Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grand Halls 36

SEVENDUST – “Chapter VII: Hope & Sorrow” CD ’08 (7Bros, US) – Right about now what I suspect some readers are doing is looking at this, an album by SEVENDUST from 2008 reviewed under the Grand Halls section and thinking it’s a misprint or that I’ve lost my mind. Fear not, my friends, it makes complete sense and here’s why. Over the years, my musical journeys have taken me a lot of places, a lot of them far afield, into places like scraggly demos recorded by bands from North Dakota in the back of a farmhouse and released in microscopic runs of a couple hundred max. Therefore, in an odd sense, and yet one that’s just as true, something like this is what’s obscure, underground or unknown for me. Granted, there are a lot of reasons for people of discriminating tastes to avoid things more mainstream or the radio. All you have to do is take a quick scan of the dial and you’ll see why. By the same token, there are times when, tooling around in the mini-van (that of the broken CD player!) a mood will sweep over me that renders me sick and tired of the AM sports talk shows. And, when I do this and throw on something like 98 Rock in hopes of hearing the scant airing of “Run To The Hills” or “Metal Gods,” an interesting thing will happen: I’ll hear something else I’ll like…a lot. Now, I know, I know. What I’m “supposed to do” when this happens, by all the “True Metal” and “underground” standards is take a sheepish look around, convince myself that said song was really no good and forge an agreement with myself and I that this will never be spoken of again. But personally, I’ve never been one to fall for that kind of dead-end musical elitism and I’ve simply gotta find out whatever it was and check it out. This time, it was “Prodigal Son” by SEVENDUST.

Imagine my feelings of being out-of-the-loop when I went to Amazon and found out this band has not one, but a whole bunch of CD’s. Be that as it may, it took quick work to find out that the song I’d heard had come from their latest, the snappily entitled “Chapter VII: Hope & Sorrow.” I slipped into Best Buy under cover of the night and purchased the disc, pulling my collar up around my face and looking over my shoulder as I cringed at the sticker proclaiming “features Chris Daughtry on one song.” (No, that scenario was just to give an uneasy laugh to all the holier-than-thou’s…well, maybe I did hesitate when I saw “Chris Daughtry” but….) So, down to business, I threw this in and was left to wonder what I’d get when the…wait for it…eerie intro started. Thing is, the first song “Inside” finally came roaring out of the speakers with vocalist Lajon Witherspoon announcing “Pleased to meet you, motherfucker!” and I thought I was listening to a lost Pantera track! Varying between down-tuned ass-mauling aggro verses and the kind of chorus Alice In Chains would give pause for, these guys had me impressed. “Enough” continued the proceedings and I’m understanding why people dig this shit. Catchy-as-hell, in-your-face riffs and production, yeah this is good stuff! I’m digging this and then, here comes the song with Chris Daughtry and I’m ready to hate it, ready to ask why the hell they decided to ruin what had the potential to be an excellent album by inviting some American I-Dull onboard and there’s only one problem…it’s a good song and the vocals completely fit. Sheezus, do I stand corrected, it’s not my fave song on the disc but it works. But I don’t really have time to think about all that because up next you’ve got the well-paced elephant gun of “Prodigal Son” wherein John Connolly lays down some seething wah-wah. Gotta say though, “Contradiction” is the star of the show. Holy shit, this song is heavy! The guitar solo overtop the “One”-like machine gun rhythm is a thing of beauty and the Amselmo-like vocals really add the cherry on top. This is the kind of album that’s a purely cathartic listen. Had a hard day? Open all the windows on the Camaro (you lucky people with not only a Camaro, but a car CD player that works!), throw this in on “11” and blast down the road. Aggressive, emotional and it sounds good too. Moral of the story? Sometimes good shit makes it through. No Misprint

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