Sevendust, Cold Day Memory

Sevendust, Cold Day Memory

Back in the late ’90s, I was in a magazine with Atlanta metal dudes Sevendust. No, really; okay, so it wasn’t me so much as it was my now long-dead band, but still. It was a pretty monumental thing for us at the time — we’d sent a copy of our tape to a magazine up in Boston called INSTANT that I liked, and lo and behold, they liked it and ran an interview with us, alongside interviews with Knapsack, In My Eyes, Bad Religion, The Vehicle Birth(!), and yep, some nü-metal-sounding band I’d never heard of before called Sevendust.

At the time, I’ll admit, I flat-out loathed anything even remotely resembling nü-metal, but I ended up stumbling across some of the band’s music, and my jaw dropped — the band didn’t fit the standard nü-metal mold, substituting intelligence and raw, cut-wide-open emotion for braggadocio and shock-rock gimmickry, and hell, frontman Lajon Witherspoon could sing. The music was heavy but melodic, with interesting little industrial-sounding touches. I walked away impressed.

Fast-forward a full twelve years, and Sevendust have outlived both my crappy band and INSTANT, cranking out seven full-lengths in the meantime, the most recent of which is 2010’s Cold Day Memory. Listening to the album, I’m struck both by how true the band’s stayed to their metal-but-not sound and how prescient they turned out to be on that first self-titled disc — the guitars are pummeling and heavy as hell but still hold tight to the melody, the vocals growl and snarl and soar high above the noise, and the song structures dance across the prog-metal line and back again.

If any of that sounds familiar, it should, because it’s pretty much a blueprint for the alternametal of our present day; the rough outline and all the crucial parts are there. Am I saying Sevendust, despite their cult, not-quite-heavyweight status, somehow influenced all the biggest alternametal bands of today? Nah, I won’t go that far; it’s more likely that the world simply caught up with these guys. (Although that long-ago interview, ironically, was subtitled “Redefining Metal” — maybe the INSTANT writer had a moment of clairvoyance or something…)

And going by Cold Day Memory, it’s not too late for Sevendust to grab hold and ride this new-old sound to glory. The album fires on all cylinders, the band roaring through a dozen tracks that are alternately sharp and dangerous and sweetly yearning, cranked down so tightly they fit together like the pieces of a finely-crafted puzzle. All the elements I loved on the first listen are still there: fiery, razor-edged guitars that know how to dive deep into a melody while staying heavy as hell, the soulful, sky-touching vocals, and the sideways-stepping prog-rock tendencies.

It works particularly well on opening track “Splinter,” which comes off like a less-operatic Killswitch Engage (and I swear, when I first heard KE’s Howard Jones, Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon was the first vocalist that popped into my head), the hopeless-yet-driving melancholy of “Nowhere,” and “Ride Insane,” with its head-snapping, chaingun-sounding drum break and call-and-response vocals. That said, there’s hardly a bad track on here — as albums go, it hits the mark with nearly every track.

All of which makes me feel weirdly happy for these guys. It feels like after years of not quite hitting the right moment to make it, Sevendust have finally managed to end up where they need to be; here’s hoping the world’s paying attention this time.

[Sevendust is playing the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival 9/5/11 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, along with Avenged Sevenfold, Three Days Grace, Seether, Bullet For My Valentine, Escape The Fate, Black Tide, Art of Dying, & The Black Cloud Collective.]
(7Bros. Records; Sevendust -- http://www.sevendust.com/; Sevendust (Facebook) -- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sevendust/25493613958; Sevendust (Myspace) -- http://www.myspace.com/sevendust)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Monday, September 5th, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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