To say the past 17 years have been a ride for Sevendust would be an understatement. While they’ve toured the world and established themselves with a dedicated nu-metal fanbase, there have been a plethora of bumps in their bass drum and guitar solo-filled road.
After the band’s first three albums from 1997-2001 went gold, lead guitarist Clint Lowery left the group to work with his brother’s band, “Dark New Day.” By 2006, the band was bankrupt and had the distinction of watching bands that have opened up for them, Incubus, Limp Bizkit, Staind, Nickelback, Godsmack, Drowning Pool and Disturbed, all achieve platinum status- before them.
They continued to produce music for the next few years, but weren’t exactly breaking any sales records, as “Inside,” their last single on their 2008 effort, “Chapter VII: Hope & Sorrow,” failed to chart all.
At their lowest point musically, the band announced that Lowery would rejoin the band. During a year of touring, Sevendust began to write the music for their latest album “Cold Day Memory,” which was released in April of 2010.
With their original lineup back in place, you’d expect the band to relive the glory days. Instead, they have crafted a modern rock/metal monster that is original, frenetic and passionate. Perhaps the headbangers have a soft spot for the poems of Robert Frost, because in the end, taking the road less traveled has made all the difference.
After years of playing with their sound, going from screaming to melodic, from brash to polished, Sevendust has found a way to do it all. This album is an all-you-can eat music sampling of what Sevendust can offer.
The appetizers are inviting and get you comfortable, and showcase the progression that band has made over the years combining metal and progressive rock into a melodic rock dish that satisfies.
“Here and Now,” which ironically, is not one of the band’s singles on the album, is an example of this. The guitar work of John Connolly and Lowery is industrial and gritty throughout and when combined with a catchy hook, this song is perhaps the most radio-friendly track on the album.
If the percussion work of Morgan Rose on “Splinter” was a punch to the face, you’d need plastic surgery after listening to it. Set up by a Dragonforce-esque riff from Lowery, Rose’s bass pedal fires like a demonic machine gun, slicing down enemies from every angle. The bass of work of Vince Hornsby on this track is ravenous, as he is able to help induce a killer pace in a song that thrives on speed.
While these two tracks are easily the most enjoyable on the album and one diehards of the band will most likely cling to overall, the sound is much different from their usual work.
The transformation of lead singer Lajon Witherspoon is what separates “Cold Day Memory” from the rest of the band’s work. While he is able to scream enough on “Splinter” and various other tracks to keep the band’s loyalists in check and maintain their signature gritty, melodic sound, he manages to stretch his style to pleasurable new heights.
This takes the album somewhere much different than any of their fans could have imagined. On “Last Breath,” “Karma” and “Forever,” the wild and dreadlocked Witherspoon embraces a more modern rock tone and sounds like a brazen version of former Fall Out Boy vocalist Patrick Stump.
That, combined with the imaginative, guitar-fueled intros to nearly every song make “Cold Day Memory” fierce, confident and original. The band’s ability to combine elements of Metal, Alternative and Melodic Rock make for a smooth listening experience.
“The End is Coming” does an entertaining job of surprising your ears with a guitar intro reminiscent of an early ‘90s Alice in Chains track. Once the tempo looks set in stone, the melodic and slower vocal work of Witherspoon changes the audio fabric of the song entirely. But a gritty chorus and a moody and passionate guitar solo later make the track like a “Magic Eye” for your ears. The same thing can be said for “Nowhere,” which feels like an ode to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” for the first 10 seconds, but ultimately manages to showcase the band’s ability as melodic rock band.
Through these experiments, Sevendust is unable to be pigeonholed into a specific genre and prove they’re more than good metal band in “Cold Day Memory.”
They’re a good band, period.