If 2006 was a tough year for the five men of Sevendust, you wouldn’t know it on the first listen to “Alpha,” their toughest and most cohesive album since 2001,’s “Animosity.” Despite how quickly the album came together, not one shred of quality or integrity has been sacrificed. Perhaps they work best under pressure. Afterall, it was about this time last year that their previous record label had crumbled, not even half a year after the release of “Next,” leaving them without tour support. Add to that a string of bad luck for drummer and song-writer Morgan Rose which landed him briefly in jail and with a difficult divorce, and it’s easy to see why Sevendust sound so much hungrier than they have in years.
Beginning with the instant assault of “Deathstar,” Sevendust sound leaner and meaner than they did on their previous effort, 2005’s “Next.” With guitarist Sonny Mayo now fully integrated into the fold for the making of this album, the band sounds more complete than they did before. “Alpha” is 100% Sevendust. Everything good that they know how to do, all at once. Songs like “Suffer,” “Under” and the first single, “Driven” are classic Sevendust, effortlessly fusing their grasp of melody with the driving intensity that is now their signature. Rest assured, though, none of the songs on “Alpha” are a bargain for radio-play. In fact, they seem to have given up any hopes of being a popular rock band, and it definitely works in their favor. “Beg To Differ” and “Story Of Your Life” show that they are still the best at making the simplest, yet most effective heavy songs on the hard rock scene. “Aggression” is probably the most experimental moment, a slow-building piano-driven song that sounds like Sevendust’s best attempt at covering Nine Inch Nails. Such a song shows that Sevendust are more than just that tried-and-true road-warrior band, and are capable of doing things you probably didn’t expect them to do before — like a nine minute song by the name of “Burn.”
Is there a negative aspect to this album? Well, no. It’s right up there with “Home” and “Animosity” as their best work. True, if you never liked Sevendust before, you’re not going to change your mind here, but if you’ve been with them throughout the years, you’re going to find that they haven’t missed a single step and still rock like they’re in their prime, when many of their former peers have fallen to the wayside. “Alpha” is simply a shing 12-song example of Sevendust at their best, and lord, I can only imagine what these songs must sound like live.