Review Summary: A fantastic album, especially given the circumstances surrounding the recording and release.
Prior to the release of the lead single off Next
, the oft-played Ugly
, there were only two songs that seemed to have made an impact on mainstream rock radio from Sevendust, given the frequency with which they were played: the angry and quite heavy Enemy
and Face to Face
. This was and still is unfortunate, as Sevendust was one of the more consistently great rock bands to emerge in the latter portion of the 90's. Upon the release of Ugly
, intrigue was quite high, as it demonstrated, to those unfamiliar with most of Sevendust's work, that there was a different side of Sevendust. Rather than simply rehashing the same angry song with different melodies, Ugly
demonstrated to radio listeners that the group could succeed in releasing a song that was heavy musically and lyrically, that also demonstrated the extreme talent of the lead vocalist LaJon Witherspoon. The song was a perfect release to radio as a lead single, as it's the most indicative what Sevendust can do, exemplified on the rest of Next
The album starts out in typical Sevendust fashion, with a heavy riff, pounding drums and screamed vocals, the latter courtesy of the most recognizeable member of Sevendust, the underrated Morgan Rose. Throughout the song, LaJon and Morgan take turns belting out their lyrics, with Morgan always providing the screams; though LaJon's vocals are equally effective, he maintains his harsher vocals right through to the chorus, where he demonstrates his fantastic cleans. Hero
is one of the heaviest on the album, and one of the best ways to open up the album. As already mentioned, Ugly
was released as the first single, and it was a smart one at that. The song sees the guys tone down the heaviness a bit, despite the heavy intro, and LaJon maintains his clean vocals throughout, leaving behind the harsher vocals of Hero
. The climb of the song sees the contrasting vocal styles of Morgan and LaJon working quite well, as Morgan begins a line with his screams and LaJon finishes with his cleans. The extreme contrast makes the pre-chorus so much more interesting than if one or the other had done it all themselves. Lyrically speaking, the song is a bit dark, as well, with the chorus "It's hard to keep you by my side/Haunted by the vision/too ugly/for one day/Go live your life."
Though it may not have been meant as a truly dark song, the music and accompanying music video make it difficult to not feel as though the song was meant to be a despondent, dark tune.
Though the two opening tracks are certainly among Sevendust's best songs, the album is not without its faults. This Life
, while touching in its lyrical content and fantastic vocal performance, seems just too forced when surrounded by the heavy music portrayed in the rest of the album. Credit them for going outside of the box on this one, but the song just doesn't fit well with the rest of the album, creating a slight hiccup midway through. In hindsight, the song would have fit beautifully on their album Chapter VII
. Another of the songs that could have been cut from the final pressings could have been See and Believe
, as it really offers nothing new or exciting on the album. The chorus is another fine example of LaJon's vocals, but seems completely uninspired, while the music is dull and repetitive, making for one of Sevendust's more forgettable tracks.
contains quite a few songs that are both heavy and very catchy. Among the other highlights, apart from the already established opening tracks, are the angry The Last Song
, the extremely heavy Pieces
, and the very catchy Never
. The former, The Last Song
, is probably one of the more aggressive songs Sevendust had released in recent memory. Primarily, Morgan seems to be the main focus on vocals for this one, though once again it turns into a back and forth between he and LaJon, creating a menacing and downright angry feeling. Making that even more apparent is the fact that for the majority, chorus excluded, the music takes a backseat to the dueling vocals, where LaJon gives up on the cleans, cursing and yelling virtually as much as Morgan. The profanity laced lyrics seem to cement this as their angriest track, especially indicative in the final lines, where Morgan and LaJon end by screaming "this is the last time/you piece of s*it/this is the last time/F*** YOU!"
Now, while the majority of the lyrics really are not great by any stretch, the anger exuded by the two vocalists and the heaviness of the music make the song just too hard to dislike.
The next high point, Pieces
, continues with the onslaught introduced with the first two tracks. Pieces
is easly the hardest hitting track on the album, where Morgan really makes his presence known, not only because of his vocals, but because of the fantastic performance behind the kit. The guitars are heavy, the drumming frantic, and the back and forth between LaJon's harsh vocals and Morgan's screaming keep the heaviness at a constant high. Finally, the last of the true high points occurs at the tail end, the extremely catchy Never
. For the most part, the music is subdued, and LaJon keeps his clean vocals throughout, but the chorus is extremely uptempo and among the catchiest on the album. Further, the vocal distortion and melodies create an interesting build up to said chorus. While not musically interesting for the most part, the catchiness of the chorus and the vocals make for a great song for the end of the album: something different for the listeners to remember the tail end by.
is better than it should have been, given that Clint left prior to recording and that the guys funded the recording themselves. The angst is still alive and well, and the melodies are among some of the best the band have released to date. The constant back and forth between LaJon and Morgan continues to keep the vocals very interesting, and the music is still very solid despite the departure of Mr Lowery. The band knows how to kick up the anger and heaviness when they want, as apparent on Hero, Pieces
, and The Last Song
, but they can tone it down when necessary, as proven by high points Ugly
should go down as one of Sevendust's best albums, especially given the circumstances surrounding the release and the quality of the music they managed to put onto record.
The Last Song