Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Although Republic/Universal rockers Godsmack titled its third recording "Faceless" -- to reference its self-perception of being rock'n'roll underdogs -- circumstances are aligning to put the foursome decidedly and permanently in a prominent position on the rock map.

For one, the April 8 release will ship more than 1 million copies to retail, according to the label. "This is our biggest record of the first half of the year-perhaps our year-and we are going to treat it accordingly," Republic president Avery Lipman says.

Also, first single "Straight Out of Line" has been spinning on U.S. active, modern rock, and mainstream rock radio stations since late January. The accompanying video, shot with director Dean Karr, delivers a straight-on rock performance.

And, along with the label's decision to price the album lower than most new releases, the band is campaigning to keep ticket prices to its upcoming tour low. "That's one of the things we are most proud of," frontman Sully Erna says. "It's hard being a kid nowadays and having to hit your parents up for all this money for a CD and then another $100 to see the concert. We're not going to do that to them."

All these factors and percolating fan interest would seem to verify that three times, indeed, will be a charm. Boston-based Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill, and new drummer Shannon Larkin (who replaced Tommy Stewart early last year) are building on two previous multi-platinum albums.

"We feel pretty fulfilled right now. We're right on the line, and I think this record is going to break things open for us," Erna says of the set, recorded in Miami with producer Dave Botrill. "No one's really doing rock music the way we do any more. It's either techno rock, or rap rock, or something else."

"It's been so gratifying to see this band develop and keep their integrity and their relevancy through their hard work," Lipman says. "There are always fads and trends, but Godsmack is on its own path and its growth continues to be organic, which is ultimately the way it needs to be because it is longer lasting and more authentic."

"Faceless" takes Godsmack in a more melodic direction, as Erna expands his vocal range and lyrical inspirations. While the sharp diatribes prevalent on previous outings are still in full force, they're tempered with numbers like "Serenity." "I flushed out a lot of that stuff on the first two records," he says. "I'm not going to pretend I'm pissed off at the world just to keep up that perception of me. I'm not in that place anymore. "





Excerpted from the April 5, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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