Concert Review – Godsmack & Volbeat (Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON, 05/10/2019)

And the city of Ottawa was more than ready to rumble with two of the best bands of the modern Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll scene.

OPENING ACT: Stitched Up Heart

Although my drive from Toronto to Ottawa on Thursday was a complete shit due to the nasty rain and all the trucks spraying tons of water on my windshield, that didn’t turn my energy level down not even a bit for the concert that was about to happen on Friday. I was really pumped to see what’s probably the best modern Rock N’ Roll bands available out there, the almighty Volbeat and the incendiary Godsmack, kicking some serious ass on stage at Richcraft Live (I honestly have no idea what that name means) at the Canadian Tire Centre. It was my first time at that venue and I must say it’s indeed a great place to watch a concert or a sports event, but unfortunately getting there is not that easy unless you drive, take a taxi or Uber to the venue, which ends up inflating the parking costs considerably.

Anyway, fans were still arriving at the venue when Los Angeles-based Hard Rock act STITCHED UP HEART began their short but effective performance, spearheaded by the beautiful Mixi on vocals. If you have no idea about what type of music Stitched Up Heart play, let’s say it’s a fusion of the contemporary Hard Rock played by Godsmack with Evanescence and Marilyn Manson, and the final result is very entertaining. It was a beyond solid warm-up for the main attractions of the night, and a very good welcome card from the band to us fans of rock music here in Canada, as I don’t actually remember seeing them anywhere around here before this tour opening for Volbeat and Godsmack. In other words, go to their official website for more information about the band, where they’re playing, where to buy their music, and so on, as those guys (and girl, of course) are definitely worth a shot.

Setlist
This Skin
Warrior
Catch Me When I Fall
Darkness
Straightjacket
Finally Free
Lost (feat. Sully Erna)

Band members
Mixi – vocals
Merritt – guitar
Randy – bass
Decker – drums 

VOLBEAT

After a short break, and with the Canadian Tire Centre already occupied by thousands of fans from different parts of Canada and the United States, it was time for Danish rockers VOLBEAT to bring to Ottawa their undisputed Rock N’ Roll infused with Heavy Metal nuances, proving once again that Copenhagen-based quartet is not one of the biggest names in the current Rock N’ Roll scene in vain. Still promoting their 2016 album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, but just about to release a brand new album (for our total delight), the band comprised of Michael Poulsen on vocals and rhythm guitar, Rob Caggiano on lead guitar, Kaspar Boye Larsen on bass, and Jon Larsen on drums set the venue on fire with their fast and melodic riffs and beats, and of course, endless electricity (despite the fact that Mr. Poulsen was visibly fighting some sort of cold or flu).

From the first few notes from the excellent The Devil’s Bleeding Crown to the closing moments from the already classic Still Counting, Volbeat delivered what’s expected from them, inspiring all fans from the floor section to ignite some fun (and furious) circle pits, especially during their most metallic songs such as A Warrior’s Call, 16 Dollars, Doc Holliday and Seal the Deal. Also, I think I’ve already mentioned this before, but it’s always impressive to witness how powerful and precise Mr. Caggiano is on the guitar, elevating the band’s sonority to new heights since entering the band in 2013. In addition, one song that I was extremely happy they played was Hallelujah Goat, one of my favorite Volbeat songs of all time due to its energy and heaviness, potentialized by Rob’s amazing technique and feeling. And before I forget, the band also played a brand new song for the first time ever in Ottawa, the 40-second Punk Rock tune Parasite, which albeit being extremely short it was well received by all fans who were paying attention at the moment, because you know, 40 seconds are not enough not even for a quick bathroom break. In a nutshell, I know that I just saw Volbeat live and that I’ll see them again with Slipknot, Gojira and Behemoth soon here in Toronto, but they’re so good live I cannot wait, and besides, their concerts are never long enough for them to play all of their classics.

Setlist
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue (with Ring of Fire intro)
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Let It Burn
Black Rose
Parasite
16 Dollars
Dead but Rising
Fallen
Hallelujah Goat
Marie Laveau
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

GODSMACK

It was close to 9:45pm when the lights went out, a fun mashup of classic rock songs started playing from the amps, and finally GODSMACK hit the stage with their unique mix of Alternative Rock and Heavy Metal. I confess I don’t think their 2018 album When Legends Rise is one of their best efforts to date; quite the contrary, it’s relatively weak compared for example to their previous album, the fantastic 1000hp, released in 2014, but Sully Erna and his henchmen are so amazing in what they do they managed to turn all of the songs they played from their new album, those being When Legends Rise, Say My Name, Unforgettable, Under Your Scars and Bulletproof, into truly amazing moments of their performance. By the way, as explained by Sully during the concert, inspired by their own song Under Your Scars, Godsmack have recently founded The Scars Foundation to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many are faced with today. Needless to say, donate and show your support to such important and noble cause.

Getting back to the concert, I have to say that even if they played bad music the whole thing would still have been at least great, as all the fire and other special effects on stage added a lot of energy to their performance. But, of course, Godsmack do not play bad music, and fantastic songs like 1000hp (my favorite of the night), Cryin’ Like a Bitch and Whatever put a huge smile on the faces of every single fan watching their concert. Furthermore, there were three very distinct moments that let’s say “surprised” most fans due to their uniqueness, those being their dark and enthralling performance of their all-time hit Voodoo, the interesting Batalla De Los Tambores (or “battle of the drums”, if you know nothing in Spanish) between Sully and the extremely talented drummer Shannon Larkin, and the Rock N’ Roll party established on stage when Rob Caggiano and the entire Stitched Up Heart joined them on stage for a cover version of AC/DC’s classic Highway to Hell.

In the end, after Godsmack played their heavier-than-hell hit I Stand Alone, all fans left the Canadian Tire Centre extremely satisfied, hoping the band doesn’t take another abysmal time to return to Canadian soil. On the other hand, if you live in Canada and missed Godsmack, I feel really sorry for your soul. A band like that is always busy, always touring the world, and they don’t have a lot of empty spot to fill out with Canadian dates. Well, don’t cry like a bitch if you missed it, simply stay tuned to their upcoming tours and do like the rockin’ citizens from Ottawa, whenever you hear the words “Volbeat” or “Godsmack”, put on your black shirt, you leather jacket and get ready to rumble like there’s no tomorrow with one of the best and most electrifying bands of the not-so-new generation of rock and metal music.

Setlist
When Legends Rise
1000hp
Say My Name
Keep Away (Moon Baby Outro)
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Awake
Unforgettable
Something Different
Voodoo
Batalla De Los Tambores
Whatever

Encore:
Under Your Scars
Bulletproof
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)
I Stand Alone

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

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Album Review – Godsmack / When Legends Rise (2018)

A rollercoaster of good and bad moments in the band’s first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound.

Almost four years after the release of the incendiary 1000hp, American Alternative Rock/Metal icons Godsmack are back in action with When Legends Rise, the seventh studio album in their solid career, and their first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound. And when I say “exaggeratedly radio-friendly” I’m not exaggerating (not sure if I’m allowed to use that word and its variations so many times in just a couple of lines), because not only When Legends Rise doesn’t bring the same horsepower, rage and heaviness of 1000hp, but it sounds and feels way too mellow and generic compared to everything they’ve already released since their inception.

As early as 2015, frontman and guitarist Sully Erna spoke of his will to create a new sound for Godsmack in their next album, later describing the album in 2017 as a “reinvention” for the band, as a “new chapter” juxtaposed against older albums, of which he described as “vintage classic Godsmack”. Let’s say he succeeded and failed miserably at the same time, because it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of the band or if you’ve never heard of them before, as soon as you finish listening to the 11 tracks in When Legends Rise you won’t be able to tell if it was a good or bad experience so many highs and lows the entire album has. As a matter of fact, I guess if you follow Godsmack from the very beginning, the lowest moments of the album will make you feel extremely disappointed with this “new direction” chosen by Sully and his henchmen.

The tribal-like beats by Shannon Larkin kick off the best and most metal song of the entire album, the title-track When Legends Rise, which despite not being a masterpiece, it’s indeed a catchy and entertaining song led by the unique vocals by Sully, sounding as radio-friendly as the band wants but still bringing some of their old school aggressiveness. Then we have Bulletproof (if you’re a regular radio listener you might have heard it a billion times already), which is not that bad but with potential to be a lot better (and by that I mean heavier), with bassist Robbie Merrill doing a very good job in keeping the atmosphere dense and rumbling; followed by Unforgettable, probably the cheesiest song ever written by Godsmack, sounding way too happy for my taste and with the support choir by The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir being plain boring. Well, as I’ve mentioned a thousand times in this webzine, I hate generic choirs.

Every Part of Me presents hints of the sounding from their early days, especially through the melodious guitar lines by Tony Rombola, resulting in a very decent song that reminds us all of the potential Godsmack is throwing away by trying to sound more mainstream than they should, while Take It to the Edge sounds quite similar to its predecessor, but with heavier and more piercing guitar and bass lines. Furthermore, it’s good to hear Sully screaming and sounding a little angrier, and albeit this is not their classic Alternative Metal it can be considered something like a well-crafted version of modern-day Hard Rock. After that interesting sequence of heavy tunes the band offers us the ballad Under Your Scars, and although I’ve complained about almost every song so far I must admit this is indeed a good one, mainly due to the beautiful job done by guest violinist Zvezdelina Haltakova and guest cellist Irina Chirkova. And in Someday, after a not-so-exciting start the music evolves to a harder but still generic sonority that goes on for too long, ruining what could have been a good Hard Rock song. In addition, a weak song such as this would have benefited a lot from a guitar solo, something the whole album lacks by the way, and something that really started to bother me after a few listens.

And the “genericism” found in When Legends Rise goes on in Just One Time, even with Robbie and Shannon bringing some decent groove to the music, saving it from being a total failure. Then we have the excellent Say My Name, proving that when Sully and his crew speed up their pace and deliver stronger, more austere lyrics, they sound a billion times better. Hence, together with the opening track, this is by far one of the best songs of the album, presenting flammable Rock N’ Roll guitar riffs and rhythmic beats, which unfortunately cannot be said about Let It Out, another so-so creation alternating between heavier moments and very bland passages. It might once again sound good on the radio for the average listener, but definitely not for Rock N’ Roll fans, with the biggest issue for me being that the sound of both guitars is really low, or even worse, almost nonexistent. Furthermore, what’s also very irritating in the entire album is that there are moments like the closing song Eye of the Storm where a very promising start morphs into tasteless rock music; however, the more aggressive pieces of the song save it from total damnation, not to mention that we finally have a guitar solo added to it.

In the end, after When Legends Rise (available for a full listen on Spotify), we have to agree with this article from the online publication The Top Tens listing Godsmack as one of the top 10 bands that aren’t metal according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, together with names such as Avenged Sevelfold, Disturbed, Korn and Rage Against The Machine, but at least those bands still deliver a significant amount of rage and rebelliousness through their music, as opposed to what Godsmack (unfortunately) did in their new album. And if that toned-down version of Hard Rock is the direction Sully Erna really wants to take from now on with his band to reach a “broader audience”, well, good luck with that. I’ll personally stick to their more vibrant material from Godsmack, Awake and 1000hp.

Best moments of the album: When Legends Rise, Take It to the Edge and Say My Name.

Worst moments of the album: Bulletproof, Unforgettable, Someday and Let It Out.

Released in 2018 Universal Music

Track listing
1. When Legends Rise 2:52
2. Bulletproof 2:57
3. Unforgettable 3:28
4. Every Part of Me 3:20
5. Take It to the Edge 3:15
6. Under Your Scars 3:51
7. Someday 4:44
8. Just One Time 3:09
9. Say My Name 3:38
10. Let It Out 3:41
11. Eye of the Storm 3:21

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

Guest musicians
Zvezdelina Haltakova – violin on “Under Your Scars”
Irina Chirkova – cello on “Under Your Scars”
The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir – additional vocals on “Unforgettable”

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014

“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!” – Aleister Crowley, Moonchild

It’s with these inspiring words found in the occult novel Moonchild, written by British occultist, poet and novelist Aleister Crowley in 1917, that The Headbanging Moose reaches another year end. Well, not before celebrating heavy music, which is the essence of this webzine, right? In order to honour all metal bands and musicians who made our year a lot more fun, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014, excluding of course EP’s, best of and live albums. Party on, dudes!

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-12801. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are finally back with another marvellous sonic storm forged in the fires of pure Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Halls Of Valhalla

Primalfeardeliveringtheblack20142. Primal Fear – Delivering the Black (REVIEW)
Primal Fear once again deliver the awesome with their tenth studio album, their best since Seven Seals.
Best song of the album: King For A Day

Triptykon-Melana-Chasmata3. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (REVIEW)
One of the most expected albums of 2014 is a beautiful mix of Gothic, Black and especially Doom Metal as grandiose as they can be.
Best song of the album: Boleskine House

ExodusBloodInBloodOut4. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out (REVIEW)
American Thrash Metal masters deliver us another great lesson in Thrash Metal. Welcome back to the family, Zetro!
Best song of the album: Blood In, Blood Out

Cover5. Axel Rudi Pell – Into the Storm (REVIEW)
A fantastic “storm” of heavy riffs and solos by one of the best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal guitar players from Germany.
Best song of the album: Burning Chains

accept-blind rage6. Accept – Blind Rage (REVIEW)
And we salute Accept for another wonderful metal album, the third installment in this new amazing Accept-era.
Best song of the album: Dying Breed

ESCAPETOR - Fear cover art7. Escapetor – Fear (REVIEW)
A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.
Best song of the album: The Queen

vandenplas_chronicles8. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld (REVIEW)
Get ready for an amazing journey in this new Rock Opera Album.
Best song of the album: The King and the Children of Lost World

godsmack_1000hp9. Godsmack – 1000hp (REVIEW)
Lots of horsepower, groove, great riffs and strong vocal lines are just some of the things you’ll find in this amazing rock album.
Best song of the album: 1000hp

10. Phantom – …Of Gods and Men (REVIEW)
With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.
Best song of the album: Blood & Iron

And here we have the runner-ups completing the top 20:

11. Behemoth – The Satanist (REVIEW)
12. Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain (REVIEW)
13. Humbucker – King of the World (REVIEW)
14. Insomnium – Shadows Of The Dying Sun (REVIEW)
15. Crucified Barbara – In The Red (REVIEW)
16. Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead (REVIEW)
17. Motorjesus – Electric Revelation (REVIEW)
18. Lordi – Scare Force One (REVIEW)
19. Dimenzion:Psychosphere – Collapse (REVIEW)
20. Anti-Mortem – New Southern (REVIEW)

One of our recent reviews mentioned the law of conservation of mass by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, which states that “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”  With that said, why not innovating a little and listing the Top 10 Cover Songs of 2014? Because in the end it’s metal bands working towards the conservation of heavy music. Let me tell you all those cover versions are amazing, but the first two go beyond that, they’re just perfect.

1. Axel Rudi Pell – Hey Hey My My (Neil Young cover)
2. Escapetor – Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
3. Iron Savior – Dance With Somebody (Mando Diao cover)
4. Van Canto – The Final Countdown (Europe cover)
5. Ektomorf – I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover)
6. Anti-Mortem – A Little Too Loose (Mr. Big Cover)
7. Endzeit – The Dawn No More Rises (Dark Funeral cover)
8. Axel Rudi Pell – Way to Mandalay (Blackmore’s Night cover)
9. Humbucker – Wine, Women An’ Song (Whitesnake cover)
10. Exodus – Angel Of Death (Angel Witch cover)

Also, in 2014 we were able to witness so many impressive releases from new and not so new independent bands (or at least not signed to major record labels) such as Orisonata, SouLost, GoatchristValknacht, Ann My Guard, Septekh, Way Of Changes, Henriette BMisanthrope Monarch, Witches Of Doom, Phobiatic, Prayed and Betrayed, Temple Of Void, Maahlas, Laugh At The Fakes, Lelahell, Diablery, Humbucker, Phantom, No Sin Evades His Gaze, Endzeit, among tons of other awesome bands and artists, it’s hard to name just a few. They’re indeed a huge slap to the face of those idiots who keep saying heavy music is dead and gone. Just Google those bands or search for them here at The Headbanging Moose and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some of them even made it to the top10/20 list, as you can see.

You can check The Headbanging Moose’s playlist Top 10 Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums of 2014 @ Songza, with the best songs from each band of the list above, as well as amazing songs from lots of independent bands who rocked the world in 2014. And, of course, do not forget to listen to the weekly episodes of The Metal Moose Show by the Metal Moose Radio. Support you local bands… AND FOLLOW THE MOOSE!

And last but not least, before the Headbanging Moose goes into “hibernation” until the beginning of 2015, I’ll leave you guys with a song that’s way better than any of that Christmas garbage shoved down our throats every fuckin’ year. This song says it all.

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2015!

Album Review – Godsmack / 1000hp (2014)

Lots of horsepower, groove, great riffs and strong vocal lines are just some of the things you’ll find in the amazing new album by Sully Erna and his bandmates.

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godsmack_1000hpAmerican Alternative Metal/Rock icons Godsmack have always split opinions among headbangers all over the world in regards to their music: are they heavy enough to stay away from the abhorrent Pop Music world, or too soft to be included in the select group of Heavy Metal giants such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and Megadeth? Well, although I’ve never been a huge fan of the band, I’ve always enjoyed the musicality produced by Sully Erna and his crew, considering them a band that is able to combine the “best of both worlds” and deliver their fans lots of memorable heavy music anthems.

Maybe the biggest issue with Godsmack is the fact they do not regularly release new albums: since their beginnings in 1998, they have launched only six studio albums (including their brilliant self-titled debut album), which is not a lot taking into account they have almost 20 years of existence. However, when they do release new material, it usually kicks fuckin’ ass, which is the case with their brand new album 1000hp, the sixth in their career. It might have taken them almost four years to launch the follow up to their 2010 gold-selling album The Oracle, but as I said it was worth the wait.

All the energy (or maybe I should say all the “horsepower”) fans have been eagerly expecting for the past four years is already found in the title-track, 1000hp, a song that translates the legacy of Godsmack into modern and thrilling Hard Rock, with powerful riffs, outstanding vocals and a chorus that truly credits it to become a Rock N’ Roll radio hit without any doubt. Add to that the following track, the also excellent FML (an acronym for “Fuck My Life”), and you’ll start getting addicted to this album: this is the type of song you know it’s Godsmack, with all those heavy riffs we learned to love since their early days.

Although Something Different, an alternative track that flirts with more contemporary rock music, doesn’t keep up with the same level of electricity from the previous tracks (especially due to its generic lyrics), everything gets back on track with What’s Next?, an excellent track that will sound amazing on their live performances and that seems to be extracted from their debut album thanks to its raw sonority, with highlights to the drumming dictating its pleasant rhythm.

godsmackGeneration Day showcases a more experimental Godsmack in terms of the sound each band member can take from their respective instruments, with kudos to guitarist Tony Rombola for the excellent groovy guitar solo in the middle, while Locked & Loaded couldn’t be more awesome than that: it’s pure Southern Rock totally inspired by Sully Erna’s never-ending feud with Mötley Crüe’s bassist Nikki Sixx, which is the reason why it’s track number SIX, got it? Honestly, those two should have a match at Wrestlemania or at least at SummerSlam one day, that would be really fun.

Then we have Living in the Gray, a song with hints of Alice In Chains and a very repetitive chorus, which fortunately doesn’t turn it into a bad song, and I Don’t Belong, a very traditional Godsmack tune which kind of continues where the previous song ended, with Sully’s great vocal performance enhancing its overall quality. And closing the album, Godsmack offer us Nothing Comes Easy, which despite having one of the heaviest riffs of the whole album ends up being too experimental and could have been a lot better if a little shorter, and the melancholic, intense and addictive semi-acoustic track Turning to Stone, some kind of “Voodoo 2.0” which will feature on The Walking Dead’s compilation Songs of Survival Volume 2, and by that you can imagine how good this song is, right?

And what about the album art, which perfectly matches its title, featuring of course the band’s traditional sun logo and a classic car emerging from the flames? Albeit quite simple, it’s totally effective, just as the whole album is. 1000hp might not be a masterpiece nor the most creative album in the world, but it’s a superb collection of kick-ass Hard Rock tunes that will surely please all Godsmack fans, from the most diehard to the new ones, and provide some very good moments to everyone attending their live concerts, enjoying a road trip, having a party or simply relaxing headbanging alone at home. I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone in the band wanted when they recorded 1000hp.

Best moments of the album: 1000hp, FML, Locked & Loaded and Turning to Stone.

Worst moments of the album: Something Different and Nothing Comes Easy.

Released in 2014 Universal Music

Track listing
1. 1000hp 3:47
2. FML 3:38
3. Something Different 4:42
4. What’s Next? 4:20
5. Generation Day 6:11
6. Locked & Loaded 4:12
7. Living in the Gray 4:07
8. I Don’t Belong 3:33
9. Nothing Comes Easy 5:38
10. Turning to Stone 5:16

Band members
Sully Erna – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar, backing vocals
Robbie Merrill – bass guitar
Shannon Larkin – drums, percussion