Since their upcoming album is a churning sonic exorcism, Godsmack were planning to name the disc Releasing the Demons. Then visions of Spinal Tap, Dio and worse swam through their heads, and they decided to rethink. Thus, Faceless, which comes out in April, was born.
"Faceless just seems timeless," drummer Shannon Larkin said. "It will stand up later on. It's not as cheesy."
"Plus, it has a split identity," added frontman Sully Erna. "Even though we've had success and we're slowly climbing up that ladder, we remain a little bit under the radar, so the band is still a bit faceless compared to the 'NSYNCs and super pop bands. Hopefully this band will follow the steps of great bands like Aerosmith and Metallica that just built their army over the years and had stability and didn't just shoot up the charts and go away after an album. That's what we're hoping to establish with the third album."
They're off to a good start. One song from Faceless, "I Stand Alone," which previously appeared on "The Scorpion King" soundtrack, was just nominated for two Grammy awards (see "Eminem, Avril Lavigne, Nelly, Norah Jones Nab Most Grammy Noms"). It's the second year in a row the band has received such honors.
"It was definitely a surprise being nominated again," Erna said. "The first year, I don't even know why we were nominated, because we were in a category with Joe Satriani and these other guys for best instrumental performance. And the instrumental that we had on our record was an accident, so that was pretty bizarre to be nominated for that. But this year we're pretty excited because we consider ourselves a rock band and we're in a rock category."
Pretty soon, "I Stand Alone" might be upstaged on radio, because on February 4 Godsmack will unleash "Straight Out of Line," the first single from Faceless (see "Godsmack's Erna Lets The Demons Go On Next LP"). The song features a chugging main riff enhanced by textural, single-note guitar lines and powerful, melodic vocals. As on past offerings, Godsmack tactfully blend bruising intensity with hum-along hooks without sounding forced or overly polished.
"I don't think we've ever written intending for it to be a radio hit or video or things like that," Erna said. "We just write what's in our hearts and our souls, and I think because most of us have such a heavy background being raised on bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, what's inside of us is a little bit more aggressive than [what's inside] people who were raised on classical or jazz or things like that. So, when better hooks or melodies come, it's a blessing because a lot of bands that write really heavy stuff don't ever have the opportunity to shine because it's not radio-friendly most of the time."
"Straight Out of Line" may be radio-friendly, but it brims with lyrical contempt, addressing one of Erna's biggest beefs. Before he was a rock star, he and his Boston-based cronies were sneered at by mainstream society. Now, many of the singer's former friends are sneering just as angrily at him.
"It's about the people changing around you that expect you to be different because the band's grown and been successful and toured," Erna said. "These guys used to buddy up with you and buy you a beer, and now they don't understand that you have to tour and there's a lot of work involved, so we're not able to call them every weekend anymore and hang out with them. The animosity kind of grew over the years, and they expect us to have superstar attitudes now. I don't think we've changed at all. I think we're pretty humble for the level that we're at, and it's a bit out of line for them to be that way."