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Sevendust - "Alpha" (CD)

Sevendust - "Alpha" CD cover image

"Alpha" track listing:

1. Deathstar
2. Clueless
3. Driven
4. Feed
5. Suffer
6. Beg To Differ
7. Under
8. Story Of Your Life
9. Confessions Of Hatred
10. Aggression
11. Burn
12. Alpha

Reviewed by on March 21, 2007

"Alpha finds the band juggling a “return to form” motif with a bent for experimentation."

Ten years have passed since the nu-metal scene was thrust into the limelight and only now has the herd been thinned from suffocating density. Only Grandpa Korn and a handful of Johnny come lately’s carry the torch prominently. Acts as varied as Limp Bizkit, Cold and System of a Down have all broken up or gone on questionable hiatuses. The coattail riders in Flaw must have seen the writing on the walls, titling their sophomore album “Endangered Species” then disbanding shortly thereafter. Darwinism has rarely proven more true. Yet the strong are clearly surviving and in some cases even thriving. Having shaken off the spinning of the wheels vibe plaguing their 2005 album Next, Atlanta five piece Sevendust sound positively vital.

Sevendust have come a long way to get to their sixth album, Alpha. As frontrunners in the nu-metal and heavy rock revolution, Sevendust rose to fame on the back of their 1997 self titled album through a severe touring schedule and a strong word of mouth reputation. A major breakthrough took place in 1999 with their followup album Home, in which the singles “Denial” and “Waffle” received significant radio exposure. Rather than copy off of honor students like P.O.D. or Godsmack, Sevendust made their own bones utilizing multiple vocalists and thunderous rhythms, while shunning turn tables and rap vocals. Having never fully dressed in the cliches of their peers, Sevendust would continue to succeed while many of their tour mates struggled against the changing times.

Alpha finds the band juggling a “return to form” motif with a bent for experimentation. As with all previous Sevendust albums, the opening salvo is aggressive. Bullet train drums and avalanching riffs vie with the flexible vocals of frontman Lajon Witherspoon in a downhill race to the chorus on “Death Star.” “Beg to Differ” and the title track finds drummer/vocalist Morgan Rose alternating between machine pistol rhythms and vindictive, echoing roars to impressive results. The robust low end assault the band are known for remains potent throughout, courtesy of bassist Vince Hornsby. Guitar team John Connolly and Sonny Mayo crank out one head splitting riff after another but it’s the jittery, squealing solos found on “Feed” and “Aggression” that resonate most. The nine minute “Burn” will also turn heads, as much for it’s length as it’s uncharacteristic twists and turns. While the band stick with familiar lyrical turf on this track, it would have been a novel place to branch out thematically. Among other lesser surprises, is liberal use of keys on select cuts. This new aspect of their sound would compliment the acoustic guitars the band historically use but no power ballads are to be found on Alpha. Also strangely absent are anthems in the vein of “Crumbled”, “Praise” and “Terminator”.

Sevendust won’t be challenging their fans with Alpha. Rather than diving headlong into evolution, the band are keen to dabble, which should do little to shake their loyal core following. Furthermore, the band haven’t stooped to the frat boy bravado or utter selloutship of their peers and they will survive longer for it. Sevendust are in a crowded distance race against a changing heavy rock scene but Alpha should place the band sqaurely at the head of the pack.

Highs: The confrontational “Beg to Differ” and the catchy “Under” tap into the ether that made Home an indispensable album of it’s era. “Burn”, “Aggression” and the title track demonstrate a capacity for growth.

Lows: No shout along anthems or power ballads to be found. “Story of your Life” is uneventful filler.

Bottom line: Longtime Sevendust fans should already have this album. Those who shied from the pop-sense of Seasons or the repetition of Next should give Alpha the shot it deserves.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)