With the Deftones and Puddle of Mudd. Monday, September 3, at Blossom.

Taste of Cleveland, featuring Joan Jett. Tower City Amphitheater Noon-11 p.m., Saturday, September 1



You've got to hand it to Godsmack singer Sully Erna. In a nu-metal universe, where tattoos rule and toughness is measured by one's ability to say "fuck" as many times per sentence as humanly possible, Erna is a bona fide, card-carrying, devil-fearing Wiccan. Like Ozzy before him, he not only talks the talk, he walks the walk. His creepiness is genuine, and in an image-conscious, artificial genre where nothing is what is seems, that stands for something. Of course, that doesn't make Erna and his Massachusetts-bred bandmates any better than, say, Limp Bizkit or Papa Roach. In fact, Godsmack is just as annoying and tedious as any of its contemporaries. In real life, Erna may be a black mass-attending devotee of the dark side, but as a rock star, he plays the role of tortured soul, dispensing the same old litany of teen-angst clichés. Add to that his band's brand of post-alt-rock moan and drone, and you've got a group of guys as desperately hungry for the kids' attention as Fred Durst. Godsmack's recent album, Awake, is filled with songs that more or less say all that needs to be said with their titles: "Sick of Life," "Bad Magick," "Vampires," and "Spiral." Worse, they barely muster the energy to make the most of their evil/miserable ways. Everything crawls to a predictable place, and it's not much fun getting there -- dirges for the depressed rarely are. Better to arrive at Monday's Blossom show early (not too early -- starters Puddle of Mudd are just plain badd) and check out the Deftones, who mix metallic crunch with post-modern prog-rock. It's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot more exciting than the lukewarm desolation that headliner Godsmack offers.

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