With the band’s 12th studio album All I See Is War due out soon via Rise Records, and the band’s first new song in a few years out now, there’s no better time than right now to examine and discuss the profound influence the alt-metal band has had on the current music landscape, as well as their own musical quality and evolution. Their self-titled debut album also turns 21 in April. There’s so much that could be said, but we’ll keep it relatively succinct.
Sevendust’s fiery yet melodic brand of hard rock straddles the line between the aforementioned genre and heavier alternative and nu-metal. Their self-titled debut LP, which actually turns 21 in April, famously sold 311 copies in its first week of release in 1997. However, the band’s constant touring and perseverance eventually helped it get gold-certified. The album is front-loaded with some of the band’s most iconic and technically impressive tracks – “Bitch”, “Black”, and “Terminator” are 3 obvious standouts – but so is album closer “Born To Die”. Released at the height of the nu-metal craze, Sevendust’s influences were closer to the bands that inspired nu-metal, like Faith No More and even Pantera.
Subsequent albums, like Animosity, Home, and Seasons, cemented the band as hard rock standouts – even while some of their peers suffered commercially and critically. Given that the band has always been great at songwriting and also not afraid to take chances (the acoustic tribute to Lynn Strait, “Angel’s Son”, is a great example), it’s no surprise Sevendust weathered the music industry storm that was ahead – both in popular rock music, and in the decline of CD sales.
Sevendust’s more recent material has been highly impressive. While some fans consider their mid-period material to be relatively weak by comparison (specifically, 2005’s Next and its follow-up, 2007’s Alpha), those albums still had some standout songs. “Burn”, the penultimate song from Alpha, shows the band completely locked in musically. Considering the song is over 9 minutes long, it still ranks as one of the boldest pieces of music Sevendust has ever written, and given the band has released dozens of songs over the years, that says a lot.
While the band’s last 3 records have been impressive in their consistency and balance, 2013’s Black Out The Sun is a strong contender for the best Sevendust album, period. That is not hyperbole or fan service; it’s the late-period Sevendust album that has it all. Acoustic songs (“Memory”), hard-hitting metal numbers (“Till Death”, “Faithless”), and obvious prime cuts that showcase vocalist Lajon Witherspoon’s supreme vocal abilities (“Decay”, “Mountain”) all abound on what sometimes feels like a “greatest hits” album. Black Out The Sun isn’t quite on that level, but make no mistake, it’s a highly engaging album that also ranks as a rare example of a “mature” album being exactly that – a refinement on a core sound. Few veteran rock and metal acts are great at this, which puts Sevendust in a class with their peers like Deftones, Chevelle, and even Breaking Benjamin.
What the future ahead holds for Sevendust is uncertain. However, that’s only because the future itself holds as such. Will the band’s upcoming album All I See Is War eventually rank among the band’s best? Only time will tell, but Sevendust fans know two things. One, the band of brothers (Hornsby, Rose, Witherspoon, Lowery, and Connolly) rank among the tightest units of any veteran rock band. And two, Sevendust will continue to create uncompromising alt-metal with genuine soul and seething aggression in the same breath. After all, they’ve done it for 20+ years. What’s another string of albums, anyway?