It is hard to believe that Sevendust released their first album way back in 1997. It doesn't feel like nearly that long. Even considering the fact that I did not really pay all that much attention to them during those first few years. Sevendust is a band that has never quite gone to the next level with regards to their popular reception. They definitely have their fans and do not seem to have any problem selling out shows, but they are still just outside mainstream view.
This is a little strange when you listen to them, as the songs are there, the charisma is there, the talent is there. What will it take to push them over? I have no idea, but it may be a little late for them to break through. Maybe I am wrong, maybe you have a different view, but they always seem to be a bit behind the popularity curve. Do they deserve to be there? Absolutely not. This is a band that has been primed for prime time for a decade, if not longer. Cold Day Memory is just another example of their readiness.
This is the band's eighth studio album and features the return of guitarist Clint Lowery to the fold. Lowery left the band following their 2003 release Seasons to join his brother in Dark New Day. Since then he has also been a touring guitarist with Korn and recorded a solo EP under the name Hello Demons Meet Skeletons. His return brings a differently nuanced guitar sound than his replacement, ex-Snot guitarist Sonny Mayo, provided.
In any case, the album shows the band still at the top of their game. From the strong opener of "Splinter" to the introduction of Lowery as lead vocals on the album closer "Strong Arm Broken," you cannot deny how solidly effective and catchy the entire album is. However, it is this solidness that both attracts me to and repels me from Sevendust.
How can that be? Well, they are so solid, so consistent in the quality of their releases that it is easy to hold that against them. I find that while I listen to their music, I find it hard to find anything to dislike. At the same time none of it truly steps out as innovative or great. I accept that this may all be in my head, but it is hard to ignore. The best I can hope for is that they continue their career-long trend of delivering solid tunes.
Funny, as I think about their consistency, I also feel the need to mention this is a step up from 2008's Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow. That album toned done some of the heaviness that was the highlight of 2007's Alpha, and seemed to want to court a larger mainstream audience with guests from Alter Bridge and American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry.
With Cold Day Memory, as funny as it may sound, they have somewhat regained their voice. They are not necessarily courting an audience as they had done just recently, so much as they are allowing their voice to be heard in the hopes that people will gravitate to it. It is not quite the same thing, at least that is how I see this.
The album is powered by guitarists Lowery and John Connolly. The duo are perfect compliments to each other with their smooth blend of heavy muted riffs, melodic rhythms, and the occasional lead break. They are the first instrument to make an impact and they definitely leave an impression. Fortunately, they are not the only story in town, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon is a very strong force to contend with. He brings a powerful in your face aggression that is married with a soulful, emotional side that brings a lot of passion to the music.
In the end, this is an album to check out. It does not matter if you are a long time fan or a newcomer. When you press play, be sure to check out: "Splinter," "Unraveling," "Last Breath," "Confessions (Without Faith)," and "Strong Arm Broken."