Formerly known as Crawlspace, their first recording, an appearance on the "Mortal Combat: More Kombat" soundtrack was under that name. Georgia's Sevendust has risen to the top of the so-called "nu-metal" heap thanks in part to the help of Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French who helped manage the band early on. The band fuses low-end riffing, melodic melodies, and the soulful, powerful vocals of Lajon Witherspoon to create a potent sound that is heavy and radio-friendly.
Sevendust (TVT) 1997
1. "Black" (4:09)
Let me be clear about one thing, I HATE nu-metal. Bands like Korn and Limp Biscrap make me want to vomit! I also don't like grunge and think that grunge was to metal what a worm/virus is to a computer. It totally ruined good-time rock and roll and heavy metal. Who wants to listen to depressing music with a band dressed like they just woke up? Not me! Sorry, but give me real metal or give me silence. However, I must say that any of these new bands I have given a chance to at least once. I have bought used cds of Marilyn Manson, Korn, Linkin Park, etc., to check them out, only to get rid of them within a few days of purchasing them. Sevendust, are one of the very few that I found of any interest of the nu-metal genre. I would probably not even have given this disc the time of day had not a good friend, and fellow metal monger, suggested I check it out. Of course, my other interest was the fact that Jay Jay French was the bands producer and Mark Mendoza mixed this album. (both of Twisted Sister.) Surprisingly, this disc doesn't suck. (What a flattering review huh? wow he must really love it, he said "this disc doesn't suck" Ha! Ha!) Anyhow, there are most definitely some more modern elements mixed within Sevendust's music, however, the band seems to me to be as much influenced by thrash and heavy metal as anything else. Sure there are plenty of stop-start "grooves," and the vocals certainly would not fit within the confines of thrash, but they certainly cannot be considered nu-metal by any stretch of the imagination. Best of all, there are no psuedo, wanna-be rappers on this disc. (Horrrayyy!!!) If anything, Sevendust reminds me of a hybrid mix of Machine Head, Anthrax and Living Colour. Vocalist Lajon especially has that Living Color quality to his vocals and vocal melodies. Lyrically, the band is dark, although not necessarily interesting. For example, Face" candidly describes a consensual sex/bondage situation. I certainly could have lived my whole life and been perfectly happy never reading those lyrics. However, other songs deal with social issues, addressing such topics as racism ("Black") depression ("Too Close to Hate") and drug addiction ("Wired"). Overall, a far better disc than I was anticipating even with it's disappointments. (thanks for the disc Arttie.)
Sevendust - Home (TVT) 1999
1. "Home" (3:34)
Killer disc! Sevendust's debut was good, but "Home" is better. Once again "Home" is a mix of the melodic and the angry and aggressive. However, this time 'round they managed to hook a whale with the songwriting. Songs like "Denial," "Feel So" and "Crumpled" are infectious. However, "Home" and "Licking Cream" are even better. "Home" will have you banging your head to it's infectious groove, while singing along to the chorus. "Licking Cream," despite the bizarre title, is another intense song and features a mix of aggressive, angry male vocals and melodic female vocals. (The female vocals are provided by someone who goes by the name Skin.) Call 'em nu-metal, call 'em alternative, or call 'em heavy metal. It really doesn't matter 'cause this album rules! Overall, the best Sevendust release yet. (thanks Arttie)
Sevendust-Animosity (TVT) 2001
1. "Tits on a Boar"
A bit more on the radio-oriented, nu-metal side than the band's first album, but to be honest, I still like it. "Animosity" adds a bit more aggression than the band's debut as well as some industrial sounds and samples. While I would never label Sevendust as a melodic band, they have a tinge of melody that most modern nu-metal bands do not have. However, most of this comes from frontman Lajon Witherspoon, rather than the music itself, which for the most part is your typical unimaginative, lifeless, riff-driven, anger fest. The melodic vocals are really what make this band stand out from others I have heard in this genre. However, when the band is collectively at the most melodic, on songs like "Trust" and "Crucified" they are truly a great band. The mix of melancholy emotion and heavy riffs, along with the mixture of vocal styles in these two tracks are quite compelling. I hope that Sevendust continues to explore more in this direction as opposed to tracks like "Tits on a Boar" which sounds like every other Limp-Korn-crap band out there. I also thought the balladish "Xmas Day" was excellent. Once again it's the soulful vocals of Witherspoon that command the listener's attention. Overall, a decent cd, despite the 'nu-metal' label. (Once again, thanks for the disc Arttie.)
Sevendust - Seasons (TVT) 2003
I must admit, while I liked Sevendust's last platter "Animosity", I didn't think it came close to their first two albums and was a bit disappointed. I am not ever sure what it was about that album, but it was quickly forgotten and I tended to pick up Sevendust or Home before I'd pick up "Animosity." Well, whatever the problem was, it was resolved in "Seasons." This CD absolutely ruled my CD player for weeks upon getting it in the mail. Once again it is Lajon Witherspoon soulful, R&B-influenced vocals that set Sevendust apart from every other band labeled "nu-metal" today. I sound like a broken record on that line, but it is as much the case here as it was on past CDs. Lajon's infectious vocals and harmonies laid on top of the groove and heavy music laid down by Sevendust just captivating. Really, I like it that much and in general I am not a fan of nu-metal. Lead single "Enemy" is probably my least favorite song on this CD. This song is drummer Morgan Rose's attack on former Coal Chamber singer B. Dez Fafara. Not sure of the whole riff going on there and don't really care. This song has the band in an almost rapcore setting, which is of no interest to me. The rest of the disc however, is spectacular. "Disease," "Suffocate," "Broken Down," "Separate," and "Skeleton Song" are all excellent songs combining a sense of melody in a chaotic, heavy sound. The production here is some of the best that band has come up with as well. Not to slight their past discs, but Butch Walker did an excellent job here. On top of an enjoyable CD, the initial pressing of this disc also comes with a bonus DVD featuring the making of the album, band interviews, and videos, including a live acoustic version of early hit "Bitch." This is the one and only CD of this kind that will make my Top 20 list of 2003.
Sevendust - Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live (TVT) 2004
Southside Double-Wide documents Sevendust's 2003 acoustic tour on both CD and DVD. This combination of releasing a live DVD along with the CD has become popular in the last few years. While it is cool to see the DVD material, I tend to listen to music more than I watch it, so I don't usually get a chance to watch the performance more than a few times. It is the music I am mostly interested it. The majority of the material her is taken from the band's September 12, 2003, gig at the Georgia Theatre in Athens. The sound quality and musicianship is excellent, as would be expected from one of the top modern bands. However, it is abundantly clear that it is Lajon Witherspoon's vocals that are at center stage on this CD. His soulful vocals carry this disc, even moreso than on the band's heavy studio platters. This lighter, acoustic setup simply emphasizes his vocals. Guitarist Clint Lowery handles lead vocals for Johnny Cash's "Hurt", and does a commendable job as well. Many of today's "nu" bands would simply sound like crap in this setting, but Sevendust sound excellent. To be quite honest, however, despite liking this disc quite a bit, I much prefer the band's heavier side. The deluxe box edition of "Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live" also includes a guitar pick and collector's cards, along with the CD and DVD.
Sevendust - Next (Winedark) 2005
DISC ONE (CD)
DISC TWO (DVD)
Since we last heard from Sevendust several changes have taken place. First, Clint Lowery left Sevendust to join a crappy, post-grunge band called Dark New Day. He was promptly replaced with ex-Snot guitarist Sonny Mayo. Then Sevendust departed longtime label TVT and joined forces with Universal-distributed startup label, Winedark. In many bands, losing a key member or moving to a different label can cause big changes within a band. So what has changed with Sevendust? Unbelievably, not a whole lot. However, "Next" does seems a whole lot angrier and heavier than "Seasons". Sevendust still have those infectious, D-tuned riffs and grooves, they still have Lajon's soulful voice, and still are not afraid to mix in some balladry with the heavy material. "Hero" opens up the CD and is most certainly one of the band's heaviest and more angry numbers. This aggression doesn't let up until track five, "This Life". This song is a beautiful ballad and is Witherspoon's tribute to his newborn child. "Shadows in Red" is also an acoustic based ballad which is just dominated by Lajon's awesome voice. "Failure" is a killer melodic number as well. "Desertion" is sort of an odd song. The chorus is a heavy, but the verses have this eerie sounding clean guitar with Lajon almost rapping over. (Not really rapping, but almost.) "The Last Song" is yet another merciless, anger fueled, tongue lashing at someone. This is pure anger set to music. For the most part the rest of the CD is exactly what you'd expect from Sevendust, although "Never" has a slightly industrial metal feel to it. I am sure some are going to complain that Sevendust are just revisting the same sound they had on past albums. Personally, I applaud the band for staying the course. This band knows their strengths and weaknesses and they know what works for them. Only time will tell if it dominates my CD player in the longrun like "Seasons" did, but as for now "Next" is yet another winner in the Sevendust catalog.
Sevendust - Best Of (Chapter One 1997-2004) (TVT) 2005
1. "Black" (4:10)
Any "Best Of" album usually spells the end of an era for the band. This is exactly the case with Sevendust-Best Of (Chapter One 1997-2004). This marks the end of Sevendust's longtime relationship with TVT records. It also marks the departure of original guitarist Clint Lowery who was replaced by ex-Snot guitarist Sonny Mayo. This CD would have not been in my collection had it not been for the four "bonus tracks" included at the end of the CD. "Coward" is a B-Side track from "Seasons" that was apparently only release in the UK. Likewise "Rain" is a UK only b-side. The last two tracks are covers. "Inner City Blues" is a Marvin Gaye cover and "School's Out" is a cover of Alice Cooper's anthem. The Marvin Gay song sounds like it was written for Sevendust. The band took a ton of liberties with the Alice Cooper cover, although I sort of dig their heavy, downtuned version of the song. The rest of the CD manages to pick out some of the band's finer moments. "Angel's Son" is an outstanding ballad. "Bitch" is one of my favorite songs by the band. "Enemy" has enough foul language in it to make Ted Nugent blush. I'm sort of surprised that "Licking Cream" wasn't included on this compilation. However, I suppose like any fan, there are always going to be songs I think should be included that others won't.
Sevendust - Alpha (7 Bros/Asylum) 2007
Alpha is aptly named, as Sevendust have returned to their beginnings here. Sevendust have been together for 10-plus years now and this is their sixth studio album. They are a hard working band who has consistently released quality albums over the years. Not even the departure of one of their principal songwriters, guitarist Clint Lowery, in 2004 slowed them down. However, their first album with guitarist Sonny Mayo fell a bit more on the aggressive, angry side of things. "Alpha", on the other hand, returns the band more to their roots of "Home" and the self-titled debut. To my ears, "Alpha" seems a bit less angry than "Next", and Lajon tends to sing a lot more on this album, whereas on "Next" he tended to use more screaming. Songs like "Deathstar", "Clueless", "Under" and "Burn" dispense with much of the melody they are known for, instead of just relying on pure, weighty aggression. In other words, "Alpha" is an even mix of heavy aggression and melody, giving this CD the elements that make Sevendust so infectious. I don't see any of these songs being played much on the radio, save for maybe ""Under", but then that's not necessarily a bad thing either. I doubt that "Alpha" will make any new fans of the band, as their sound really hasn't changed, nor do I see this CD as becoming the next "in thing" in heavy music. However, those who are already fans of this band have another excellent album to add to their collection. "The Rim" is a bonus track on the CD sold at Target stores. I'm not sure if the song was available on any other versions.
1. Inside" (4:36)
Sevendust return with their seventh studio album, Chapter VII: Hope & Sorrow, produced by Sean Groove, Morgan Rose & John Connolly. On this album Sevendust collaborated with outside artists including Chris Daughtry (of American Idol fame) and members of Alterbridge. Frankly these names don't really mean much to me. However, the music contained herein does. I suppose these people were brought in to add some rock radio success.
Not since "Seasons" in 2003 has a Sevendust album grabbed me like this one did. What is packed within this CD is music that I would describe as both melodic and frantically heavy. Schizophrenic was the word that came to mind while listening to this album. At one moment the music is melodic and soothing only to break into a frantic, angry groove in the next. Similarly, Lajon's vocals are a mish-mash of clean vocals and angry screaming. There really isn't anything "new" about Sevendust's sound here. Sevendust haven't drastically altered their sound over the years, choosing instead to stay the course while progressing with each new release, much like you would expect from Motorhead or AC/DC. They know what they do best and they stick to that.
What they do offer that is surprising here are a few guitar solos. "Hope" offers a shredding lead break. I quickly read through the liner notes hoping to find out who recorded this solo and found out that it was guest guitarist Mark Tremonti from Alterbridge. I would love to see Sevendust incorporate more solos like this into their songwriting. In the opening track, after a short industrial opening, Sevendust open up with a song that has some machine gun riffing. In the middle of the song Lajon screams, "Here comes the payback" just before going into one of those chunky breakdowns. I can only imagine how much cooler the song would have been with a shredding thrash metal guitar solo over the breakdown. I can imagine this song is going to make for a great concert opening for the tour to support this album. "Fear" also incorporates a bit of lead guitar, although more on the melodic side. Likewise, the first single "Prodigal Son" offers a short solo break.
One of my favorite tracks is the melodic, acoustic based "The Past". This song Chris Daughtry offers some vocals in this song. Frankly I think Lajon would have been better off singing all the parts himself. Lajon is a great vocalist with a distinct voice. Daughtry does nothing for me and sounds sort of cookie cutter, like most of the American Idol stars, in my opinion.
Just prior to the released of "Hope & Sorrow" the band has parted ways with guitarist Sonny Mayo and hooked back up with original guitarist Clint Lowery. Lowery was a key writer in the band prior to his departure and wrote some of my favorite songs on past albums. I now anxiously await what the band will release next.
Sevendust - Cold Day Memory (Asylum Records) 2010
1. Memory (1:24)
It's been nearly three years since Sevendust released "Cold Day Memory", which was an outstanding album from the band. During that period of time the various members involved themselves in a variety of side projects. However, despite the years between releases and the various side project, "Black Out The Sun" sounds like the band never took a break.
Sevendust continue to deliver the same heavy one-two punch that "Cold Day Memory" served up. The usual chugging riffs, down-tuned guitars, heavy grooves, pounding rhythm section and Witherspoon’s lush and soulful vocals are all present and accounted for. As a whole the album is heavy, with the exception of "Got A Feeling" which is the band's lone excursion into power ballad territory. Sevendust have always had a knack for good songwriting. The band varies tempos and brings down the 'heaviness' of a song to give it peaks and valleys. The same holds true for the thirteen tracks on "Black Out the Sun".
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the new grit and grind that Witherspoon adds to his vocal arsenal. Though he has added a grunt and growl from time to time in the past, there is a greater prominece of Lowery’s harsh growls, especially in tracks such as album opener "Faithless, as well as "Till Death" and "Decay". This gives the album a slightly darker feel, though in all reality, it still sounds like Sevendust. Critics will surely accuse the band of not progressive. However,"Black Out the Sun" is a solid album and fans of the band will never fault the band for doing what they do best and delivering the good.