“Godsmack’s Sully Erna’s ‘Avalon’ is one of the last great albums.” – Music Review

Tuesday night I actually picked up the last copy of Sully Erna's "Avalon" at a store I won't mention. Yeah that's right I bought a CD, didn't download it or even get a free copy (though one was offered to me…the link ended up not working, the Gods apparently wanted me to buy the album). As a fan of music I love and miss reading the liner notes, so whenever I get a chance to do that again I jump at it.

 

With "Avalon," Erna left the listener a message that explains how music is simply nothing more than vibrations. These vibrations cause almost instant emotion, which in turn is a miracle. I've always explained music as a universal language. No matter where you are in the galaxy that note will always equal that sound. It's like math, 1 + 1 will always be two, no matter where you go. 

 

The big question is will Godsmack fans like "Avalon?" Why not? Is there really anything out there that everybody loves? No. If you're into simple 3 chord music and that's it, you might not like "Avalon," but I recommend checking it out anyway, because you never know. "Avalon" is definitely not a Godsmack album. Could it have been? Maybe, but it would have been a very different album and it definitely wouldn't have been as good.

 

Artists hate being compared to other artists, that's why they're artists. However, as a fan trying to explain an album to other fans, comparison paints a better picture. "Avalon" is truly all over the place in terms of genre. Remember when Jimmy Page and Robert Plant reunited for MTV's "Unplugged" show and they called it "Unledded?" It was full of Middle Eastern music, mixed with Zep's signature sound. "Avalon" has a more tribal feel to it. The drumming was done with all hand drumming. Drums were handled by Niall Gregory from Dead Can Dance as well as Erna himself. So while it doesn't sound like Led Zeppelin, it does kind of remind me of the world music vibe that Plant and Page had during the "Unledded" album.

What's unfortunate is that unless you're a Godsmack fan (or hater like some of those douchebags that comment on things at Blabbermouth.net) you probably won't know this album is out. I think there are a lot of people out there who've never even heard of Godsmack that would really enjoy "Avalon." I just hope they get a chance to hear it.

 

When I spoke with Erna a few weeks back (read it here: http://www.zoiksonline.com/2010/09/godsmacks-sully-ernas-talks-solo-album.html), he told me that he slit his wrist and poured himself into this music. You can really hear it too. Lyrically alone this is the smartest album he's ever written. He's not yelling about some washed up bass player "Cryin' like a Bitch" or how much he "Fucking Hates" somebody. The lyrics are very thought provoking and inspiring.

 

 

 

I don't want to shit on any of the players in Godsmack, specifically Shannon Larkin, because they're great, but musically Erna brought in musicians to force him to raise the bar. Whenever you hear an instrument on "Avalon," you're not hearing a synthetic instrument; you're hearing real players playing their real instruments.

 

As I'm writing this review, I'm also listening to the album for the first time. While writing I feel the urge to look up to the TV, because it sounds as if I'm watching a movie, but the TV is off. The album is so visual; I would love to hear this album in surround sound at a movie theater or something like that, with the music coming at you in all different directions. "Avalon" deserves a movie much like Pink Floyd's "The Wall" or The Who's "Tommy," I'm serious, it's that good.

 

One of the great things about "Avalon" is that it was just a collection of spare pieces of music that Erna put together over the last seven years that weren't right for Godsmack. I was talking to a musician friend of mine the other day and he was telling me that ever since he really started taking music seriously and practicing and writing, he could hear that most artists, whenever they write a new album there seems to be a consistent theme or chord progression throughout, because that is where you're at musically in that given time. This isn't always a bad thing, but it can become repetitive. This is not the case with "Avalon." Every song is so different yet it fits together so perfectly in the collective whole.

 

This day in age, albums aren't made to listen to beginning to end. Nobody listens to them beginning to end anyway. Albums are made with the song in mind rather than the album as a whole in mind. Think back to some of the great Pink Floyd albums, "Animal," "Dark Side of the Moon," "The Wall," these albums as a whole were better than any one song on those albums. The same holds true for "Avalon." I'm not saying it's as good as Pink Floyd, that's for you to decide, but it definitely gets better when you start with track one, "Avalon," and listen through track 10, "In Through Time."

 

"Avalon" is a difficult album to describe. Rather than describe each track or tell you about my favorite moments, I'm going to leave you with this. Pickup Sully Erna's "Avalon," put it in your stereo, turn it up, close your eyes and let the album take you on a journey. Even if you fall asleep, you'll have amazing dreams. With "Avalon" Sully Erna earns the respect he's always deserved, but never gotten. "Avalon" is one of the last great masterpiece albums.

 
BYLINE:

Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.
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6 Comments:

WIL3Y said...

Very well put my friend, I really enjoyed this article. I picked up a cd as well, and I have been a Godsmack fan since the day they started, and I must say Sully is a musical genius. This album is simply beautiful, hypnotizing, and inspiring in all aspects of music.

Sincerely, Wiley Harang

Jan Shaw said...

Sully Erna's gone solo! ARTISTdirect has the exclusive video interview with the rocker as he talks about "Avalon", his influences & what's next for Godsmack! http://bit.ly/aEk59H

T said...

An amazing compilation of music that takes you to a different place. A place that only each individual can experience in their own way. I have listened to the entire cd too many times to count. I can't help but feel it in my soul from the first note. Congratulations Sully. This is one of the best by far.

Lynder said...

I downloaded the album via itunes because I was too impatient to find a store to buy it... all I can say is I have listened to the whole thing at least 4 times and I truly feel the power of the music. This is so far beyond 99% of the music out there. It is Brilliant.

4serenity said...

I purchased "AVALON" at the GODSMACK concert Friday in Boston. I had not heard this CD or any commentary on it before purchase. I love Sully's voice - and that was enough for me. Well, what a surprise I was in for - this CD is fucking amazing !!!!! Get one for yourself. Thank you Sully - I truly
appreciate your God-given talents and your hard work. PEACE TO ALL

Anonymous said...

Check out this awesome video of Sully Erna performing for 98 Rock Listeners! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTeChZkX5E0