Sevendust is just one of those bands with legions of fans that still never seems to make it all the way into the mainstream. Maybe that will change a little bit now that (former guitarist) Clint Lowery is playing with Dark New Day, who were well-marketed out of the gate and had their debut single hit the top 10 on the mainstream rock charts. Actually, after hearing Dark New Day's debut, I was curious about what would happen to Sevendust's sound--with "Brother" sounding exactly like a Sevendust song, could it be that Clint was the primary riffwriter and that their sound would go through a complete change?
Once through Next laid all of my concerns to rest. There certainly is some change in the band's writing, probably brought on by the influence of Clint's replacement, ex-Snot guitarist Sonny Mayo. But more than that...this CD combines what I think were the best elements of their last studio CD (2003's Seasons) with the best parts of some of their earlier releases: there's still a lot of Lajon's smooth vocals and the big soaring choruses, but the tone of the record is darker and angrier than most of what Seasonshad to offer ("Face to Face" being a notable exception).
Drummer Morgan Rose, as usual, stays pretty much in the pocket but occasionally brings out a really interesting syncopated pattern, and on "Pieces" has a quick double-bass break. The guitars still rely a lot on low string chugging and syncopated grooves, but one of the biggest changes has been the addition of solos/interludes and harmonized passages on tracks like "Silence," "Desertion," and "Failure." They're nothing like the near-shred breaks of some of the top metalcore acts, but it's definitely a welcome addition to their sound. On the other hand, there are still tracks like "This Life" and "Shadows in Red" that have radio hit written all over them.
New guitarist, new label, and refinements of and additions to their sound. Could this, 5 CDs in, finally be Sevendust's big break into the mainstream? With the current modern rock climate accepting more and more harsh vocals in the music thanks to some emo-style bands, but still favoring melodic acts, it would seem like the conditions are perfect for Sevendust to swoop in and finally get the recognition they deserve. The only thing I could possibly complain about is that while they did add a bit to their sound, they still
stayed more in their comfort zone than they needed to. Despite that, there's no doubt about it: Next is a solid heavy melodic rock disc that you need to have in your collection.