Review Summary: Sevendust regress, failing to meet the simplest of expectations.
For the better part of twenty-plus years Sevendust have been that staple flavour of the Georgian alternative metal scene. The somewhat unique edge that Lajon Witherspoon and co. had during the formative years of the band defined the bridge between melodic based rock and heavy metal. The result" Beautiful Sevendust.
I know what you’re thinking. Twelve albums over the course of twenty four years has led to an impressive array of releases mostly staying on the more positive side of critical reception. Summarising a career by saying most of the releases are good and some are even excellent doesn’t give way for too much negativity, until Sevendust’s twelfth studio record, All I See Is War
Fairly, I could see why die hard fans would enjoy Sevendust’s latest offering. At face value it is indeed more of the same. Anthemic guitars, bombastic beats and powerful crooning moments
gave value to the band’s very successful formula over the years. Add to that some truly time relevant lyricism and an emotive range that capitulated the very essence of a band doing everything right (and then some). It’s just that this recycled formula fails to show anything other than the crumpled fragments of a group’s former self. The effect" Well, it’s dirty
So I haven’t got to the nitty gritty of All I See Is War
’s shortcomings. Maybe I run the risk of being not original
, but the truth
of the matter is Sevendust just fail to bring the same power and prestige to their latest offering. The record opener, “Dirty” placates the casual listener by recycling the Cold Day Memory
era introductions. It’s like a brand new piece of paper, crumpled into a ball before being flattened out again. The build is the same but the effect is watered down, barely a whisper of the once creative energy that fueled Sevendust’s writing style recycling their sound down to the nth. The time warp back to 2010 is unwelcoming, pulling at the heartstrings of long time fans while reminding them that Sevendust as a whole are a shadow of their former selves. And while the track itself mentions the album’s title, hooking their fans into the premise; it’s clear that Sevendust can’t commit fully to bringing a socio-politically charged record past the first track as Lajon sings his way into a middling and uninspired “God Bites His Tongue”.
It’s clear that Lajon Witherspoon stands as the band’s biggest achievement. But more of the same from the group as a whole fails to expand on the usual Sevendust standard. The sickness
of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results speaks of a clear and undeniable slump in Sevendust’s ability to write great songs. Easily identifiable as the “Lajon show”, listeners receive doses of varying monotony culminating in one of the most disappointing albums all year. The highlights may be few and far between on Sevendust’s 2018 piece, but it’s difficult to simply skim over “Life Deceives You” without finding praise for its ballad-esque verses and powerful chorus lines. There’s nothing technically amazing on show here but it deviates away from the typical Sevendust formula (only just a little) but instead hints at the band’s ability to write tight, well thought grooves. Before meandering back into the disappointment found on the rest of the record.
When you take a look at each component separately and then combine them as a whole the result is less than average. On paper, this looks like the standard Sevendust affair giving way to the very notion that only comes with experience in songwriting. By all accounts the band should be gearing up for another round of cheers
and applause, instead life deceives you
with a flat, mundane series of rehashed ideas. If it wasn’t for “Risen” (the new album’s heaviest track) All I See Is War
would be a complete write off. Blistering riffage meets stomping percussion where Lajon’s backing band actually contribute in any positive manner.
When taking the album’s production values into consideration, All I See Is War
is polished by the stock standard of modern day values. Most of the group’s elements come out shining, until they’re buried behind a top heavy melodic approach. Naturally, Witherspoon’s vocal prowess dominates, allowing for some of the bass work to get lost in the mix. If Sevendust weren’t so riff orientated it would be yet another flaw to add to the monotony. As a last saving grace however, it fails to effect the act’s new music at all.
Overall, the descend
in quality between such well received records as Black Out The Sun
and Kill The Flaw
highlight a stark change. Fairly, most listeners wouldn’t expect a Seasons Version 2
, self medicated
to the fact that change happens. At least listeners were warned of the upcoming song styles when Sevendust released “Not Original” a few weeks ago, but no one could anticipate just how bleak and inwardly retrospective their new album would actually be. For forty-six minutes Sevendust give way to a by numbers formula, regressing completely into their past without passable fruition. Sevendust’s once great catalogue has been smeared into destructive recollection of memory, plagiarising their own work without any heart or thought. Maybe Sevendust will be great again. Until then, god bites his tongue