He is best known as the lead singer for the metal band Godsmack. Earlier this year they released the terrific disc The Oracle and reestablished themselves as one of the most dynamic heavy metal bands on the scene today. That being said, there comes a time when a songwriter has something to say but it does not fit into the context of the band they are in. Such is the case with Sully Erna. Through his music and lyrics on Avalon Erna opens up and lets us see a much more personal side of himself. Enlisting a wealth of instruments and styles that would never be considered by his main band, Sully has produced one of those discs that really carries you away to wherever he wants to takes you. With headphones on, close your eyes and you will find a new world created by the music of Sully Erna. It is not often that you can call an album a visual experience but this one is a disc that will have a movie playing in your head with the soundtrack already in place!
One of the most captivating aspects of the album is the way he takes you on an exotic expedition with the help of a tribal percussion feel to most of the disc. Enlisting Niall Gregory from the band Dead Can Dance was a stroke of luck or genius as he transforms this album into a powerful musical statement. When the opening title track "Avalon" hits you with its mystical jungle rhythm, it is hard to resist being pulled into this intriguing soundscape created by Sully. He has hit upon a winning formula here that is far removed from the music that we know him by but it is such a dynamic effort that you will be amazed that this is the same guy who fronts Godsmack.
Hand drums, cello, piano and flute are just some of the instrumentation that Erna uses to snare the listener. Even when he uses a bit of the electric guitar as on the terrific "7 Years" it is done against a very dynamic background of lush orchestration and makes for a truly great song. This might be my favorite tune on the disc as it kind of combines the Sully we all know with the one that is being introduced to us on this disc.
You don't expect a piano ballad from Mr. Erna but he gives you one that will have you wanting more of this kind of stuff from him with the song "Broken Road". Taking a page out of the Zakk Wylde playbook, Sully paints a brooding picture with this terrific tune. He might be a hard as nails rocker in his day job but this side of him gives you the feeling that you are getting into the soul of what makes him tick. It is hard to ignore music that is this emotional and personal.
Sully enlists the help of Lisa Guyer to help on vocals throughout the disc. Her presence is the compliment to Erna's strong performance on this album and on songs like "Sinner's Prayer" and "Until Then…" she is a driving force. Her background work on the song "The Departed" helps turn it into an intoxicating mystical piece that will have you thinking of Alice In Chains as you listen to it. Without a doubt Sully has chosen wisely on whom he had work on this project and the care that he used makes this disc a real treat.
There is so much good on this album from top to bottom that it is hard to find any fault with it at all. This one is just great music from start to finish. Sully has given us a special treat that is meant to be savored. Each time I listen I only find myself liking it more and more. It also shows me something about the man himself and I would have to say that I like what I see. As good as the Godsmack album was earlier this year, this one is a much more powerful musical statement. I certainly hope that we hear more of this kind of stuff from him.
If you purchase this disc by download, there is an additional song called "Cast Out (Spirit Ceremony)". Using a very Native American sound, it is not hard to envision the ritualistic ceremony fueled by this soundtrack. It is a very good tune and I would suggest you check it out.
In short, just buy this disc and enjoy. It is a real hidden gem that will only enhance your collection. It will also be a disc that you will have a hard time taking out of the player as you think just one more spin. Not many disc can you get lost in the music such as this one.
2. 7 Years
3. Broken Road
4. Sinner's Prayer
5. My Light
6. The Rise
7. Until Then…
8. The Departed
9. Eyes Of A Child
10. In Through Time
11. Cast Out(Spirit Ceremony) Download Only