Four long years after IV, Godsmack’s last effort, fans perhaps had some reason for trepidation about the release of The Oracle. After all, since their 1998 debut, they had moved further afield of the songwriting and recording formula that made it eventually a triple platinum success. Godsmack had taken their post-grunge brand of heavy metal and brandished it into a sound that fluctuated between straight-up riff-heavy plodding and more dramatic sonic ambiences that thundered on Awake and Faceless (the former of these won a Grammy), then mutated on 2004’s The Other Side, which showcased them playing acoustically.
For those who love Black Sabbath more than Santa Claus, and would trade their firstborn for a lock of James Hetfield’s hair, multiplatinum metal proselytizers Godsmack seem like a gimme. Except that almost everything about them comes off like a cheap, store-brand version of the genre’s best: old Pantera riffs, turgid Alice in Chains imagery, sub-Metallica howls. The Oracle is not terrible, just thoroughly second-rate.