At the risk of torpedoing my metal cred,1 I must admit I have a bit of a soft spot for Godsmack. They were an essential band in what I call my pre-metal phase when I was getting prepped for what was to come by getting used to electric guitars. But unlike many of their peers on my Discman CDs, such as Adema,2 I can still enjoy an occasional select Godsmack track through the rosy glasses of nostalgia, and I maintain that “I Stand Alone” is a hella groovy tune3. That does not mean I want to hear more of that sort of music, it just means I’m susceptible to melancholy like most people who aren’t psychopaths. But sometimes I find that sort of hard rock, borderline nu-metal tough guy dreck thrust upon me against my will. I wish I had an angel to safeguard me from those, but alas. Enter the awfully, awfully named EdgeOverEdge, and their awful cover and awful logo wrapping an awful self-titled debut.
Contractually obliged as I am to quest for something nice to say about even the worst of bands, I will admit that there’s an occasional catchy riff. The slow and deliberate closer “Mountain Breather” sports one that Crypt Sermon could have given a better home, for instance. When he actually tries, vocalist M. Austin is not terrible, though it’s hard to peer through the cavalcade of “hah’s” and “ye-eah’s”. And there is decent variety in both pacing and atmosphere across the album, with actual melancholy and doomy darkness sprinkled in with the ‘hooligan looking for a fight’ attitude.
Enough tonguebathing. EdgeOverEdge has missed the nu-metal boat by about 15 years, but here they are, playing the exact same type of edgy tough guy radio rock that was popular at the time. And it includes all the tropes, too, from the semi-rapped-semi-sung verses of preposterous posturing and muscle-flexing and bro-downing, to the bland guitars and pop structures. Godsmack is clearly the dominant inspiration here, the vocals using that same peudo-southern drawl, megaphone vocoder effects and yeah-shouting. But even though Godsmack was never popular among metal purists, they are miles ahead of this festering pulp in every aspect. The lyrics are a barrage of tough guy cringe for 12 year olds, their execution hammed up at every turn with forced sandpaper textures in the vocals and overuse of drawl and eye roll-worthy embellishment. Each song has one main riff that’s overused front to back, and some of them still don’t stick due to how utterly generic they are.
The production adds another level of confusion. Not all tracks are equally loud, for starters, but that’s not the worst part. The actual textures of some of the instruments changes. Sometimes you can barely hear the bass because its dull sound gets buried under the guitar. The next track it may have a gnarly slapped sound that layers the song much better. The opening track has a cowbell so overpowering it would make Christopher Walken consider asking for less. But the worst are the kickdrums on several specific tracks, where it sounds less like the pit you should feel in your stomach and more like someone open-hand-slapping a plate of plexiglass, one of the most neck hair curling sounds to come from a drum kit since St. Anger. The utter inconsistency is absolutely baffling and further calls into question the competency of everyone involved with this endeavor.
I expect promo sheets to be a bastion of lies and undeserved hype, that is nothing new. But the sheet for EdgeOverEdge should be liable to a false advertising suit. The promo was for some unfathomable reason marked as progressive, though it’s as progressive as Ted Nugent at a Klan rally. It contained what’s essentially a hyper-enthusiastic track-by-track review of the album, each claim more tone-deaf than the next. The most galling line, however, spoke of the band being unique and creative while playing a cardboard copy of a style that went stale over a decade ago. EdgeOverEdge is an album that Godsmack did better on the other side of the millennium, in every aspect from conception to composition to execution to production. This would have been third-rate, even in nu-metal’s heyday. In this day and age, it’s downright embarrassing.