New Music Mondays: Godsmack, Steel Panther and More!

A big week of new music this week with a bit of everything! Let’s waste no time and jump right in!

Godsmack: Lighting up the Sky

The nu metal/radio rock band’s final full length album, according to frontman Sully Erna, dropped on Friday. I’ve been a pretty big fan of the band since first hearing their music in The Scorpion King as a child, despite the somewhat mixed reception they’ve had in recent years. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every album they’ve put out, though some more than others. Either way, I’ve been excited for this one for a while.

I mean, it was a’ight. Single ‘You and I’ is one of the worst album openers I’ve heard in a while. It’s not an inherently bad song, but a mid-tempo, blues stomper by a band typically heavier and more attitude-filled wasn’t the right call to open with. Following track ‘Red, White & Blue’ would have made a lot better an opener. The lyrics are a tad cringy for a non-American, but it’s a definite highlight of the album non the less. Lead single ‘Surrender’ is a pretty decent track too!

However, the later the album went on, the more tired it felt. ‘Truth’ was a beautiful, piano-led ballad that’s another highlight, but a lot of the rest felt like typical, formulaic Godsmack. Tracks like ‘Hell’s Not Dead’ and ‘Let’s Go’ are fun, but none of it felt fresh or new at all. I loved their last couple of albums but this is easily their weakest since The Oracle or even IV. There are some good tracks on this but it’s not as solid an album as I’m used to from the band. It’s all pretty slow and tired. Part of me hopes they do one more to go out with a bang, but then another part hopes they finish with just a little gas left in the tank. 6.5/10, though that may go up as it feels a little harsh.

Steel Panther: On the Prowl

Sorry fanthers, but this is probably going to be harsh too. It’s no secret that the joke wore out its welcome quite a while ago, and I even tried to cling on longer than most. All You Can Eat was pushing it but still had some great tracks, while everything after that has just made me cringe. It isn’t even the fact that it’s immature, but that the writing has gotten much more on-the-nose and far less clever. Compare the lyrics of ‘Friends with Benefits’ to something like ‘Community Property’ or ‘Turn Out the Lights’ and the writing really feels like it’s taken a hit. It’s the most basic toilet and sex humour now, there’s not even the slight nuance that the first couple of albums had.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. ‘On Your Instagram’ is an entertaining ballad that felt surprisingly cleverly written. And I agree with the general consensus that ‘1987’ is the best thing the band have released in years. When they’re not trying to push crass innuendos into every line, their talent shines through a lot more. Everything else felt cheep and boring after almost a decade and a half of the same shit. And it’s a shame too, as Satchel and Styxx are both phenomenal players that feel a little wasted in the band.

I found myself getting bored quick after ‘1987’, and for that reason I can’t give it any more than 4/10

Lovebites: JUDGEMENT DAY

The Japanese metal women are ready to take the whole world by storm with their fourth album. Right out of the gate the band slaps you with some insane power/thrash in the form of ‘We Are the Resurrection’ and the band don’t let up once from that point. The band are all unbelievably talented at what they do, with all of them working their asses off in every track.

Don’t get me wrong, the vocals aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, but I enjoyed them enough that they didn’t ruin the songs. My only ever so slight gripe is that they really do go balls to the wall for close to an hour. It would have been nice to have had a slightly slower track in the middle somewhere to break up the pace and show some diversity. Still, it’s filled with awesome tracks and gets an easy 8/10 from us!

Dierks Bentley: Gravel & Gold

Country time again! I forgot quite how long Dierks had been going until typing up this article, his first release coming back in ’03 and this being his 10th. Almost all of his work is fantastic, too.

This was no exception. After the radio-country-rock hit the album opens on with ‘Same Ol’ Me’, ‘Sun Sets in Colorado’ is a fantastic traditional country track, complete with plenty of great fiddle. We get a few more slower moodier before ‘Beer at my Funeral’ picks up the tone and fun up a little. Then there’s the huge single ‘Gold’ which deserves all the listens and high praise that it has already and then some, it’s amazing. ‘All the Right Places’ and album closer ‘High Note’ are also massive highlights of the album. The latter in particular with it’s acoustic jam for an over two-minute outro was fucking awesome.

The album suffered a little from the country thing of too many songs/too long. It’s 14 tracks at 51-minutes. However, the quality was that high and there was enough variety in here that I didn’t really feel the length as much this time. 8.5/10, great stuff!

Dope: Blood Money Part Zer0

Industrial/nu metal early 2000s titans Dope return with their first new album since 2016. Someone needs to teach the band how to count, as part zero should definitely come before part 1 (yes, I know it’s a ‘subtle’ reference to Edzel’s tenure in Static X, let me be ‘funny’). I don’t think I’ve checked out Part 1, but up until that album I’ve enjoyed the band’s output. Hopefully this is the same!

Opener ‘No Respect’ is the most Dope thing I’ve ever heard, and it’s excellent. ‘Believe’ and ‘Best of Me’ didn’t do much for me but ‘Choke’ was awesome, as was ‘Dead World’, ‘Fuck it Up’ and ‘Parasite’. I also didn’t really like the two tracks with Drama Club, ‘Misery’ and ‘Lovesong’. Both felt a little reigned in and boring compared to what I enjoy from the band.

The main issue a lot will have with this album is how long it’s taken to arrive and how many tracks we’ve heard already. Out of the 12 tracks on the album, nine were released prior, leaving just three brand new, never before heard songs. I haven’t been keeping a massively close eye on the band in recent months so had only heard a few, but it must be annoying for hardcore fans of the band to get so much before its release.

Overall, the good tracks did outweigh the meh, but it wasn’t as good as it felt like it could have been. Somehow, even though it was only 43-minutes long, it felt bloated. Then again, that has been a bit of an issue with the band for a while now. 7/10, it was good, but still could have been better!

Hong Faux: Desolation Years

We’ve already covered this one. Find it here!

Lucero: Should’ve Learned By Now

Country-punk isn’t something I thought existed or that I thought I’d type today. However, I’m happy with both, as this is great. It takes my favourite parts of bands like Social Distortion and even Rancid and adds a country twang to it that I didn’t even know I needed in my life. I’m struggling to even pick out a highlight track or three. Yes, it’s all fairly similar, but it’s all so good. The opening couple of tracks are straight up slower punk, while ‘She Leads Me’ and ‘Raining for Weeks’ take more of a country turn.

Honestly, if you’re into the more relaxed side of punk, country or rock, this is for you. 38-minutes flew by and I wanted more by the time it was over. They have a new huge fan in me, and I’mma have to go back and check out their older stuff ASAP. 9/10

Ropemaker: Interwoven

It’s not often we get to check out instrumental music, which is a shame because it’s always technically flawless. This was no exception, the Irish lot’s debut album being a heavy, deathcore/djenty masterclass. Due to the instrumental nature of the music, it’s so hard to pick a highlight track. I do have to commend them too, as at only eight tracks and under 35-minutes in length, it just about managed to hold my attention throughout. Much longer and I’d have gotten a bit bored, but as it stands I loved this! 8/10

VOLORES: AGES

Described as dark Americana, I’ve found yet another new sub-genre I love this week! It definitely still has an indie and pop edge to it, but the simplicity and emotion throughout is fantastic. Plus, the bass really reminded me of Flea, which is always a huge plus. Tracks like ‘Carrion Cry’ and ‘A Proper Icarus’ are personal highlights, but the whole album is awesome. Music like this is huge right now and with the right push this album could put VOLORES at the top of the scene quickly. It’s chilled out yet emotional, simple yet massively talented. 8.5/10

King Abyss: Snake Oil

Time for some thrash to finish off the week. The debut album is a surprising masterclass in speed, aggression and awesome metal. Honestly I felt like I was transported back to my spotty teenage years listening to nothing but heavy thrash, and this is some of the best of the genre I have heard in so long. Some of the lead guitar is honestly mind-blowing, and everyone else did just as amazingly at their respective parts. And, just when I was going to complain about it be similar, we get the Metallica-esque masterpeice that is ‘Disdain’. It’s a ballsy move putting a more ballady track track just four songs into a debut thrash album, but it was a perfect placement and a perfect track. I cannot gush over it enough.

Tracks like the opener and ‘A Short Drop and a Sudden Stop’ also make out playlist but honestly this whole album is phenomenal. If you’re into thrash or death metal or even metalcore, check this shit out. 9/10