on May 11, 2018
Sevendust have launched their 12th studio album to date, is it a return to form amidst a Nu Metal revival?
(Review of album starts at paragraph 3)
Sevendust have been one of those bands that have persisted through the last 20 years and have continuously put out solid records, while also being able to maintain popularity. Sevendust is also for me, unfortunately, a band that fell off my radar for a long time. I have their Animosity album which i enjoyed back when it released and have always generally liked their music. I also incredibly enjoy Projected(side project of both John Connolly and Vinnie Hornsby) immensely. I've even seen them live, which was fantastic. Over the years I have seen their albums continue to get good reviews and planned on buying them, but never did for some reason or another.
That changed when I saw the debut song and video for this album Dirty. I saw it on my YouTube feed and the thumbnail was a picture of a dark room with florescent lights surrounding the band vertically. I thought, 'Ah that must be an old video by them, looks very Matrix/2000's-y. So I clicked on it and the song kicked me in the gut so to say. It started out with the crunchy strumming, then kicked into that signature Sevendust heavy, yet melodic riffs. That double bass by the incredible Morgan Rose thumping behind the guitars and bass. Lajon's unique baritone growl then comes in, carrying with it that gruff aggression his voice always seems to portray. The song left me kind of in aw, so I pre-ordered All I See Is War immediately, then because I couldn't get enough, I bought Kill The Flaw, which was a good album in it's own right. Spoilers, I plan and buying into their back catalog until I own all their music.
Today Sevendust's new album graced my doorstep and unfortunately I didn't get to listen to it immediately, however that time has passed. Listening to All I See Is War, you are graced with soaring guitar and bass riffs, fantastic drum work and Lajon Witherspoon's fantastically unique growls and gruff cleans. The album definitely has a hint of that Nu Metal era sound, but then again, did Sevendust ever truly move away from that sound to begin with? While they have experimented with many different variations of their sound over the last two decades, Sevendust have always retained a very signature sound. Whether that's due to Lajon being an instantly recognizable voice, Morgan Rose's excellent drumming or John and Clint's distorted yet melodic guitars backed up by Vinnie's thundering bass, when Sevendust comes on, you know who it is.
While all that may spell that it just sounds like another Sevendust album, that wouldn't be true. All I See Is War definitely shifts gears multiple times during it's 12 track run. Whether you have the more Nu Metal invoking Dirty and Risen, heavy metal sound of Medicated, closer The Truth or a slower soaring hard rock sound like God Bites His Tongue, Moments, Not Original and Cheers, there is plenty of variety on this album. Moments even contains a fantastic piano piece being played behind it's hard rock track.
Musically these guys are still firing on all cylinders. John Connolly and Clint Lowery lay down some fantastic riffs and leads throughout the album, complementing each other excellently. Vinnie Hornsby supports the chunky riffs well with thundering Bass lines and shines more on slower songs where him and Morgan can really lay down some excellent rhythm sections. Morgan Rose is personally my standout musician, his work in Sevendust and Eye Empire first two records is incredible. He can lay down ridiculous double bass, but also easily switches to complicated drum patterns to fit slower songs.
Lajon sounds great here as well. For a man doing this for over 20 years, his voice still sounds great. He can deliver his gruff vocals with no trouble or his deep growls with intensity. His lyrics are filled with passion and he sings it like he means it. While being very recognizable, for a singer to continue to deliver believable passion is great to hear this far into their career. I've seen several interviews with him recently and he seems very excited and into this album. All I See Is War is definitely an album of our time, with our countries climate feeling like the San Andrea's fault line and the world recently having so much turmoil, the album and lyrics really speak to this, while also being deeply personal.
I'd also like to say that the production is fantastic on this album. Hard Rock and Metal really hit a low point in production between 2009 and 2011, but seems to have made a slow recovery to bands have a great sound stage. While many people listen to their music through phone speakers, low quality streams and cheap headphones, I personally invest a bit in my sound. Be it speakers for my computer, sound system for tv or getting decent earbuds, I am always trying to get the best sound out of what I have. So for bands and producers investing a bit more into sound quality is great to me. Elvis Baskette, who has worked with some of my favorite bands(Alter Bridge((#1)), Projected, Story of the Year and even Slash on World on Fire) has really become a great producer for these heavy bands. The physical album has has a cool cardboard slip over it that makes the bars over the image, which was a nice addition to the packaging.
All I See Is War is not only a fantastic Sevendust album, it is a fantastic album period. This band really put out a great cohesive effort, delivering nostalgia of their Nu Metal days, while also keeping the songs diverse and interesting. From a personal stand point, that heavy yet melodic sound is always a draw to me. I grew up during the rise of Nu Metal and while there were plenty of bandwagon bands that were just jumping on the hype train, the bands that continued and stuck together just have it to me. Lajon may sing 'I'm Not Original anymore' tinged with self realization and melancholy, Sevendust are absolutely recognizable and at this point Iconic.
If you are a fan of Sevendust, All I See Is War is a must have. If you are a fan of hard rock and metal, it is a must have. All I See Is War is fantastic!