When a major label debut album goes multi-platinum and garners radio play from five of its singles, expectations are extraordinarily high for the follow-up. Much is the case with Godsmack's sophomore effort Awake.
Instead of changing the band's music and style in preparation for critics, Godsmack stays on the same beaten path that launched them into the mainstream.
What results is an excellent continuation of the heavy sound, slick production techniques and dark lyrics that push the album well past expectations.
Awake, produced in part by lead singer Sully Erna, screams of Alice in Chains and Black Sabbath, blending robust guitar riffs and deep bass rhythms into a hard-charging emotional work. Erna, who also wrote all the lyrics and the majority of the music, emotes tales of lost love and confusion through his decrepit, soul-searching lyrics.
"Awake," the first single to be released on radio, is obviously rooted deeply inside Erna. The song, typical of the band, is ambiguous about its subject but very obvious about its theme - pain, overcoming pain and subjecting others to that same pain.
Much like its self-titled, major-label debut, Godsmack gives ample testimony to typical personal themes of love and friendship while touching on social issues such as religion and abortion. Although these themes are tired and over-played on the radio, Godsmack hurls them at the audience in a way that makes it impossible to dismiss.
For metal fans, Awake is a true throw-back to times when turntables and guitars were mortal enemies. The album incorporates the purity of heavy-metal, incorporating fast-paced and robust guitar riffs, spit-fire drum beats and lyrics that could make any religious person question his faith.