By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Sevendust is always synonymous with the alternative metal scene. The Atlanta rockers have been globetrotting the world since their self-titled release back in 1997. I never would have guessed that this rock outfit would not only still be performing, but also playing with all five original members, continuously bringing vigorous performances and critically lauded albums. I saw them for the first time last year at the famous Wiltern (God, do I miss that place), co-headlining the tour with Skillet. They brought tremendous energy that night, and I finally saw why they are a crowd favorite, while in turn making me a fan. Well, Sevendust has returned to the studio and have put together their latest gift to their fans, Blood & Stone. Their 13th album is looking to raise the bar for the band and challenge their musical intellect.
Blood & Stone kicks off “Dying to Live.” The intro pulsates your senses once Morgan Rose’s whamming of the drums kicks in. Frontman Lajon Witherspoon is a roaring fire on the mic, while guitar duo Clint Lowery and John Connolly attack the riffs with blitzkrieg force. “Love” has this killer bass hook that Vinnie Hornsby just nails. The listener can feel the raw emotion in the voice of Witherspoon, bounded by torture and love at the same time. Connolly masterfully concocts juicy riffs that oozes alternative flash. We now approach “Blood From A Stone,” a scorching rocker that packs a solid punch thanks to its main riff. Lowery layers in the lead riff underneath Witherspoon’s soulful singing very nicely. “Feel Like Going On” slows things down to a slow burn that rather reminds me of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” or “Scar Tissue.” An ode to this world’s current environment, Sevendust pulls off proficient licks that are somber yet hopeful, looking toward better days ahead. This tune is one of the high points off Blood & Stone.
“What You’ve Become” speeds things up once again. Armed with a crunchy riff and concrete beats coming from Rose’s drum kit, this song roars with penetrating desire. Lowery finally comes in with a killer solo number that pleases the metalheads out there. Up next is “Kill Me.” The intro caught my ear as it was simple and oriental sounding, then bang! Incomes Rose, Connolly, and Lowery with all their might. Lyrically, it is so metaphorical in its approach about heartbreak. Lowery adds a squeal riff towards the end, sticking a knife into the heart of the tune. “Nothing Left to See Here Anymore” is a melodic up-tempo number that is perfect arranged instrumentally between the chorus’s uplifting subtly and the bridge’s headbanging thrust. Witherspoon’s voice cares on with pride with each new stanza. We are now at “Desperation,” which wastes no time in breaking down the gates with its heaviness. This song is jam-packed with vitality and emotion, especially coming from the awesome singing of Witherspoon. “Criminal” is a ballad style song that is not as watered down as some modern rock ballads today. The guitar work of Lowery and Connolly is bittersweet and calming.
We come to possibly the best song off Blood & Stone, “Against the World.” A haunting piano starts it off, then thunderous guitars shatters the glass ceilings of this record. This tune is triumphant against the turmoil and pain this world throws at us, but Sevendust got our back. Rose crushes the shit out of his kit while Hornsby ravages the beats with his bass. The best part: Lowery’s raging solo that can be heard all the way to Heaven. “Alone” thinks outside the box when it comes to ballads. With the tempo slowed down a beat, they add their alternative/nu metal flair that makes it more melancholy. The record wraps things up with the cage-rattling “Wish You Well,” and the ultimate tribute to Soundgarden and the late/great Chris Cornell, “The Day I Tried to Live.” What was special about this cover is that Sevendust did not try to copy Soundgarden’s style, but incorporate their own flavor into the iconic song, and I am sure Cornell would be more than satisfied with the outcome.
Produced beautifully by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Tremonti, Slash, etc.), Blood & Stone is a testament to Sevendust’s commitment to keep churning out stellar albums. They continue to evolve as a group without losing the energetic spirit that have made them fan favorites. Witherspoon, Connolly, Lowery, Hornsby, and Rose are leaders of their own destiny, and Sevendust fans are sure to embrace this record as I have. To Sevendust, I salute you. Horns up!!!
Dying to Live
Blood From A Stone
Feel Like Going On
What You’ve Become
Nothing Left to See Here Anymore
Against the World
Wish You Well
The Day I Tried To Live (Soundgarden)
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