Sully Erna and his henchmen will light up your sky to the sound of their thrilling (but unfortunately) final studio album.
Produced and engineered by Andrew Mudrock, mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, and mixed by Dave Fortman, the excellent Lighting Up the Sky is not only the eight studio album by Boston, Massachusetts-based Alternative Rock/Metal titans Godsmack, released five years after their last studio album When Legends Rise (therefore making it the longest gap between two of their studio albums), but it’s also the final one by vocalist and guitarist Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Shannon Larkin. And let me tell you that if that’s it for Godsmack at least in terms of releasing new albums, they’re definitely going out with a bang.
Sully blasts his Moog synthesizer to generate a magical atmosphere in You and I, kicking off the album on a high note and delivering classy Hard Rock led by the groovy bass by Robbie, whereas Red White & Blue can be considered their tribute to their homeland, also presenting an amazing guitar job done by Sully and Tony, inspiring us all to raise our fists while Shannon smashes his drums in the best rockin’ way possible. In the first single of the album, the trademark Godsmack tune Surrender, we face their usual acid lyrics (“You’ve always told me / That you know me / But you don’t really know me at all / You just played me and betrayed me / And showed no sympathy at all”) amidst a pure Rock N’ Roll sound, and the quartet doesn’t let the energy level go down by offering more of their electrifying music in What About Me, showcasing another solid kitchen by Robbie and Shannon. And Sully takes care of all acoustic guitars, drums and keyboards in Truth, a beautiful ballad overflowing melancholy and passion.
Back to their more visceral mode we have Hell’s Not Dead, blending elements from Southern Rock and Metal to their core essence and sounding very catchy and vibrant. Needless to say, it will work perfectly if played live during their upcoming tour, while in Soul on Fire the lyrics couldn’t have been more Rock N’ Roll (“In the end / There will come a time my friend / I’m gonna break you wide open / I didn’t see this side unfolding / Hey, I can’t wait for you to make up your mind / I need to take you every time / I’m self destructing”), with the quartet once again kicking some ass with their incendiary sonic weapons in a lecture in modern-day rock music. Let’s Go is perhaps the most generic of all songs, including its instrumental parts and lyrics, albeit it still carries the band’s characteristic sonority in it, whereas exhaling the purest form of the music by Godsmack we can think of, Best of Times is a journey back in time to their early days led by the classic beats by Shannon and the piercing riffage by Tony. The second ballad from the album, titled Growing Old, sounds very introspective and dark thanks to another stylish performance by Sully not only on vocals but also on the piano; and closing the album we have the title-track Lighting Up the Sky, showcasing a fantastic stringed duo by Tony and Robbie, adding endless groove and harmony to the music. In other words, Godsmack definitely know how to hypnotize us with their catchy riffs and lyrics, and this is a really good example of that.
“We’ve enjoyed decades of doing this and we’ve sacrificed a lot of time. But the reality is – and I say this with zero ego – we’re at 27 top 10 (Mainstream Rock Airplay) singles, 12 No. 1s (including ‘Surrender’ from the new album). We could pull three or four more off this new record – it’s a strong record, we feel. That means we could do back-to-back nights in an arena, play 15 songs each night and never play the same single, let alone deep cuts. That’s a helluva place to get to…so you think, how much more do we need?,” commented the band about Lighting Up the Sky (and you can see more details about that HERE), which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify. Moreover, you can also start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram (if you don’t already do so), subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos, and of course purchase their thrilling new album by visiting their official website or by clicking HERE. The band already said that although this is their last studio album they’ll keep touring for the foreseeable future, but of course after listening to Lighting Up the Sky several times already I’ll surely miss new music by Godsmack. Well, at least I can always light up the sky to the sound of all of their creations, including their last and amazing album, right?
Best moments of the album: You and I, Red White & Blue, Soul on Fire and Lighting Up the Sky.
Worst moments of the album: Let’s Go.
Released in 2023 BMG
1. You and I 5:16
2. Red White & Blue 4:04
3. Surrender 3:40
4. What About Me 3:55
5. Truth 4:33
6. Hell’s Not Dead 4:50
7. Soul on Fire 4:05
8. Let’s Go 5:40
9. Best of Times 3:36
10. Growing Old 5:01
11. Lighting Up the Sky 4:46
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar, Moog synthesizer on “You and I”, acoustic guitars, drums and keyboards on “Truth”, backing vocals, organ and piano on “Growing Old”
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums