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Deseret Morning News, Saturday, November 11, 2006

Godsmack blows minds of rock fans

By Scott Iwasaki
Deseret Morning News

GODSMACK, BREAKING BENJAMIN, HOURCAST, E Center, West Valley City, Thursday

WEST VALLEY CITY — A Salt Lake-area rock audience was blown away Thursday night. The band that created the storm was Godsmack.


The Boston-based band hit the stage after a boring set by Hourcast and a worthy primer by Breaking Benjamin.


Anticipation mounted as the backdrop video screen flashed candid moving images of the band to AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)." The video went live backstage and followed Godsmack to the E Center stage.


Vocalist Sully Erna, bassist Robbie Merrill, guitarist Tony Rombola and drummer Shannon Larkin fired up their set with the heavy-hitting "Straight Out of Line." "Speak" and the sing-a-long rocker "The Enemy," both from the new album "IV," were received with enthusiasm as the band pounded out its set.


The charismatic Erna, who had battled addiction and writer's block while recording the album, never looked better. He was lean and clean, which made him appear comfortable with his role as a rock-band front man.


Merrill's easygoing attitude was the perfect foil for his ground-shaking bass and Rombola's ear-piercing leads and solos colored and gave character to each song.


Larkin's syncopation laid down some heavy rhythms during "Livin' In Sin," "Moon Baby" and "Re Align." But it was during the primal and ritualistic "Voodoo" where Larkin was really able to shine.


A short while later, Erna emerged on a percussion-and-drum platform and did a rousing duet with Larkin. Energetic renditions of "Keep Away," "Whatever," "Shine Down" and "I Stand Alone" rounded out the set, which also featured sing-a-long versions of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," and condensed covers of AC/DC's "Back in Black," Jethro Tull's "Aqualung," Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" and Rush's "Tom Sawyer."


The surprise of the night was the inclusion of the gothic instrumental "Vampires." To add atmosphere, videos of "Dracula," "Salem's Lot" and "Dark Shadows" crawled along the backdrop.


All was loud and all ended well.