No band in American hard rock has a more enduring spirit than Sevendust. Having endured every trend, fad, and new wave scene for nearly two decades, the Atlanta-based quintet has stayed true to their style and always created high-quality alternative metal with each album. More importantly, they have weathered a great many personal struggles, including lineup changes, addictions, and the loss of family or friends. In the end, Sevendust has always created music that is a product of their experiences, and no album better exemplified that than 2010’s Cold Day Memory. Following their reunion with guitarist Clint Lowery, Sevendust went back to their roots and created one of the best albums they had made in recent years. Although it did not reach the greatest heights that they found on 2001’s Animosity, Cold Day Memory was a showcase of the band trying new things, striving for musical growth, and ultimately rediscovering the passion for creating music with an emotional hook. That passion ignited the fire that was kindled through some side projects, such as Call Me No One (featuring Lowery and drummer Morgan Rose) and Projected (formed by bassist Vinnie Hornsby and guitarist John Connolly). With that fire in their minds, Sevendust entered Architekt Music in New Jersey and created Black Out the Sun, which surpasses Cold Day Memory in every way and is on par with Animosity for featuring the best material of the band’s career.
Sevendust has a reputation for opening their albums with the best songs, and Black Out the Sun does not disappoint. Following the intro track “Memory”, true album opener “Faithless” is absolutely phenomenal. Saturated with infectiously heavy groove and a lead riff that listeners won’t be able to stop headbanging to, “Faithless” is very similar to “Splinter” from Cold Day Memory, but with a darker atmosphere and a middle bridge that has perfectly contrasting tones. It’s a great way to open the album, and it sets the stage for even more excellence to come. “Mountain” sounds like it could have been written by Clutch, as it has incredible Southern rock style, rhythm, and attitude. Listeners then get to “Cold as War” and the title track, both of which show how radio rock ought to sound and why current radio rock bands are generally subpar. “Dead Roses” has one of the best hooks on the album and will draw in any listener almost immediately, before slam-cutting into the impossibly heavy “Decay” and its crushing riffs. The gorgeous ballad “Got a Feeling” shows the vocal prowess of both Lowery and lead vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, both individually and as a pair. The album closes with “Murder Bar”, another riff-laden track that has great ambient effects and synth to back up the main instrumentation.
The reason Black Out the Sun works so well is the mix of emotion it carries. No longer is Sevendust a band that thrives on making cathartic and angry music, as they were in their early years. Now, the band has a more even mixture of emotion in their songs. The important part of it, though, is that their songs always hook into you emotionally and make you feel that emotion to some degree. When listening to “Faithless”, you feel the inner strength of changes becoming reality and making you better. When “Black Out the Sun” plays, you know the agony of losing a loved one suddenly without being able to say goodbye. And when “Decay” comes on, the fury of being fed lies and betrayal by others consumes you completely. Sevendust has crafted a record that you don’t just listen to. You feel every note and every word in your core, steering your emotions, guiding your thoughts. This is the most powerful kind of music that can be crafted, and Sevendust has done it better than any other group in recent memory.
Black Out the Sun easily matches Animosity as being the best album of Sevendust’s career. Both albums show the band at the top of their game both musically and lyrically, proving why they have so much more to offer than most of their contemporaries. With Black Out the Sun, the experience is more diversified, showcasing the growth and maturity that the band has gained in the twelve years since the older album was released. This is the new Sevendust - older, more knowledgeable, and still among the best hard rock and alt-metal bands in existence. And in Black Out the Sun, they’ve gifted the world with an album that will carve a place for itself in your soul and never let it go.
// Notes from the Road
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