BLACK OUT THE SUN
In 2013, there are not many bands where I actually get excited to hear they have a new release coming out. For a lot of reasons, the whole specter of a new release just doesn't get me anticipating things like it used to. In large part, it's because I get everything sent to me months in advance that takes away from the real excitement of a release. For a few bands though, I literally can't wait each and every time for new music. Sevendust is one such band. Without question, they are my favorite band of the modern era; a band criminally underappreciated when you consider that lesser bands like Disturbed and Korn surpassed them greatly in popularity throughout their respective runs. I'm so much of a fan that I'm traveling twice in a month to see them - once in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then a few weeks later in Columbus, Ohio. So, when BLACK OUT THE SUN was provided, you can bet your ass that it hit my iPod and stayed there for weeks.
Not much to say that really doesn't get said on every one of their releases. BLACK OUT THE SUN is standard Sevendust faire. If you loved them before, you will love them now. If not, move along. There are some subtle differences on this album from previous efforts, but ultimately this is Sevendust sounding, very much in the ANIMOSITY/SEASONS era of the band. Certainly, there are songs like the extremely heavy "Til Death" which may surprise people, but in the grand scheme, BLACK OUT THE SUN is just another fun, rhythmic metal album from a great band. The lead single "Decay" is every bit the first single they always do; a direct counterpart to songs like "Denial", "Praise" or "Enemy" from past efforts. It's a song that's certainly made for radio and features more of vocalist Lajon Witherspoon singing than screaming, but like all the others, it works for active rock radio.
As for the rest of it, there's a few differences, but not too much that would lead you thinking they are trying anything to different or crazy. Songs like "Mountain" feature a slightly thicker guitar tone from Clint Lowery and John Connolly than some of the previous efforts, and the tempo is a little more mid-tempo than Sevendust generally goes for. It works well though. As always, the band is anchored by the incredible, always unique style of drummer Morgan Rose and bassist Vince Hornsby. While Rose's playing has long defined the overall vibe of Sevendust's sound, he still continues to find creative ways to mix up the sound with his form and approach. He's simply compelling on his fills on this release's best song, "Cold As War". As for Witherspoon, he's the most underrated vocalist in all of rock music today. His ability to sing cleanly and mix it up with death metal screams has always been a reason to love the band. That continues here. In short, Sevendust are as strong as ever, and BLACK OUT THE SUN proves it.
PITRIFF RATING - 88/100 - BLACK OUT THE SUN rocks as Sevendust generally does. Sure, they have better releases in their catalog, but this one will not disappoint anyone who's been following along. Their lack of big time success is one of the true failings of modern music fans of the last two decades. Maybe though, that's the reason they've stayed so hungry and true to their own sound. BLACK OUT THE SUN is as true as it gets.