It’s funny to see bands I grew up with becoming legends in their own right. I didn’t see their potential for longevity at the time, but now I can clearly ascertain why they have lasted and also how much they have influenced music in general. Sevendust are back with their thirteenth studio album, “Blood & Stone”, releasing on October 23rd through Rise Records. This record proves that the band has always had something special.
I’ve loved Sevendust for around 20 years now. They always stood apart from their peers, always sounding a bit more technical and hard-hitting. To this day, I find myself singing through many of their huge hits, and I still turn to Face to Face when I’m having a bad time of it. Back in 2018, the band released “All I See Is War”, what I have come to believe is their greatest record because of the potent lyrics, diverse songs, and sheer emotion. Just like that, the band has become one to watch, and they honestly have always maintained that status.
The band is impossibly consistent. In fact, if my facts are correct, the lineup right now includes all of the original members. That is absolutely and ridiculously rare. The lineup is Vince Hornsby on bass, Morgan Rose on drums, John Connolly and Clint Lowery on guitars, and Lajon Witherspoon on vocals.
I’ve pondered this achievement of remaining together for so long. Most bands have drama, legal disputes, or creative differences, and some just can’t work together for long periods of time. Sevendust are obviously different, and whatever system they maintain has really worked. In my opinion, their history and also this new record demonstrate something they have that many bands do not: respect.
What do I mean by that? Respect is necessary for happiness and peace, in my opinion. These guys seem to have the utmost respect for one another, and the band as a whole seems to have respect for other artists, too. You can see it in how the guys treat each other, never coming across as pompous or arrogant. You can hear it in their lyrics, especially more recently, and in their concern for those less fortunate. Sevendust is a band that values human beings, and especially the emotions we possess.
I started thinking about all of this after hearing Sevendust’s cover of “The Day I Tried to Live” from Soundgarden. Sure, this was probably spawned in their minds after Chris passed away (RIP), but something about the way they covered the song made me ponder. The cover doesn’t try to outdo the original. Lajon doesn’t try to match Chris’ fiery delivery. The band doesn’t try to match the original note for note. No, the band simply made it their own, making it feel smooth and cool, like everything they do. This struck me as a sign of respect from the band, a sign of respect for Soundgarden, who I am sure influenced them greatly. Instead of trying to do it better, they made it differently, and I really appreciate that.
“Blood & Stone” feels very much like an album of respect and thankfulness to me. The band maintains their powerful approach to alternative metal, always dodging the subgenre labels, like nu metal or post-grunge, that are often forced on them. With such an uncertain year like 2020, it is comforting to hear bands like Sevendust remain consistent, trustworthy, and, most of all, active. As expected, the vocals are phenomenal, the guitar work is hard-hitting and technical, and the rhythm section is second to none. This band has been operating for so long at such a high level that I simply cannot ask anything more of them than “Give me more”.
I can hear, also, how they have helped shape the modern rock/metal landscape, including the world of progressive music. I remember a few years back when Earthside released their debut (which included Lajon on one track), and I began to see how so many modern progressive metal bands have bits and pieces of Sevendust in their sound. And, as other reviewers started claiming Rush and Yes as influences for that debut, I saw that Sevendust, in all their glory, were responsible for a huge portion of modern metal of all stripes. Their glimmering heaviness and raw lyrics hypnotizing so many young artists, and helped shape and mold them into making ambitious music. If you like modern progressive metal, Sevendust is a band that deserves your thanks.
“Blood & Stone” is a solid album from these legends. The choruses are massive, the hooks are strong, and the music is pulsating and muscular. They haven’t lost any of their oomph. Each one of the thirteen tracks is more complex than you might think at first, and all of them are crafted with care. For my money, the best tracks are the alluring opener “Dying to Live”, the powerful “Love”, and the pealing and spacious “Against the World”. My favorite two songs, however, are “Feel Like Going On” and “Wish You Well”. The former simply has the most addictive chorus on the album. I absolutely love it and the overall musicality of the track. The latter has a great hook that I’ve been singing on awful lot. I especially love Lajon’s tone on the chorus.
This is an album that will please fans, but I feel like it is a good entry point for new fans, too. Sevendust know what they are doing, and you can hear it in their mature song writing, consistently strong performances, and especially in their nods of respect to each other and to their peers. This is the kind of band I want to support forever.
Find Sevendust online: