Review Summary: Still swingin', and surprisingly leaving one hell of a mark whilst doing so.
The style that Sevendust work in has never been, and never will be about reinventing the wheel. The nu metal movement was always a flexing competition, and that custom still applies to the musical approach of the surviving alternative metal bands, such as Sevendust, in the aftermath of that scene's demise. Though Sevendust always stuck out in a world overflowing with Korn wannabes; they took the most aggressive features of Pantera-inspired groove metal, Ministry-influenced industrial metal, and Living Colour-esque funk metal, and combined with frontman Lajon Witherspoon’s unique vocal fashion that incorporated soul, R&B, and even gospel styles, Sevendust boasted a unique and masculine sound.
However, one special sound can only be done so many times over before it gets tiring, and the albums Sevendust produced in the later years of the early 2000s mainly either suffered from being just plain knuckleheaded or seemingly restrained and watered down for the sake of accessibility. The music in that timeframe in the band’s career was sorely missing lead guitarist and secondary singer Clint Lowery who left the band in 2004, to only later return as a fulltime member in 2010 to help make the group’s eighth effort, Cold Day Memory
, which sounded like a severely toned down version of the assertive music he and the band were originally pumping out.
The group’s ninth album Black Out the Sun
is exactly the kind of music that fans would have hoped to hear from Lowery rejoining the band. Sevendust is officially back in business with fulfilling and firm metal anthems that erupt with all the same antagonizing riffs and jabbing hooks that made the band such a powerful force at their peak. Witherspoon can still effortlessly alternate between snarling grunts and gliding melodies, and the brief lyrical phrases yelled by drummer Morgan Rose add a potent punch to the verses and choruses and heighten the effectiveness. Lowery provides his share of vocals for the album, complementing Witherspoon’s croons with just as much vocal chemistry as they’ve had in the band’s best work, which makes for very solidly layered vocal harmonies that have a significantly strong kick.
While there are nuances to be found such as the group’s experimentation with a talk box guitar effect on “Cold As War,” and the elegant atmospheric instrumental introduction track “Memory,” Black Out the Sun
’s main flaw is that it still isn’t as original as it could be, but that’s really not what it’s all about anyway. What actually pushes this Sevendust album above any other mediocre alternative metal album, as well as all of the albums the group has made in a decade, is the sheer power of Black Out the Sun
’s metallic aural assault. Sevendust have burst through their own floodgates, and by toning that compacted muscle in their guitar rhythms, they’ve created an album that’s both considerably well-wounded on a sonic scale, and pushes their own boundaries in how heavy and loud they can get while still remaining infectious.
It’s impressive that a band with eight other albums under their belts, whose strength and spirit was starting to deteriorate, can make a comeback album like Black Out the Sun
where they’re this militant and unhinged this late into their discography. To rekindle a dwindling flame that once burned bright is no easy feat, but Sevendust have managed here to sound like they're in their prime once again, despite the type of music they're dealing in not being in the position of domination that it once was. Rumors are abound that Black Out the Sun
may be Sevendust’s final album, and if that’s so, it couldn’t be a better way for the band to go out all together, and with a reverberating bang.