Review Summary: A Token-Piece of late 90's Alternative-Metal
For their second studio release "Home," Sevendust chose to slow things down just a tad, lower the note-scheme, and highlight the talents of singer LaJon Witherspoon. Coming out in 1999, the album makes use of many vintage nu-metal tactics that were commonplace during the era. Many simple two chord hooks are used, as well as light electronic sampling, and drum beats that are purely modern, relying on almost no past influences for inspiration.
In a way, "Home" is the epitome of aggro-rock; thriving on booming low notes, tense melodies, and precise guitar-chugging. All of this is a hard shell to penetrate, full of thick textures that establish the density of this music. They manage to make some of their verses somewhat catchy, but catchiness isn't the name of the game with this album. Sevendust aims to garner listeners' attention by illustrating the steroid-injected strength of their sound, instead of playing with hooky riffs and jingles. While songs like "Denial" or "Licking Creme" may beable to produce addicting chorus riffs, they stand in a terrain covered mostly with tones that are grimey and dirty. The overall goal on “Home” appears to be saturating the air with instrumentation, be it sweet or sour.
The opening title track is built almost solely upon Clint Lowery's single-note syncopated chugging and Morgan Rose's corresponding quick bass-drumming. The verse spreads across a two bend-note broken melody that transitions back into the single note bludgeoning for the chorus. While there is a lack of beauty present in the music at times, there is always elegance in Lajon Witherspoon’s vocal performance. Maybe Witherspoon doesn't scream very loudly, or maniacally, but he sings without an awkward moment sliding by. Five times out of 10 in fact, Witherspoon will astound you with his mash-up style of soul and heavy metal.
In the heavier cuts “Crumpled” and “Rumble Fish” the machinistic guitar strumming and identical bass-lines are completely unseasoned on their own, but Witherspoon adds only the finest spices to the mix, and delivers a dish aimed to fill you up more than please your taste buds. It manages to do both well, but it’s still somehow apparent that these aren’t the absolute, most premium-rated cuts of meat. The second half of “Feel So” sees LaJon stepping back a few feet to only draw so much attention, while Lowery pummels you with a riff that could have ignited Static-X’s entire career. There is a noticeable disruption in the balance here but Sevendust fans most likely will understand if the group’s budget can’t bring in the #1 sirloin slabs.
Looking past the majority of songs on here and their diamond-esque hardness, there are also a number of briefly majestic tunes. “Waffle” has a verse melody that slowly floats away while Witherspoon performs his most passionate singing on the record. The chorus then rolls around with the thunderous pluck of Lowery’s axe, as well as a now furious and howling Witherspoon. The introductory guitar tone of “Grasp” is dressed in effects that produce a dreamy feel, and transitions fluently into one of the group’s most well-synchronized rhythms on the album.
All in all, Sevendust’s “Home” is one of the beefiest alt-metal albums to date. Boasting few vocal flaws, satisfactory bass work, and a barricade of loud and low guitars, the album leaves little to criticize and a lot to love. Nothing since Helmet has been this raw and mechanical, and in the art of heavy music, it works out just fine. Some moments do beg for more creativity, and the guys aren’t as memorable as most players in their league. But when it comes right down to it, “Home” is a groovy alternative metal joyride that you will not want to skip one song of.