May 7, 2018 Sevendust – All I See Is War (Album Review)
In their twelfth time around the track, Atlanta, Georgia’s Metal veterans Sevendust are back with a message of hope packaged in some brutal truths. The band’s latest album, All I See Is War, is their twelfth overall studio album, their first release with Rise Records, and it arrives this Friday, May 11, 2018.
The dexterous quintet- Lajon Witherspoon (lead vocals), Clint Lowery (lead guitar, backing vocals), John Connolly (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Vince Hornsby (bass), and Morgan Rose (drums, backing vocals)- have been making their mark on the music industry since 1994. Despite having eleven other releases under their belts, including a successful self-produced and crowdfunded acoustic album, Sevendust has long been heralded as one of the most underrated bands in Metal music. Now, following their 2015 album Kill The Flaw, the band’s newest offering offers a classic Sevendust sound that fans have come to know and love while delivering a few new twists and turns along the way.
Beginning with “Dirty,” All I See Is War kicks off with Vince Hornsby’s signature bass rhythms and Lajon Witherspoon’s powerful and emotive vocals. Hornsby’s bass and Morgan Rose’s drums pound the heart of this song in the listener’s ear and into their hearts. It is both an auditory and visceral experience when paired with the dynamic and cinematic string work of Clint Lowery and John Connolly. The song sweeps you up and brings you along for the tumultuous beginning of this ride, only to deposit you swiftly into the thunderous and enveloping world of “God Bites His Tongue.”
This song is all guts and glory. While Witherspoon sings about the loss of spirit and the repression of the human spirit while calling for salvation, the instruments swell and envelop the senses. It would be easy to interpret this tune as one of hopelessness, but there is a freedom and optimism in the way Witherspoon sings “We pray to see better days,” and alludes to the ever-present silver-lining to most dark clouds. This song showcases that, even in the darkest times when it seems all has been lost and we are all alone in this world, there can be hope and new glory found in the days yet to come.
“Medicated” was released as the first single from All I See Is War, and its sweeping chords and punchy drum rhythms give it soul and character. There is something dramatic and emotional about this song that is reminiscent of the band’s work on their 2010 release Cold Day Memory, which also carried very emotionally and instrumentally heavy songs. The intense and invigorating string work on “Sickness” reads familiar as the same kind of theatrics and flair used on 2005’s Next, specifically on the song “Ugly.” The song boasts a similarly stirring composition and breakdown as its predecessor, as well as the hallmarks of classic Sevendust offerings.
They continue this uplifting and inspiring trend with “Moments” which, in this writer’s opinion, features one of the best guitar solos and breakdowns on the album. The lyrical content addresses the issue of being able to have a moment to reflect on the world as it is because we, as people, are otherwise too busy waging war and building walls. It is difficult not to read the influence of current events and world politics in this album and the nature of its running themes and content. Especially here in “Moments,” there is an address to the society to take this moment and make the hard decisions to build rather than destroy, to aid rather than ransack, and how the united good will of people can be more powerful than hatred.
As the album winds down, the listener is guided into “Descent” with its darker overtures and syncopated beats. The song ebbs and swells with an overt and aggressive bass from Hornsby that joins forces with Rose’s drums to create a powerhouse core that drives through the entire song. In “Life Deceives You,” you’re greeted with a more upbeat rhythm before exploding into a dramatic and explosive chorus that is both haunting and chilling in its rawness and impact. Shutting things down on All I See Is War is “The Truth.” This daring and heavy grind closes out the record with grit and a biting viciousness that demands to be heard. One thing Sevendust has always done well is convey the emotion of their experiences into their music. While a lot can be said about the familiarity of the band’s sound in much of their catalog, it is the balance between this and their creative development that keeps them among fan favorites.
The band made their bones on being malleable and almost unpinnable. While many bands easily fit into a single niche, Sevendust has long defied singular definition. Are they Metal? Are they Hard Rock? Are they actually considered Nu-Metal or Alternative? Whatever you call them, don’t call them lazy. Like a fine wine, Sevendust seems to just be getting better with age, and All I See Is War is their latest gift to the world. So, for unyielding commitment to their craft, passionate songwriting, and emotional impact, CrypticRock give Sevendust’s All I See Is War 5 out of 5 stars.