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Godsmack, ‘Live & Inspired’ – Album Review

Universal Music Group

I hope you’re satisfied, I’m alive,” states singer Sully Erna in the lyrics to Godsmack‘s hit single ‘Awake.’ Well, fans are now very satisfied that, after more than a decade of work, the band has released its first live album.

Godsmack’s ‘Live & Inspired’ is exactly what the title suggests. The band’s live show has been a top draw for years now and it’s in full focus thanks to a blistering performance at Detroit’s Fox Theater back in 2010. From the opening strains of a military gunfight and hovering helicopters leading into ‘Straight Outta Line,’ it’s clear that the crowd is in for a full-throttle attack.

Among the highlights of the live portion of the release are the solid guitar work from Tony Rombola mixed with the trudging bass of Robbie Merrill on ‘Realign,’ along with drummer Shannon Larkin showing off his skillful dexterity on ‘Awake’ and ‘The Enemy.’ Also noteworthy is Erna’s attitude-filled vocals and prowess as a frontman on ‘Keep Away’ and the live set closer ‘I Stand Alone.’ Plus, there’s the great percussive instrumental ‘Batalia De Los Tambores’ featuring Larkin and Erna exploring the bongos and just about everything they can hit.

But while the live set is what fans have been begging for, the covers portion is just the icing on the cake. Radio listeners have already picked up on Godsmack’s cover of the Joe Walsh classic ‘Rocky Mountain Way,’ with the slide guitar getting a little heavily-amped pick-me-up and Larkin hitting harder than the original. But ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ is just the beginning of an interesting selection of covers.

The highlight of this portion of the disc is Godsmack’s take on Pink Floyd’s ‘Time,’ staying faithful to Alan Parsons’ classic chiming clocks and alarms that open the song and delivering a very-close-to-the-original version of the classic. Of all the covers, Sully Erna’s voice may be closer to David Gilmour’s than any of the initial vocalists, and the affected vocals later in the track do justice to Richard Wright’s bridges.

As true as their cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’ is, the band take a little more leeway with ‘Come Together.’ It’s a grungier, harder rocking version than the original Beatles track or Aerosmith’s popular cover follow-up. But while they bring the heavy to the song, there’s still a nod to the original with Rombola’s guitar solo.

The group’s set-closing cover of Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is also a triumph, with the band relying more on the piano for their version and making the song more haunting and intimate than the original. It’s a perfect juxtaposition to finish the disc with the faintest of piano keys after how hard the rest of the album rocks, and the emotion within Erna’s voice packs more of a gut punch.

If you’ve never seen Godsmack in concert, ‘Live & Inspired’ (available at iTunes) should show you what you’ve been missing and get you out to a gig. And if you have seen them, then you’re probably already preparing for their participation in the Rock Star Energy Uproar Festival tour this summer.

4 Stars

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