In the 20 or so years Sully Erna has spent with Godsmack, you get the sense complacency is not a part of who he is. Erna never seems fully satisfied, frequently challenging himself musically and artistically, broadening his repertoire and already stellar resume. Since their self-entitled debut album in 1998, Erna and Godsmack in company have always sought to perform throughout a wide range of musical styles. This couldn’t be better represented in Erna’s solo projects as he takes the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the typical Godsmack sound. What has always intrigued me about Erna as a frontman is his inclination to write songs that can rip you to shreds or tap into your deepest emotions and vulnerabilities. Erna’s first solo release, Avalon, is almost seven years of work that perfectly combined a seamless contrast of powerful blues riffs from Godsmack, and a heavy dose of tribal rhythms which Erna has made his own. Six years removed, this now takes us to “Hometown Life,” the leading track for Erna’s upcoming album of the same name. The song still resembles a recognizable sound and holds what fans would hope for from a seasoned vocalist like Erna. Above all, this track feels like Erna writing for himself, regardless of how it’s received.
There are a couple different factors to this song that make it so unique. “Hometown Life” begins with a much softer guitar rhythm, along with a calming, yet powerful vocal progression from Erna to follow suit. The chorus then packs an unexpected punch and explodes with heavier riffs and percussion, allowing Erna to unleash his true vocal power and take listeners on an emotional introspective. The heavy drum fills and changes in volume and tempo give the song a level of depth that completes the entire production. The most surprising and enjoyable touch would be the piano playing that is featured throughout. It’s smooth, yet fast-paced. It’s powerful, yet elegant, and it matches the tone of the song beautifully. Erna has written a song that creates a clash between the harshness of his vocals and the dreamy guitar riffs, and somehow it manages to bring the song home.
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The four plus minutes of this song are just a small part of what the entire body of work is going to be. If someone was new to Godsmack or the work of Sully Erna and this was the first song they’ve ever heard, the infatuation is that they could sample any of Godsmack’s six album discography and the elements of “Hometown Life” are there. Erna has been able to translate his sound and give it a new life in this particular song. As the years have gone by, Sully Erna has never allowed a media influence or mainstream popularity change who he is as a songwriter and musician. Erna and Godsmack included have forged a path for great artists to take. Even though their popularity might not be at the level it once was, they have continued to mature and succeed with each and every release. With Hometown Life set to come out on Sept. 30, fans will anxiously await for the final product.
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