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Album review

Godsmack, ‘The Oracle’

May 3, 2010

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Rock
Godsmack, ‘The Oracle’
Universal/ Republic
ESSENTIAL “What If?’’

More than a decade after Godsmack helped rehab hard rock’s image in the wake of alt-rock’s radio takeover, the song pretty much remains the same for this likable if not particularly imaginative Bay State band. “The Oracle,’’ Godsmack’s fifth studio album, opens with “Cryin’ Like a [expletive],’’ a song that could have easily been on any other Godsmack record. The chug-chug guitar grooves, crash-bash drum work, and singing style of Godsmack mastermind Sully Erna are the key ingredients to every one of the band’s hits going back to the breakout “Keep Away.’’ Though built mainly with recycled material, “The Oracle’’ has fresh moments, such as the scrappy delivery of “What If?’’ and the up-tempo snap of “War and Peace.’’ On the few occasions that he is freed from formulaic constraints, guitarist Tony Rombola effectively knocks some texture into these otherwise slick and efficient songs. Godsmack also sticks to its stock songwriting topics — spiritual angst, mental torment, and social discomfort. “The Oracle’’ certainly reiterates all that has made Godsmack a successful band, and it proves that these locally bred players are capable of big-sounding, attention-grabbing music. But you can’t help but think that “The Oracle’’ is more calculated than heartfelt. (Out tomorrow) -- SCOTT McLENNAN