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★★★★☆
(68 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • Hartford, CT 1998. Meadows Ampetheatre. I go to see Megadeth with someone named Sevendust opening up for them.

    3 hours later when my friends are all talking about how awesome Dave Mustaine is, all I can think is; “I need this Sevendust album”. The heaviness combined with melody and a soulful singing style was entirely new at the time and was a much welcome breath of air. Fast forward to 2005 and I say that after purchasing their albums “Home”, “Animosity”, “Seasons” as well as their DVD Retrospect and seeing them live 7 times, I was obviously anxious for their newest album since their last, Seasons, obviously paled in comparison from their magnum opus, Animosity. Seasons had so many “pop” influences it made most 7D fans scratch their heads and I’ll admit, the first single “Enemy” with it’s rap-rock style seemed a cop out for what may be the most original band of the “nu-metal” era. NEXT is full of harmony, melody, seething, scathing and thought provoking lyrics. After losing their record deal and a guitarist (Clint Lowery, whose axe has been replaced by Sonny Mayo of Snot and whose vocals have been taken over by John Connolly, who does a hell of a job) they’ve got a lot to be pissed about. Besides being steeped in the most aggression since “Home”, the track “This Life” almost brings tears to an eye if you close yours and picture the story behind the song (guitarist John Connolly’s daughter being born). The track “Failure” which is actually a lot more positive than the title conveys actually hits me personally; “/I always thought I’d be a failure / All my life I’ve been here…” After listening to the whole song, it’s obvious though that it’s about finding that strength inside and rising above what holds you down.

    From here on in, Sevendust manage to keep the balance of keeping things heavy while ensuring that the hooks have enough bite to grab you with tracks such as “Pieces”, “Desertion”, “Silence”, the stomping “Last Song” and “Never” all prime examples of the sound Sevendust are world-renowned for- while the slower paced numbers “See And Believe” and the sweeping acoustic/viola based closer “Shadows In Red” all help add a little diversity to the album.

    Buy Sevendust’s Next. NOW.

    10 out of bloody 10.

    Posted on February 22, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • As a preview of what is to come: This album is not a bad one. It IS however a bad example of Sevendust’s musicianship, and if you are just getting introduced to this band, a better place to start would probably be their self-titled album for a heavier introduction or “Seasons” for a more mainstream but still excellent album. Now on to “Next”…

    Walking into the record store to buy “Next” on October 11th was absolutely nerve-wracking. With all of the factors building up against Sevendust prior to the recording of this latest effort, it seemed that the good old southern boys might finally stumble after providing us with almost ten years of being the “most” (please excuse a rabid fan’s superlative) talented and reliable source of heavy rock music. I am not sure if “stumble” would be the best word to most accurately describe what has happened with this album, but it certainly has not been a completely smooth transition for Sevendust. Granted, they have had a lot to overcome in the recording of “Next”, what with the loss of an integral member of the band in Clint Lowery and a turbulent change in labels; to overcome all of this speaks to their longevity and solidarity as a band. But what we have here is not an evolution of the band, as would have been the best result of the new addition to the band in Sonny Mayo and the freedom of self-production, what we have instead is a step backwards in complexity and content to something… below (I shudder to use that word) what this stellar unit of musicians should be producing.

    Before going on, I am going to add a disclaimer. The three stars I am giving this album is only in context to Sevendust’s potential. I would still consider this one of the best albums of 2005. With that said, here is why this Next step in Sevendust’s evolution has proved to be a mildly disappointing one. As much as the band and we the fans assert that Sevendust will not notice the absence of Clint Lowery in the band, it shows on the album. I do not know that much about guitar besides what I can hear, but background vocals provided by Clint in past recordings were a key layer to any song that was not a total thrasher, and a part of many that were. For evidence of both, see Skeleton Song from Seasons (or even better, them covering Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” on Southside Double-Wide) and Face from their self-titled debut. More importantly than what was in the past is what we can hear, or not hear, on “Next”. Sorry boys, but Morgan’s scratchy scream can only go so far. As much as it works perfectly in some songs, it is most effective when used in moderation, and we’re getting way too much of Morgan’s voice on “Next.” So we either need to let Sonny or John or Vinny try singing or change things up , because the band just doesn’t have any backup vocals anymore, and their style did not change accordingly on “Next”.

    Self-production may be the right way for Sevendust to do things. I am not convinced by “Next”. In interview after interview, Sevendust vouches for their needing to self-produce something after TVT (their old label) had been breathing down their necks for so many years. I am not questioning that happening or that being wrong, and if they had been telling Sevendust to make their music less heavy to please fan or make music, that was obviously wrong and not in the spirit of authenticity and “music-for-the-music” that Sevendust has embraced and tried to project as their image. So if going into the studio and producing the album the way they wanted to on their own is something that they felt like they had to do in order to restore authenticity and “heaviness” to their style, then more power to them. My theory, however, is that Sevendust may have taken the self-sufficiency bit a little too far. The whole album feels a little bit MORE produced than anything they have ever made and OVER-heavy to the point where it is no longer “heavy” and becomes a stuttering mess. It seems as if they were so reluctant to take any input from the outside after being pushed around by TVT for so long that they didn’t take any criticism from anyone. At least that is what I hope happened, because on this album we have an overabundance of sounds and effects produced via computer (see intros to most of the first eight songs, most notably “Ugly” and “Pieces”) and a HUGE mistake has been made with synthesizers on “This Life,” which is a prime example of cheesy 80’s style synthesizer being brought back from the dead in an ugly and unaesthetic manner. “This Life” along with “See and Believe” and “The Last Song” are all outstanding examples of Sevendust running out of things to say. Oops. The maxing-out on “heaviness” which apparently the band felt was robbed from them on past records, can at some points be extremely effective and stirring, as the best of Sevendust’s work is, but at other times, it falls completely flat, much as Morgan’s screaming is often used too much (for the best example of Sevendust heaviness, see their self-titled album, which has all of the raw and “heavy” musical power and grit that the boys were trying and to capture on this album). The best situation is that this album got all of their “heavy-jones” out and they can move past that to making the music that comes naturally to them out without worrying about being the heaviest band ever and considering more the content of their lyrics and the music itself.

    That is ALL of the bashing and negative criticism i can bring myself to make of this band, which remains my favorite band(if you would begrudge me such a petty designation). The boys’ spirit and heart for performance still presumably remains intact, and that is what really makes them great. There are some moments on this latest effort that really do shine and brush the levels to which we have seen these guys rise before. See “Failure,” “Ugly,” or “Silence” for evidence of truly soaring choruses, and the bridge of “See and Believe” to get a taste of Sevendust can do when they do “heavy” right. Once again, the mediocrity of this album can only be noticed when listened to in context of Sevendust’s past material, and this very slight stumble has not shaken my faith in this excellent band. Hopefully with the next album, the band can actually grow musically in their exciting and promising new circumstance rather than worry about becoming some kind of heavy monster of a band…

    Posted on February 22, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • THE BAND: Lajon Witherspoon (vocals), John Connolly (guitar), Vince Hornsby (bass), Morgan Rose (drums), Sonny Mayo (guitar). Mayo replaces departed founding Sevendust member Clint Lowery (who went to perform with his brother’s band ‘Dark New Day’). Home town: Atlanta, Georgia.

    THE DISC: Self-produced on Winedark label. 11 tracks clocking in at approximately 44 minutes. Liner notes: 4-page fold out including band pictures, lyrics and thank you’s. 25 minute DVD on the flip side of the disc featuring band moments and behind the scenes recording of the album.

    COMMENTS: “Next” is one of my top 5 favorite albums from 2005. As much as I’ve liked scattered songs and hits from previous releases, I love “Next” in it’s entirety. There is absolutely no filler… this is the first ‘complete’ album I truly worship. Vince’s trademark bass pounding is still there, but it’s toned down. Witherspoon and bandmates are not solely relying on aggressive vocals and volume. Some songs are down-right melodic. It’s toned down in the way that Metallica toned down their 1991 ‘Black’ album – and it works. Topics include dealing with relationships, loneliness, and self awareness. I predict this release to have several songs hit the FM airwaves. Since Sevendust’s first release in 1997, they’ve continued to push the envelope. While “Seasons” (2003) is/was poorly received and probably my least favorite album, I have a strong feeling “Next” will be just the opposite. The first hits are “Ugly” and “Pieces” and very deserving = great songs! Also check out the acoustic “Shadows In Red” complete with string arrangments; and “This Life” – the closest thing to a ballad Sevendust has ever done. Great disc.

    Posted on February 22, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • You have got to give props to this Georgia quartet. Since they debuted in 1997, they have consistently turned out one solid album after another, and only two years after their last album was released. Plus, even though they changed record labels and lost their original guitarist (Clint Lowery), they wrote, recorded, and released a new album in only two years time. To do this, Sevendust had to find a replacement guitarist (Sony Mayo), and even self-produce the album.

    Sevendust sound as great as ever before, and the whole band is in fine form, here. Plus, Sony (who has played in bands like Amen and Snot) is such a good replacement, it’s almost impossible to tell Clint left.

    It turns out, that, in the past, the record labels had nixed Sevendust’s attempts to write heavier music. But, since “Next” was self-produced and recorded without a major label breathing down their necks, the band members could essentially go nuts, and do/write whatever they wanted. The result was an album that’s a mixed bag of songs. “Pieces” is possibly the heaviest song ever written by Sevendust, but a song like “Shadows In Red,” which is an acoustic ballad with even a viola, shows off their softer, sensitive side. Other highlights include “This Life,” which is a slow, gloomy power ballad which showcases Lajon’s stellar vocals, whereas “The Last Song” features chunky, almost machine gun riffs. And, lastly, “Hero,” and the lead single “Ugly,” are instant hits.

    “Next” is dragged down a little because some of the tunes (like the surging “Never”) are a little too familiar, but that’s a minor complaint when the songs sound this good!

    The bonus DVD is a news recap of everything that has happened to Sevendust since their last album was released.

    Sevendust had to do a lot in order to release this album, so it was somewhat of a surprise that “Next” was released this year. But it’s not (or shouldn’t be) a surprise that this is not just an album, but a good one, at that. As any real music fan would tell you, Sevendust have more than proven themselves as a very consistent and powerful heavy rock band who will seemingly never let down or disappoint their fans.

    Posted on February 22, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I love the fall. It’s a time of change. Summer is over, all the obnoxious kids are back in school, the streets are empty, the weather is milder and more comfortable. All of these things make autumn my favorite season. One other reason to appreciate this time of year is Sevendust. Every fall (well, every other fall) I always can look forward to a new Sevendust release. Like clockwork, since their 1997 debut, the boys have never let us down. Every other year, releasing an incredible, original album that puts their competition to shame.

    It’s been a year of change for the band, and their fifth album is appropriately titled “Next.” Aside from getting away from their neglectful label (TVT), they also had to endure the loss of founding guitarist, Clint Lowery (who left late last year to join his brother in Dark New Day). I’m sure I’m not the only one who was worried about Sevendust’s future, afterall, this is, and always has been, a highly collaborative group, and Clint no doubt played a big part. One listen to “Next,” however, and all worries and doubts are set aside. Sevendust are back, just as strong as before. As the opening track, “Hero,” ripped through my speakers, a smile formed on my face. Sevendust are here to stay.

    Clint’s replacement, Sony Mayo, fits like a glove. You almost wouldn’t notice there was a change in line-up. Mayo obviously has chemistry with the group. Aside from playing in groups like (hed)p.e. and Amen, he was an original member of Snot, a group that Sevendust came up with in the mid to late 90’s. Mayo came into the group very quickly (within a month, they had confirmed him as Clint’s replacement) and it’s easy to see why. The chemistry is electrifying. This set of 11 songs easily fits in among Sevendust’s best. Style-wise, it’s a progression from 2003’s “Seasons.” It shares a lot of the same traits, but since it was self-produced, “Next” is a more down and dirty, grittier affair. Fans of the older material can rejoice, as this album combines the best of old with new, while still steering their style towards the future. Standouts on this record include the instant hits “Ugly” and “Pieces,” the somber “This Life,” and “Never,” an effects heavy callback to the groups earlier efforts.

    Personally, I can’t wait to see these guys when they hit the road. This is undoubtedly an album that will sound even better performed live (which is what Sevendust are best at), and “The Last Song” just proves it. Take one listen to the chorus, and you can almost imagine being in the crowd at a Sevendust show. Overall, “Next” is a forceful, well-made album. The band sound just as great as before, it’s like they never missed a step. The bonus DVD, which runs about 25 minutes basically brings everyone up to speed on what has happened to the group in the past year (although it’s funny to note that Clint is never mentioned directly). “Next” is an album you won’t want to miss. As for Sevendust, I raise my glass to you. You couldn’t disappoint us — even if you tried.

    Posted on February 22, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now