Sevendust ‘All I See Is War’

Sevendust – All I See Is War comes out May 11th 2018 on Rise Records

It is a rarity for any band to mark 20+ years in the music industry, release close to a dozen records and yet are able to maintain their fire power of ferocious melody through out.

When the rough terrain of the music business causes bands to fall out, change line ups or fizzle out, Sevendust remain forever united. LJ,Morgan, John, Clint & Vinnie are still together after all these years.

The band has had a very unique career; by keeping it in house with their own record Company (7 Bros. Records) after the early years with TVT and Winedark Records, having self produced since 2010, and no official music videos for the past 8 years!. Unorthodox journey aside, as such many reviews, interviews and online articles will  echo the following sentiments; The band has long paid their dues, their energetic live shows will destroy you (in a good way), and as much as they are Metal Titans, they remain humble towards fans that they treat as friends. What I respect most about the bands, is they are all family men, and always display a clear understanding of their values, faith and still promote unity at such volatile times.

In all honesty, as much as the band is dear to me personally, a few factors going in to the new album got me worried. John Connolly had just released a very ambitious Double Album (Projected – Ignite My Insanity) so I was worried of him being creatively burned out. Second, Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette was producing. I was egger for a fresh set of ears to take on a Sevendust Record, however I was not keen with the mixing of the last Alter Bridge album (Although I loved his previous producing efforts with Alter Bridge, Tremonti, and Trivium to name a few). The band remained silent during the recording process. Hardly any teasers, no making of videos on youtube. The band hasn’t failed me for 11 studio albums (If you include Time Travelers & Bonfires), would they hit it out of the park again on ‘All I See is War’?

Fast Forward and Sevendust debut the Single Dirty alongside a wickedly futuristic music video, slapping me hard in the face and destroying the shred of worry I had inside me. As the camera pans around the band, they shred and harmonize together (Every band member was singing too). Don’t ask me, The 2 million + youtube viewers and endless positive comments should be evident on how much drive this song contains. In such short time ‘Dirty’ hit the summit as my #1 most played on my apple music. The intro still sends chills down my spine because I know what I’ve gotten myself into! Although LJ’s vocals remain a centerpiece, I have deeply enjoyed John’s development as a vocalist and the man is sonic both on this record and live.

With a surprise announcement being signed to Rise Records, new interviews show every band member reinvigorated, as if the cycle is starting over again and we are rediscovering the band for the very first time. Each record for me contains so many memories over the past 20+ years with every life event and milestone I have crossed. This band has been there for me during both bitter and sweet times.

What has changed now? for starters Rise Records. Two Music Videos, three singles, and the album isn’t even out yet! With the backing of an ultimate new label, the band has finally issued Merch Bundles and Vinyls too! With the new signing I rememeber Clint tweeting something along the lines of ‘I feel that its a little different this time like we have something to prove’. That sentence stuck with me for almost five months until the single was officially released.

I was fortunate to get the album early, however I still kept half of the record for the official release date. Based on what I’ve heard so far, I am excited to see that this has shaped up to be somewhat of a concept album. Although the references to the issues we face today as a global society are dark and unsettling, the lyrical content and harmonies still interplay to provide cathartic hope, alongside the brutally tight drumming, weight bearing distortion and crushing solos of course.

Both Singles ‘Not Original’ and ‘Medicated’ bring the hooks like calculated boxer pouncing at just the right time. This is a very consistent album so far, however the catchiness of the track ‘Sickness’ is on another level. If their 2015 single ‘Thank You’ deservingly got them their first Grammy Nomination for Metal Song of the Year, the tracks ‘Sickness’, ‘Life Deceives you’ or ‘Dirty’ should get them both a 2018 Nomination and a Grammy WIN.

I think ‘Life Deceives you’  just might dethrone ‘Trust’ for me as the best song they have ever written. Lyrically it speaks to me as a spiritual successor to the track ‘Damaged’ from 2001’s Ultimate Album ‘Animosity’. The song affected me emotionally and to my very core. I could not find it in me to shake it away and carried the feeling with me long after repeated lessons. The contemplative nature of the lyrics, the juxtaposition of Morgan & LJ, the inclusion of Piano speaks volumes to my soul. The ending harmonization is icing on the cake for me. I didn’t think the band could take ‘Letters’ from their 2015 Album ‘Kill the Flaw’ and throttle the emotions even more.

Parts of the song ‘Moment’s reminds me of Clint & Morgan’s Side Project ‘Call me No One’ (2012).

Thoughts on the remaining tracks of the Album that I haven’t listened to yet (I’m keeping until Friday): Other reviews suggest that Risen, Cheers and a few other tracks are on the heavier side, so I am looking forward to taking them with me into the gym this Friday to celebrate the official album release. Part of me wonders if album closer ‘The Truth’ will be a brutal finish like ‘Face to Face’ and ‘Alpha’ were to previous early records perhaps? I would love to see a long track similar to ‘Burn’ from Alpha.

So far I don’t mind that it isn’t as heavy (yet), as the trademark Sing-A-Long with Sevendust is still intact for me.Hey, if you want to call Sevendust, the backstreet boys of metal, or Disney anthems for adults go right ahead, the band brings the hooks like nothing else. You will Sing your lungs out to this record!

Six Tracks in so far this is Sevendust’s Mangum Opus. 10/10 material  and i’m only half way through.

I dont like ranking albums but melodically speaking this is giving Animosity/Seasons (2001/2003) a run for their money.

LJ, Morgan, John, Clint & Vinnie, thanks for treating me like family for all these years. . Congratulations on the new signing, new record and tour. Hope to see you guys again in 2019.

Update: I’ve spent almost a week with the new album. 10/10. Might be the most consistent and mature record of their career. Harmonious Anthems from start to finish. My Favorite Tracks: Descend, Life Deceives You, Sickness, Risen.. if i dont stop ill end up listening the entire album. 

Click Here for Sevendust’s Official Website

Click Here for Sevendust’s Facebook Page

Sevendust-All-I-See-Is-War-11-May-2018

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SEVENDUST: BLACK OUT THE SUN

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.

Anthology

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.

But wait!

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.

Till death…

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.

10/10

Sevendust-Black-Out-the-Sun-

Tracklist:

  1. Memory
  2. Faithless
  3. Till death
  4. Mountain
  5. Cold as War
  6. Blackout the sun
  7. Nobody wants it
  8. Dead Roses
  9. Dark AM
  10. 10. Decay
  11. 11. Picture perfect
  12. 12. Got a feeling
  13. 13. Murder bar