What is Sevendust?
When it comes to bringing the noise nobody does it as efficient and consistent as the boys from Atlanta. They have mastered the art of bringing forth a crushing assault infused with soothing melodies. In other words they are going to kick your teeth in but still make you feel good about it.
Once you listen to Sevendust you really cannot look at music the same way again. It’s not background music that gets you through the morning traffic, or the power song that gets you through the final reps. When you discover this band and understand what they are really about, you crave the ‘every other year’ moment when they churn out a dozen new tracks.
In search of new music all the way back in 2001 I stumbled upon a track named ‘Trust’ on AOL’s listening Party. The attention demanding “DU-DUN-NA” start felt like a hammer just dropped out of my speakers. What followed changed my interpretation of music forever. The opening verse “When I hold my head down to the ground…” remains to this day one of the most soothingly executed lines recorded. I have fond memories throughout the sevendust lifespan. I remember
- Racing to the music store at Bab Al Bahrain to pick up ‘Seasons’
- How happy I was that ‘South Side’ double wide came in a huge box with guitar picks and other goodies
- Watching them play live for the first time during the ‘Seasons’ tour.
- Leaving Best Buy with 10 copies of ‘Next’ to pass around to my friends
- Getting ‘Alpha’ from Target just so I could get the hilarious ‘The Rim’ b-side track
- Laughing my butt off at Pete the A&R guy
- Hearing a recording during the making of that never ended up on the album, but turned out to be ‘Abuse Me’ finally released during ‘Retrospective 2
- And many more, but for now I offer a story driven review of my experience with ‘Black out the Sun. ’
Blackout the Sun
As I pass the UOB main campus the sun begins to set on a Bahrain Thursday prompting the car interiors to ignite in Orange. Coincidently the dashboard accompanied by the brown interiors mirrored the cover art of ‘Blackout The Sun’.
The acoustics of ‘Memory’ have already begun as I leave the city behind me. I have specifically chosen this southward route as the desert landscape and minimal cars will allow me to take in what is about to come. The music builds up as I drive across my personal field of solitude. As if the intro wasn’t enough to induce every possible human emotion (joy, sorrow, rage, relief, hope, fear) ‘Faithless’ kicks in and my heart begins to race. Signature Sevendust sound. Within 10 Seconds of the song tears begin to stream down my face. The listener is greeted with the signature distortion shortly followed by Lajon Witherspoon’s calm vocalization taking center stage. From then on each instrument ramps up giving your adrenaline the few seconds it needs to galvanize before they completely let loose.
Don’t expect a breather as the pummeling continues with ‘Till Death’. If you haven’t seen the live footage of them preforming this song on their current tour or listened to the track analysis by Clint Lowery on their page this track will still speak volumes to you. By now I’ve already reached Sikheer, home of Bahrain’s monumental Formula 1 track as the opening Snare shot of ‘Mountain’ ignites into three minutes of bluesy-infused melody. The bouncy sing-song grooves allow me to relax and have the first conversation with my sister sitting beside me. The anticipation of what the next track may contain was mutual. The electro-infused opening of ‘Cold As War’ needs only two seconds to let you know that this was going to be an emotionally charged sing-a-long chorus.
“I see the violent rage and make the great escape into the space that gives me closure, we live the life we make until the seasons over”.
It is one thing to read these words, but when you actually listen to Lajon’s execution you can feel the emotion as if it was your own and apply it to your own experiences.
I remember during one of the interviews they mentioned that Joey Belladonna of Anathrax had a tear in his eyes when listening to one of the lines. I am assuming it’s this one.
“Blackout the Sun” the title track arrives driven by an epic chorus accompanied by guitar work reminiscent of Call Me No One. I decided to make a U-turn on the now empty street and take in the entire view of the Bahrain International Circuit in all its glory as ‘Nobody wants it’ starts playing. The upbeat tempo is a sudden change from the rest of the album’s darker riffs as I look at my sister Maryam with a certain expectation. They are confirmed once the chorus kicks in and we couldn’t help laugh in amazement of how this band is able to bring the aggression and make you sing your hearts out. If backstreet boys went metal this song would be it!
“Dead Roses” is fast and energetic and one of the most memorable experiences of this drive. At 1:42 I remember the studio footage during October with Clint nailing this specific part as the hairs stand up on my forearms.
I know what’s coming! The drums sound familiar.
It’s the part Morgan showed off on Youtube. I start screaming to my sister “Wait till you hear this part wait till you hear this!!” and Morgan’s screams infused with the double bass drives me into hysterics. “It’s nice to see you fan girl over something for once Mohammed” Maryam laughs.
“Decay” classic dust and I’m sure all the fans have already upped this into the ‘25 most played songs’ on their itunes since January. This was a perfect choice for a single in my opinion. The energy throughout this song was definitely a statement before the album drops and enticed me for what was to come.
I make my way back to Riffa as I pass by a gunmetal painted sculpture inspired by the Awal Era, aptly suited for the industrialized “Dark AM”. The riffs gave me shocking Nostalgia to Korn’s ‘Life is Peachy’ days. Mid-song’s atmospheric vibe brought back memories from Alpha’s ‘Aggression’.
‘Picture Perfect’ both the name of the next track and now darkened desert-scape making way for the stars to shine as the album nears its end. High Octane and matches the rest of the album in the way each song builds up, reaching an emotional peak vocally and emotionally before concluding. The boys from Atlanta break out the acoustics with ‘Got a Feeling’. An even more down-tempo, southern induced and very ripened effort in comparison to the likes of ‘Angel’s Son’ and ‘Skeleton Song’.
I reach the final stretch of my journey. ‘Murder Bar’ is a name given to one of the locations around the recording of the new album. If you put all the jokes aside during the video footage from the studio, You would expect this to be the trilogy to ‘Face to Face’ and ‘Alpha’. I remember screaming ‘No No!! this album cant be over now, not like this!’. Although Lajon’s vocals was more mellowed out then the rest of the album the guitars were still brutal. Each instrument had its own shining moment in this song. Surprising closer, with subtle industrial sounds fading into silence, enough seconds to leave you alone with your feelings and what you have just witnessed.
With each album I rediscover my love for the band, and to watch them endure life on the road and being away from their loved ones while still providing us with unforgettable tunes. As a fan we have grown with Lajon,Morgan,Vinny,Clint and John. We mourn their loses, rejoice at their achievements. We have seen their love for their family and their children grow. They have treated us as an extended family. It is more then just music ‘Sevendust’ is an experience. If you have been fortunate to see them live or meet the boys you will know exactly what I am talking about. I honestly can’t be luckier to receive an album such as this, and to be able to appreciate the effort behind this work and the love from the band, I could never ask for more. Music has become so commercial over the years and to see a band like this hold their own since the early 90’s is unheard of. Overall I want to say that this album was as a mix of Projected & Call me No One (Just kidding, couldn’t help but jokingly throw this in). I’ll admit the rapid completion of this album and the quick interviews stating that this was just a regular Sevendust album with dark vibes had me worried. In conclusion each track gets 10/10, and all worries were thrown out the window upon hearing the final product.
With each release I am always amazed, however this one took it to another level. I have been waiting my whole life to hear something like this. The uniqueness of this album lays in its ability to blend each track to the next while each song can comfortably hold its own through its subtle flare. If I had to gripe about something, Id wish that the songs were longer but the current length allows me to appreciate each moment put in to the three minutes. I would gladly compare this as a fusion of their past efforts however the product itself has a life of its own, and no instrument and vocal combination has ever worked this well. Sevendust this is your EPIC.
- Till death
- Cold as War
- Blackout the sun
- Nobody wants it
- Dead Roses
- Dark AM
- 10. Decay
- 11. Picture perfect
- 12. Got a feeling
- 13. Murder bar