IV

Studio Album by released in 2006

IV review

For the first time, singer Sully Erna stepped up as the album's producer

Godsmack has come a long way since the early days, when the Boston-based quartet recorded its debut for less than the cost of most used cars. Released in 1997, that self-titled album sold 3 1/2 million copies and established the band as a serious hard-rock contender. The band's next two albums of heavy metal-flavored modern rock also went platinum. With its fan base established, the quartet seemed poised to effortlessly churn out best-selling records, land plum-opening slots for bands like Metallica, and sell out shows worldwide. Instead, the rockers decided to dig deeper for their fourth studio album, IV. This time out, they took more time and space in the studio, rather than rushing to accommodate tour demands or label deadlines. They wrote 35 songs and picked the best 17 to record. For the first time, singer Sully Erna took greater control and stepped up as the album's producer. At the same time, he included his bandmates, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill, and drummer Shannon Larkin, in songwriting more than ever before. And while the 11 tracks that finally made it onto the album don't stray from the band's hard-rock roots, they do show off a broader range of influences and moments of greater subtlety.

There's plenty of fist-pumping, head-banging hard rock on IV

Crunching distortion, snaky riffs, and thunderous rhythms make up the bulk of the sound on IV, while Sully Erna’s gruff, sometimes drone-oriented singing creates an evocative counter-balance. But while IV may not overflow with musical reinvention, it boasts the strongest batch of songs the band has written since their debut. Album opener Livin’ in Sin is a bluesy rock ballad on which Erna's desperate wail brings to mind grunge-era howlers like Layne Staley of Alice in Chains. There's plenty of fist-pumping, head-banging hard rock as well, like the first single, Speak, with its sinuous bass line and snarling vocals, and the raw, righteous swagger of No Rest for the Wicked. Some of the album’ bombastic rockers, like The Enemy and Temptation, sound too much like retread versions of the past decade’s radio-friendly hard rock to be convincing as fresh confessions. But the band does successfully shake things up with Hollow, which recalls Led Zeppelin with its delicate mandolin and acoustic guitar, and the psychedelic menace of Voodoo Too. Godsmack shows off a few new tricks while delivering more of the epic hard rock its fans have come to know and love.

Godsmack has managed to stay at the top of the alternative metal heap for nearly eight years

Godsmack may never garner the kind of praise that's bestowed upon its influences (Metallica, Alice in Chains, Tool) but the hard-working Boston quartet has managed to stay at the top of the alternative metal heap for nearly eight years. Following up a smash debut album can be a challenge for any artist, but Godsmack make it look like just another day at the office. With IV, Godsmack stick with their catchy hard rock formula in order to bring you another round of melodic rock to soundtrack your extreme (or wannabe extreme) lifestyle. But the album’s sound differs from the other Godsmack records. The guitars are more along the heavy line. The drums are kicked into high gear and Sully Erna brings out more of a range in his voice. The lyrics were written by the whole band this time, not just Sully. So you see more of a musical appearance and less metal. Some of the lyrics are very dark, as in songs like Livin' In Sin, The Enemy, Teptation and No Rest for the Wicked, yet the album feels new in its own right and it's awesome to say the least. Fans looking for more of the well-crafted, bone-rattling sound Godsmack offered on previous albums will be wholly satisfied with IV.