Sevendust – Black Out the Sun

MI0003493687

Sevendust - Black Out the Sun

3.5/5

Genre: Alternative Metal

Release Date: March 26, 2013

Record Label: Asylum Records

 

 

 

 

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, a distinctive sound can only be played so many times over before it gets tiring. And the albums Sevendust produced in the later years of the early 2000s, 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.

Tracklisting:

1. Memory
2. Faithless
3. Till Death
4. Mountain
5. Cold as War
6. Black Out the Sun
7. Nobody Wants It
8. Dead Roses
9. Decay
10. Dark AM
11. Picture Perfect
12. Got a Feeling
13. Murder Bar

Band Links:

Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

Buy the Album:

CD || MP3

 

The Material – Everything I Want To Say

The Material - Everything I Want To Say

The Material - Everything I Want To Say3.5/5

Genre: Alternative

Release Date: April 9, 2013

Record Label: Self-released

 

 

 

 

A little over two months ago I had the opportunity to talk to San Diego quintet The Material about the album that would become Everything I Want To Say. Vocalist Colleen D’Agostino told us that “The whole album has a melancholic feel, sticking to our dark sounding rock roots, but we always make sure it has a hopeful quality about it. The songs deal with depression, addiction, love, loss, human rights, and chasing your dreams. A little bit of something for everyone.” Since that interview D’Agostino, guitarists Jon Moreaux and Roi Elam, bassist Jordan Meckley, and drummer Kevin Pintado have put the finishing touches on Everything I Want To Say, and tomorrow the wait will be over. This album is decidedly heavier than anything the band has ever released, but the drive and heart that went into the making of this album is obvious.

A central focus of The Material’s sound has always been D’Agostino’s powerful and soulful voice. “Life Vest” begins with nothing but her soft voice over a muted guitar part; this slow-burning song builds in urgency and energy until the frenetic climax. On the dynamic “Bottles” D’Agostino turns in one of her most passionate and powerful performances, as her smooth croon in the verses carries us into the soaring choruses. Along with her excellent vocal presence, D’Agostino is known for her deeply personal lyrics. Songs like “Skin And Bones” and “Bottles” carry positive messages that many will latch onto and connect with.

Not to minimize Elam and Moreaux’s consistently tasteful and talented guitar riffs, but The Material has always stood out due to the fantastic bass and drum work courtesy of Meckley and Pintado. Pintado owns “Born To Make A Sound” from the beginning, a song that is a statement of the band’s drive and commitment to their songs. Although not immediately noticeable Meckley’s bass lines weave underneath the structure of the song, forming a strong foundation to support the rest of the band. Something that can be said in general for all the parts of The Material’s sound is that nothing takes too much of the spotlight or overpowers the others – this restraint and unity in the sound is a skill that many bands should take note of.

The final three songs on Everything I Want To Say are the strongest in my opinion. The sequence begins with the thoughtful “Love Me Or Leave Me”, a mid-tempo song that features D’Agostino’s beautiful vocals singing one of the best melodies of the entire album. “Let Me In Again” starts off calm before the frantic chorus sweeps in. Finally, the band encourages the listener to chase their dreams on “Chances” – an inspirational song that also gives us a glimpse into the band’s life on the road.

This album features everything that fans have come to love about The Material – meaningful lyrics and passionate performances. Everything I Want To Say has heavy songs to mosh to, pop songs to sing along with, and ballads that will touch hearts. After I had finished my first listen of the album I did find myself wishing for more pop-centric songs, but the heavy songs are too good to have been left off. If The Material is not on your radar yet, check them out; Everything I Want To Say is the anthem of a band on the rise.

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Life Vest
  2. Born To Make A Sound
  3. Tonight I’m Letting Go
  4. Running Away
  5. Bottles
  6. Skin And Bone
  7. Gasoline
  8. The Great Unknown
  9. Love Me Or Leave Me
  10. Let Me In Again
  11. Chances

Band Links:

Official Site || Facebook || Twitter

Buy the Album:

MP3