The Other Side
A lot has already been said about Godsmack’s acoustic turn. Some have called it groundbreaking, suggesting that the band took quite a chance releasing something like this. I’m just not buying it. Godsmack is at the top of the heap commercially. At this point, they could have released an album full of TV theme songs or advertising jingles and had a platinum seller. As for groundbreaking, I suppose none of these critics remember Five Man Acoustical Jam, G ‘N R Lies, or that little show called MTV Unplugged.
No, there’s nothing groundbreaking or risky about The Other Side. However, taken on its own, it is an enjoyable album. I would like to hear more than seven songs — and a cover song or two as a tip of the hat to musical influences would also have been a treat — but even with these quibbles, the band manages to impress with the amps turned off. Sully Erna’s vocals, previously focused on screaming, come through as surprisingly layered when he gives us a peek at his range. The rest of the band are competent enough on the acoustic versions, but there is nothing really inventive or surprising here.
The three new tracks range from a depressingly down and repetitive opener (“Running Blind”) to an inoffensive placeholder (“Voices”). The keeper here is “Touché.” With members of Dropbox sitting in, this solid song in its own right has radio hit potential. The band drifts away from their grungy-metal roots here, and into a little psychedelic neo-Doors groove. The other four tracks are re-treads from their previous electric albums, with the original hit “Keep Away” faring the best. While it’s still the same riffs being run through, something about the acoustic milieu adds to the angst and intensity. For example, “Asleep” (the re-titled “Awake”) adds some piano to play off Erna’s vocals.
If you’ve never heard Godsmack (or haven’t liked what you have heard from them), but liked the flurry of unplugged albums in the ’90s, you might want to pick up this one. Conversely, if all you like about Godsmack is how heavy they play, then this one probably isn’t a keeper for you.