Black Out The Sun will not damage Sevendust’s chances at similar opportunities. With 13 tracks running a power chord or two over 40 minutes, bills will be paid, Apple will make their 30 percent on iTunes and fans who loved every Clint Lowery Sevendust album will be satisfied.
It’s unfair to find fault with Sevendust. What’s wrong with alternative metal fit for old school FM formats which can also pass the stink test at KNAC.com? Their albums are easy to like, readily heard in movies and video games and play well in front of the hard rock kids out on date night.
“Memory” uses a tasty Mellotron bed under the acoustic guitar moodiness that precedes the first proper track, “Faithless,” and like a ghostly reminder that track-sweetening improves mediocrity, the string beds float up again under the flabby middle of the song. “Till Death” follows with a tighter presentation. Darker and more urgent, there’s a sense that this track came along as the sessions began to gain steam. Unlike 2007's Alpha, this album has a disjointed feel, as if dabbling in the electronic ornamentation present in songs like the otherwise excellent “Cold As War” may have distracted the band.
“Black Out The Sun” is the towering centerpiece of the album, a signed, sealed and deliberate radio cupcake ready for mass consumption. Jaunty Strats ring into a clinker strum before the necessary four line coupled verses blow up from the sparseness and rocket right into the anthemic chorus. One can imagine spotlights raking over the crowd as fans sway while mouthing the words as this baby booms out from the festival P.A.
If not for a breakdown after the first chorus that percolates with programmed electro-baubles, a slightly unfocused middle sixteen after the second chorus and a tacked on guitar wash after the back to back choruses rounding out the song, “Black Out The Sun” might not make it to the one minute mark. It’s a spectacular example of active adult radio songwriting economy.
Sevendust unstrap the gun metal gleam of “Nobody Wants It” right after the radio anthem as if to atone for the hit making. It’s heavier and faster until the major key changes signal that melody is still welcomed. The song is rougher along the seams, but when Dad drives Caitlin to high school, he won’t be able to resist nodding along with his daughter’s CD. Black Out The Sun does this Jekyll-and-Hyde formula from open to close.
“Dark AM” is the album’s secret gem. It’s classic Sevendust, once they get past the NIN noodling intro. It may not be the hit that “Black Out The Sun” is destined to be, but it’s a better track. It hammers, then soars, then bursts into an impeccably embellished chorus that reaffirms the fact Sevendust falls in that gray area between Target shelves and the darker crevices where inventory managers stack the real heavy metal.
(released March 26, 2013 on7Bros Records)