After decades, Godsmack has softened their style

On April 10, I had the privilege of seeing Boston-based hard rock band Godsmack at the Youtube Theater. However, this was not their standard show, as frontman Sully Erna highlighted that the show was meant to be more intimate. There were candles placed all over the band’s equipment that lit up as the band walked out on stage (I assume that they weren’t real flames), and the screen showed a graphic which depicted a clock counting down. It was accompanied by tense audio, which rang right before the band began their first song.

The band had made a name for themselves over the past three decades
by writing aggressive sounding songs with antisocial themes. This meant that, as an audience member, their new approach was all the more interesting, as the show was not at all what I was expecting.

The band’s setlist was primarily made up of ballads, and the
band played several covers. In addition, they also brought in a
pianist and a second guitarist in order to boost their sound.
In the middle of the show, Sully Erna gave a speech about
why he loves music so much and what music means to him.
He discussed how he believes that there is nothing else in
the world like music and how he was amazed that something
so simple could bring so much joy into the world. That is what
made the show unique, as this show was explicitly focused on the music, rather than the event. This focus was evident with some of the covers they played, such as the band’s cover of Metallica’s 1991 ballad Nothing Else Matters.

Erna highlighted that most of the concerts are typically focused entirely on the spectacle and on being as loud and energetic as possible, with the band playing in a far more aggressive style. Godsmack was able to cultivate a following in the late 90s and early 2000s due to their aggressive sound and low-effort style. They gained many fans with their antisocial-sounding lyrics in songs like Whatever and Keep Away. However, the band took a different turn with their 2018 album, When Legends Rise, which had a softer sound. They continued on this path with 2023’s Lighting up the Sky. On these more recent albums, they focused more on melodies and the hooks of their songs rather than raw
energy and aggression, which had defined their sound since the release of their 1998 debut. The songs on these releases were more mellow and thus accessible to a wider audience. (However, in this case, the band was playing at a smaller venue, so the audience was much smaller.) While I personally prefer Godsmack’s original and more raw sound that their previous albums had, I do enjoy some of their newer songs, such as Bulletproof, which comes off of When Legends Rise, as well as the album’s title track.

Even though the band decided to play a setlist of mostly ballads, many of their classic songs still fell under this category. I was still able to recognize some of the classic songs that they played, like 1998’s Voodoo and Serenity, which came off of their 2003 album, Faceless.

Overall, I felt that it was somewhat disappointing that the
band did not play many of their greatest hits from the past, but the new
direction that the band is going in is a fascinating one, and the show
that they put on was quite interesting and enjoyable. I was expecting
the show to be purely loud and energetic, but I ended up seeing something different. What I saw was a band who, after nearly three decades, was still seeking to branch out and try new things. Godsmack wanted to expand their range. They did not want to be known as a band that just has one sound or does one style. They wanted to do more. At this time, it seems that the band has succeeded in achieving that goal.