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Album Review

After a four-year break—the longest in this Massachusetts metal band's 15-year career—Godsmack is back. But that hiatus hasn't blunted the band's popularity. Godsmack's fifth studio album, The Oracle, debuted at No. 1—its third consecutive chart-topper.

Nor has it smoothed the band's sound or lyrical focus. Frontman and lyricist Sully Erna continues to grind out grim odes to angst and isolation. And after some sonic experimentation on 2006's IV, the band has returned to the sound that put it on the map. Which is to say a somewhat generic-feeling post-grunge blend of Alice in Chains, Metallica and Black Sabbath.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

About the best you can say of Erna's outlook is that he's aware of his deep brokenness. "Will it ever end?/When will my life begin?/All this built-up pain forever plaguing me," he sings on "Forever Shamed." Rather than cave in to despair, however, he vows not to live in shame ("It's the last time that I'll be forever shamed") and recognizes his need for psychological salvation ("Save me from insanity").

Speaking of salvation, "War and Peace" articulates an internal conflict with the devil on one side and the possibility of redemption on the other ("Dance with the devil inside of me/I'm longing for a second chance"). He recognizes that "Hell awaits/It's closing in on me/It strokes its hand down on my back." He longs for release from the cycle of "war and peace inside my head," fearing it "will take me to the end."

Despite its provocative title, "Love-Hate-Sex-Pain" mostly just comments on life's maddening complexity after a failed relationship. Erna talks about the scars he's received ("It's taken me so long to stitch/These wounds from where I've been"), then pleads for reconciliation ("Mother, please don't bury me/I'm begging for life/ … Don't you leave me"). Spoken-word sound bites on "The Oracle" include the question, "What is reality?" and the ambiguous statement, "The deepest level of truth is the truth of unity."

Objectionable Content

If Erna seems engaged in a spiritual battle sometimes, elsewhere he's capitulated to the dark side. "Devil's Swing" captures a strong sense of spiritual bondage—then willingly submits to it: "I'm trying to find a way to keep it all/And satisfy the needs I'm craving/ … I'm living inside a dead lie/Controlled by the devil's eyes, and I don't mind."

"Saints and Sinners" says, "I'll shake my fist up to the sky/ … I'm one part saint, two parts sinner." "What If" ponders what life might be like if a man rejected his childhood faith. He talks of "a struggle deep within," but ultimately admits, "I lost my hope along the way." "Good Day to Die" finds a weary man concluding that today is exactly that.

"Cryin' Like a B‑‑ch," vulgarly reminds an adversary of his weakness. In addition to that track's profanities, "Devil's Swing" includes an s-word and four uses of "g‑‑d‑‑n."

Summary Advisory

Four years ago, Marcus Yoars and Bob Smithouser said of Godsmack's last album, " Once again, Godsmack growls cryptically about anguish, emptiness and pain. But instead of shaking a fist at the Lord on IV, they recognize dark personal hang-ups and reach out for help—even looking up at times. Profanity is the biggest spoiler here."

That description is equally applicable this time around—except that a bit of fist-shaking has crept back into the proceedings. Sully Erna and Co. recognize how lost they are. So lost they can't seem to locate the ladder out of the emotional pit they've been trapped in since 1995.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range









Debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's main album chart.

Record Label

Universal Republic




May 4, 2010

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

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