Review || Sevendust - "Blood & Stone"

Sevendust is releasing their brand new studio album, entitled "Blood & Stone", on October 23rd via Rise Records. You'd think that 2020 would be a bad idea for a band to release their 13th (!) record but luck favors the bold. Sevendust is one of the most prolific bands of alternative metal (or, as my friend likes to put it, "AMERICAN metal") and very consistent from a creative standpoint. With a career spanning over 20 years, the band has found their staple sound and adjust all their new inspiration on their signature mold.

"Blood & Stone" consists of 13 (!) tracks and upon viewing the tracklisting, the titles seem sort of pessimistic, weighing a little on the negative side. I was admittedly curious to press 'play' and see for myself if the songs lived up to the titles. I was happy to discover a diversity in the sound, with each track having a life of its own. While the album flows very fast, it becomes clear that the creations are short on homogeneity. Under different circumstances, that wouldn't be an issue. I feel, however, that there aren't many strong, connecting structural elements to bind the spine of the album. Sure, groove is the key component for the majority of the songs but, in the final product, they lack balance. For instance, the first half of the album seems to be built on a sonic incontinence; the latest single "Dying To Live" is a banger, quite rightly holding its position as album opener if you ask me, succeeded by "Love", which remarkably loses momentum. Then, the lead single "Blood From A Stone" that follows builds tension back up, but immediately loses it to "Feel Like Going On", a power ballad. Beautiful -yes, emotional -most certainly, but it interrupts the upbeat flow in an almost rude manner. 

The second half of the album is arranged in a more harmonious way, with the songs keeping a rather linear trajectory. It is also noteworthy that almost all songs, louder or slower, have airplay potential, which is frankly amazing and I imagine quite difficult to achieve. Finally, "The Day I Tried To Live", is a Soundgarden cover paying homage to Chris Cornell, and vocalist Lajon Witherspoon gives a truly outstanding performance, approaching the late singer's unique timbre with respect and not mimicry. Hats off, these were big shoes to fill. If I had to pick favorites, I'd probably go with "Dying To Live", "Blood From A Stone", "Desperation", the anthemic "Criminal" (side note; how on earth is this not a single?) and "The Day I Tried To Live".

"Blood & Stone" follows the course of a rollercoaster; peaking fast with very promising instrumentations and then, before you know it, slowing down to finally dive deeper into more mellow sounds. Don't get me wrong, I'm usually a sucker for such juxtapositions but with this album the lows feel significantly more than the highs, even though they're not. What I'm trying to say is, the songs on their own are very good and well-rounded, especially in a genre where bands can easily resort to clichés and people won't bat an eye. It is the tracklisting that effectively kills their dynamic. "Blood & Stone" is definitely still growing on me but I will arbitrarily go on and assume that, for diehard fans, this is just nonsense and most certainly won't defer them from enjoying the album, which is exactly the point. 


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