance by members of Dropbox, a recent signing to Erna's new record label, is a good combination of grunge and Southern rock; "Voices", though, is little more than a limp, dull performance. As for the older songs, they're pretty much what you'd expect, as "Re-Align" (from 2003's Faceless), "Spiral" (from 2000's Awake), and "Keep Away" (from the 1997 eponymous debut) bear little difference from the original versions, the band plowing away with the same riffs, only on acoustic guitars. Only on the remake of the 2000 hit "Awake", facetiously re-named "Asleep" here, does the band actually begin to show some creativity in their arrangements. The effect is haunting and desolate, as forlorn strains of piano echo Erna's quavering vocals.

Unfortunately, that little burst of creativity is the one high point, as the rest of The Other Side plays it too safely. The overall effect is much like Pearl Jam's very underwhelming, uninspired 1992 performance on MTV's Unplugged, a merely brief curiosity for fans. In these dark, dark days of Nickelback, Finger Eleven, and Linkin Park, Godsmack, while sticking dutifully to their formula, have been able to tread the line between maudlin, sappy post-grunge and brainless, antisocial nu-metal with surprising success. On this CD, though, Godsmack means well, their hearts are in the right places, and it's good of them to try to give their fans a temporary change from the usual fare, but everyone knows that this band is at their best when they're simply a good Big Dumb Rock Band.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.