When a record grabs you at first listen, you know it is bound to be a winner. The American quintet from Atlanta seem to have added another gem to their remarkable collection.
Sevendust – Blood And Stone (Rise Records)
Release Date: 23 October 2020
Words: Dany Jones
Since their inception in 1994, Sevendust have released numerous studio albums, acoustic recordings, a DVD, been featured on film and have had endless appearances touring either side of the hemispheres several times over, alongside the likes of Creed, Metallica, Korn, Stone Sour, Iron Maiden and Chevelle to name a few.
Not without trials and tribulations, including the temporary departure of axe man and main writer Clint Lowery, they have managed to get back into the spotlight and endure a long prosperous career which culminated in a Grammy nomination in 2015.
‘Blood and Stone’ is Sevendust’s thirteenth studio album and it is captivating from the very start.
Guitarist Clint Lowery told MetalTalk: “[The track] ‘Blood From A Stone’ was inspired by the endurance and threshold of our band, the wins and the losses, the good and bad years, that we have more to give, more to say and we pull that out of each other.”
The band’s winning formula has always been dictated by the juxtaposition of phat, Heavy, plain ‘in yer face’ down-tuned riffs complemented by solid, punchy and percussive barrage, with the soulfulness created by Lajon’s sultry vocals.
This is probably what renders Sevendust quite unique and is the reason why it has never been easy affiliating them to a specific genre, which is never a bad thing.
In addition, and equally reflected in the whole album, the Nu Metal / Industrial type of sonic search delivered by the guitars renders album number 13 a contemporary work of art in the vein of peers such as BMTH, Killswitch Engage and Skillet. This becomes particularly apparent in the opening song ‘Dying To Live’.
‘Against The World’ and (the quasi self-titled track) ‘Blood From A Stone’ follow suit in the same category of earworms of this record and it suggests them maybe being chosen as the obvious singles; with these songs it is full riffing force. A surprise uplifting variation in the middle section and the ending riff evoking the haunting litany of a jaw harp spark particular interest in the latter.
‘Love’ takes a more mellow approach, despite not losing momentum and groove, while the reflective ‘Feel Like Going On’ prides shining as a powerful ballad, loaded with ethereal choruses and solemn and emotive arrangements.
We then have the soothing ‘Kill Me’, with a bittersweet motif. ‘What You’ve Become’ and ‘Desperation’ mark more Heavyweights, however ‘Nothing Left To See Here Anymore’ is simply stunning. A melancholic ballad in three quarter time, displaying beautiful harmonies in a call and response pattern and ending on a single note piano refrain.
‘Criminal’ is sombre, with a beautiful game of duets, while the moody, yet peaceful, ‘Alone’ paves the way for a smooth transition towards the outro.
The last original song ‘Wish You Well’ figuratively marks the ideal closing number, departing with an uplifting message of strength: “We were born to be bold, we are not fading to silence.”
The running order of the songs is very much a succession of Heavy / atmospheric / Heavy again, until we reach the ending bonus track, possibly number lucky 13, which offers a special rendition of Soundgarden’s ‘The Day I Tried To Live’. This was released as a single ahead of the album launch.
There are a few singers in the world who can measure up to Cornell’s style of singing and Witherspoon is unequivocally one of those.
He himself admitted in earlier interviews that this was a challenging undertaking, however he does it justice indeed. Peculiar are also the harmonising guitars sounding almost like the call of enchanting sirens. Overall, a beautiful rendition.
Remaining true to their signature sound, this album presents a new found sobriety that marks the apex of the band’s refinement as a whole.
While not necessarily a career defining record, ‘Blood and Stone’ is an utterly enjoyable and solid album, engaging throughout and offering everything that is expected, and more.
I have no doubt that it will certainly live up to expectations and especially for their aficionados.
Lajon Witherspoon -Vocals
Clint Lowery – Guitar
John Connolly – Guitar
Vince Hornsby – Bass
Morgan Rose – Drums
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 cover)