Ah, Atlanta’s Sevendust. Loved and hated by many, but it's hard to get around the fact that the band has been making solid albums since the beginning. Their self-titled record has been a blueprint for the band’s sound. Heavy, groove based riffs, aggressive vocals but also a keen sense of melody, mainly due to the fact that singer Lajon Witherspoon is one of the more vocally talented frontmen in the current rock and metalscene. The band broke through with ‘Home’, which is considered to be the bands best work. The following records, ‘Animosity’ and ‘Seasons’ were also well received, but a lot of fans did not appreciate some of the more, almost radio friendly, rock songs on those albums. After ‘Seasons’, guitarist Clint Lowery left the group. The band found a good replacement with Sonny Mayo (Amen/Snot). The band was labelless in 2004, and decided to record and produce ‘Next’ on their own.
Opener "Hero" pretty much sets the tone for the first few songs. Heavy stuff, and very ‘Home’-ish. Morgan Rose seems to have gotten a larger role with his screams, and the dynamic between him and Lajon sounds better than ever. The first single of the album, ‘Ugly’ starts pretty friendly, but as soon as neat doublebass-guitar pattern kicks in you’ll know that this might be the bands heaviest single yet. The chorus is very catchy, and it wouldn’t suprise me if this song will do well on the radio. My favorite song of the record is ‘Pieces’, somehow it reminded me a bit of Pantera because of that sort of ‘southern metal groove’. I don’t know who came up with the riffs but if it's Mr. Mayo’s doing, all the power to that man!
"Desertion" and "Failure" take a small step back regarding heavyness, and I think that fans of the bands later work will dig those songs pretty much. With "Silence" things start moving again. The overal feel of that song reminded me a lot of Home’s "Rumblefish". After this it's time for a slow song; "This Life", which is a tune about John Connolly's newly born daughter. "See And Believe" will work very well live because of a kick ass break down, altough I think the rest of the song is a bit so-so (or too typically Sevendust, so to say).
"The Last Song" has a big role for Morgan Rose, who has more vocals than Lajon and a great breakdown as well. On "Never", the song has some electronic effects. I’ve heard the band use those on a few more songs on older albums, but I do have to say that the effects sound really integrated and part of the music on this cd. The disc ends with an acoustic called "Shadows In The Red". It's not a new "Angel’s Son" but it wouldn't suprise me if it turns out as a decent hitsingle.
'Next' is the first entry in a new chapter for Sevendust with a new lineup and a new label. The band managed to get back to their roots a bit with more heavy riffing, but was also smart enough to utilise their melodic talents that made them so popular. Fans of the band shouldn’t expect a new "Home" or "Sevendust", but "Next" sounds like the band finally got their sound down. If you have been a fan of the band, you can just get this record. People who didn't appreciate 'Animosity' and 'Seasons' should also check it out because 'Next' might get them back into the band. I’m curious what the future will bring since this is a step into a direction I'm personally pretty happy with.