Return to Godsmack


Oct. 02, 2006

Godsmack, Rob Zombie

By Erik Pedersen
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Irvine, Calif.
Saturday, Sept. 30

The bill reads like a logical pairing: dark lyrics, creepy images, metal mentality.

But while there certainly were some similarities, it was the differences that stood out. Zombie's ghoulish sideshow is all about entertainment by any means; Godsmack presents its music mostly straightforward and bare-bones. Zombie chats up and riles up the crowd; his counterpart Sully Erna generally doesn't.

But what sets these two acts farthest apart is beats per minute. Zombie's industrial-driven dance metal is designed to get crowds on their feet, pumping fists and bobbing knees. Godsmack often toils at a languid pace, with long instrumental passages more suited to slow head-nodding.

Even with Zombie's film career, it's easy to see why Godsmack headlined the five-week tour, which wrapped the following night. Its nu-metal has become old school, but with a slew of niche radio hits and three platinum albums – the current "IV" is gold and bowed at No. 1 in the spring – the Boston quartet was the real draw. While the early-arriving crowd enjoyed Zombie's audiovisual sensory assault -- after a loudly cheered opening set by Shinedown -- it was Godsmack's alternate rechanneling of Alice in Chains and Metallica that had them standing.

AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" blared on the PA as a preshow video played images of the Godsmack boys in various stages of work and play. While the film seemed to want to show what fun guys they are, their set mainly was all business. Tony Rambola played some ancient-metal leads between Erna's Layne Staley doom drones. The thick music was speckled with hints of Zeppelin, Sabbath and the occasional prog-rock jam; Rush was directly referenced twice.

Godsmack was sluggish on some of its hits, including "Keep Away" and, more noticeably, "Awake." But a 20-minute late-set run made the show. Alone onstage, Rambola played a stirring acoustic number, which was followed by the band's catchiest original, "Voodoo." Then Erna sat at a second drum kit and matched Shannon Larkin nearly mash-for-mash on a couple of numbers, including a medley of classic rock bookended by "Back in Black" and "Tom Sawyer." A memorable run in a solid hard-rock set.

Zombie's spectacle was a multimedia ensemble piece. He shunned spotlights while the crowd watched the B-movie horror fest on the many multiple-size screens. Images ranged from cartoonish (death rays, Herman Munster) to genuinely creepy (a twitching torture victim, a Manson Family album), with plenty of bare breasts. It's uncertain how all the happy mayhem affected the preteens in the audience. But they, like the rest of the crowd, were gainfully entertained.