Sevendust return with a mixed bag of tunes for their ninth album. As a fan of the band, I was looking forward to this album since I burned my copy of Cold Day Memory to a cinder from repeated playbacks. The Atlanta bred quintet are clearly on point with Black Out The Sun, but the new cuts still leaves a little something to be desired.
I’ve been a fan of the band since I saw them at Woodstock as a young’un. More importantly, I’ve seen this band go through hell and back to emerge victorious on the other side (Clint leaving, money troubles, lawsuits, labels…). In fact, other than Chapter VII (yuck!) I’ve always enjoyed the patented Sevendust “heavy groove + screams+ melody+soulful” vocals formula. I respect the band tremendously and think they don’t get the credit they deserve. Hell, how many bands from the nineties are still kicking it like the old days? Maybe that’s a good thing because it keep them “real”, which is what fans such as myself admire about them. They remain true to themselves and their craft. Personally, I considered Cold Day Memory as a comeback album which promised a revitalized Sevendust. Having said that, I would rank this as one of their weaker efforts.
The album attacks from the front with the double punch of Faithless and Till Death. At this point it feels like the darker sequel to Cold Day Memory. I suspect Till Death will become a moshing favorite with Clint, Morgan and Lajon trading vocals all over the place, while the rest of the band keeps things tight with frenetic instrument work. It has a very old school Home vibe to it. In particular, pay attention to the drumming on this song because Morgan pulls out all the stops like he grew an extra set of arms to play some of the parts.
Suddenly, the album shifts into a very groovy, bass-heavy and cocky tune infused with a little southern hospitality. I dig it. Mountain is the band’s declaration to the world that they are alive and kicking while many others have fallen. I would push it to be the second single off the album. Cold As War turned out to be the first weak tune of the album. It isn’t very exciting and sounds like a rehashed ballad off Chapter VII. There is some very good guitar work, but it doesn’t elevate the tune and feels forced.
The title track is Sevendust at the top of their ‘effin game! This is the formula I spoke of earlier. This is an inspired song with passionate lyrics. As Lajon raises his voice to new heights, the rest of the band is busy drowning you in the emotive musicianship that is Sevendust’s trademark. An outstanding song on every level.
Nobody Wants It is an average song and propels the album into the second half. It has a catchy chorus with a driving beat that percolates throughout the song. Unfortunately, everything surrounding that isn’t very inspiring. Dead Roses is an interesting fast paced song. Initially I thought it was more filler, but it grew on me. The solo late in the song is well devised and the song really benefits from it. It’s a different approach for the band and it works well enough to be one of the standout tracks on the album.
Most people have probably heard Decay by now. It’s the heaviest and darkest song on the album and it borrows influences from Animosity and Home. I would call it one of their better singles, but it isn’t totally representative of the album as a whole. This is very noticeable on Dark AM and Picture Perfect. By far, these are the most underwhelming tracks on the album. The former has infectious verses but falters in the chorus. The latter has a beautifully orchestrated chorus accompanied by weak verses. They aren’t terrible by any stretch, but they didn’t impact me like the songs in the first half.
Got A Feeling rescues the album and brings the band back to revisit their acoustic skills. It’s an incredibly memorable song with hair-raising melody as it ebbs and flows through different emotions. The manner in which it shifts gears has a classic rock vibe to it and catches Sevendust at their introspective best. The final track is Murder Bar and I don’t understand why they chose to put this as the closer. Ending the album with Got A Feeling would have been a better idea. Still, Murder Bar is a solid song with a very interesting stop-go and almost staccato rhythm. I felt it would have made a superb opening song because it feels odd to hear it follow the fantiastic Got A Feeling.
Overall, the album is a mix of everything Sevendust has accomplished up to this point in their career. The band has a formula and doesn’t stray too far from it. That’s completely fine because Sevendust has nothing to prove. They’ve been around a long-ass time and I would place them among the elite of their genre. Nevertheless, I was a little disappointed with this album because that same formula led to a few stale tunes on this album. Of course, that might not be true for everyone because there is a lot to like across the album. The first-half is truly stellar and the entire album is brimming with excellent musicianship and standout moments. In closing, buy the album and catch the band on tour this year. I promise you won’t be disappointed.