by: Sully Erna

Recorded over a seven-year span, Godsmack frontman Sully Erna's solo debut may come as a surprise to fans expecting another chiseled collection of angst-fueled midtempo slabs of alternative metal. Erna’s still filled with angst, but musically he’s branched out, choosing the tribal, Far East motifs that have begun popping up on Godsmack's most recent albums over the bleak post-grunge approach that has earned them multiple Grammy nominations. This change is most evident on Avalon's opulent title cut, a sweeping, cinematic acoustic gem that sounds like a cross between Led Zeppelin's “Battle of Evermore” and Evanescence's “My Immortal.” That sound expands to an even greater extent on the single “Sinner’s Prayer,” bolstered by guest vocalist Lisa Guyer, Bulgarian cellist Irina Chirkova, and Dead Can Dance percussionist Niall Gregory. As with all of Erna’s work, the subject matter is intensely personal yet simply rendered, and the overall effect can be both majestic and sullen. The weight of the world does indeed grow heavier (for the listener) as the album progresses, but there’s a lot to be said for managing to crank out such a powerful product with all of the amps turned off. ~ James Christopher Monger

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