Sevendust – Cold Day Memory
With the opening track “Splinter” starting off like a runaway freight train, my initial thought is “What train is this, and who’s driving?” For a few seconds I thought it was Avenged Sevenfold. (Isn’t it ironic that both band names include the word “seven”? Don’t you think?) You know the old-school Sevendust fan in me wanted so badly to be falling all over myself and gushing pure rock enjoyment…but alas, I did not. That’s not to say that the disc doesn’t begin with a valiant effort, but for my money, the disc begins like so many others; others that showed promise but failed to deliver. You all know what I mean, right? I’m sure there’s a band out there that you took a chance on, maybe some “new” band that had a sick hit on the radio or caught your attention on a movie soundtrack, only to find that they’re nothing special. Now imagine that feeling when you’ve picked up the latest release by a band you actually remember being awesome. Yup…it sucks. Now, before I get too far, let me say that all hope is not lost before it’s even gained. Any Sevendust fan knows that you can’t judge the buffet before it’s served. A new Sevendust CD is like an un-tapped mine…it’s all about finding the hidden gems among the rough patches.
Sevendust albums have always seemed to me like a collection of song ideas that need a lot of work, with a handful of finished, truly kick-ass songs interspersed. Cold Day Memory, the group’s eighth studio album, starts off as no exception to this trend, but quickly picks-up. Once you get through the first two tracks in the line-up, something changes. The sound becomes more developed, the songs become more engaging, and suddenly you feel like you’re listening to a different CD than you were when you first popped it into your player. Could this disc mark one of those maturing moments in the band’s continuing evolution? Have song structure and melody made their way into the permanent Sevendust mix? Certainly the disc is more pleasantly surprising the deeper in you get, which in itself is one of the biggest improvements over their earlier offerings.
Starting with the album’s third track “Unraveling” (the first single released on iTunes last month) the album begins to turn a corner, and with the next few tracks, the change becomes more solidified. Suddenly the album sounds like more of a complete offering, and not a collection of works in-progress accented by moments of brilliance. Tracks like “Karma” and “Confessions” continue to show the evolution of this more learned and wiser rock-veteran quintet into the band Sevendust always had the potential to be. By the time you’re nearing the end of the disc, you feel like it makes sense to be hearing ominous tracks like “The End is Coming” and “Strong Arm Broken”, without the feeling of having to really strain your musical tastes to enjoy the songs. These songs sound thought-out, structured and finished…and they ROCK!
Ever-present in Sevendust’s music are the roots of their influences. Without a doubt Metallica and Living Colour top that list, and you can clearly hear the contributions these legends have made to the Sevendust sound. Until Cold Day Memory, I always had the feeling that somewhere along the way something got lost in the translation between the band and their influences. Anyone who remembers the opening riff to “Black” from the group’s self-titled release Sevendust (1997), knows what it feels like to get pulled in; to be completely captivated by something original and awesome. Then you keep listening to the disc, and slowly the ‘HOLY SHIT!’ effect disappears. Sure you can still hear the Metallica-esque riffs being married to the industrial sounds evinced by bands like Coal Chamber and Ill Nino, but something would just not gel. Suddenly songs seem to have no real structure or melody, or the introductions are lack-luster and you’re hitting the “next track” button (back when we all still had CD players). Their next offering Home (1999) was very much the same way. This is just something that comes with the territory of Sevendust. You can either accept it and revel in the moments their talents shine through, or you cannot accept it and overlook the band altogether…missing out on the gems completely.
I mean, let’s be honest, not every Metallica album sounded like Kill ‘Em All (1983), and as they matured so did their sound and their albums reflected that (ah-hem Master of Puppets (1986) and Black Album (1990)). Cold Day Memory could be the first album from a more mature Sevendust than we’ve ever seen, a Sevendust we’ve spent a long time waiting for. Let me leave the Sevendust fans like me out there with some wisdom I stole from a famous ketchup commercial…good things come to those who wait. It’s been a long time waiting with much faith tested, but it’s safe to say that Sevendust has begun to hit its stride.
Cold Day Memory hits your local record store shelves, and the virtual shelves of the iTunes music store, on Tuesday April 20th (Happy 4/20 from Sevendust).
Klone’s favorite track: #7 “Confessions”