May 19, 2010

Album Review: "Cold Day Memory" by Sevendust

There are few bands that can match the consistency and perseverance of Sevendust. Since their self-titled debut album came out in 1997, the band has struggled to achieve any sort of big breakout, while many of their peers have leapfrogged them into fame. However, the band has never stopped or given up, remaining very tightly knit throughout all their trials. The band has only experienced one member change in their entire career, in the form of Clint Lowery's departure in 2004, and that change was undone two years ago when Lowery expressed his desire to rejoin the band. Cold Day Memory marks the recording return of Sevendust's original lineup, and the reunion with Lowery immediately proves to be a huge step forward for the veteran quintet.

In its tone and emotion, Cold Day Memory has more in common with Sevendust's early work than any other album they've released in the past eight years. This album feels like the natural course of evolution following the self-titled album, 1999's Home, and 2001's Animosity. The musical style is more organic and streamlined than recent albums have featured, flowing and ebbing from one song into the next with ease, no matter the differences in atmosphere. The guitar lines aren't as prominent, either, creating a better mix in the band's overall sound. The vocals are back in the forefront of the sound, which is great because of how much they've improved. Lajon Witherspoon's singing sounds more soulful and emotionally charged, and Morgan Rose's primal screams convey more rage and agony than ever before. With the return of Lowery's excellent backing vocals, the vocal power of this band is stronger than it ever has been.

Cold Day Memory also continues several long-standing traditions of Sevendust, maintaining the consistency of the band's style. As with most of their previous releases, this album opens with its heaviest track, and in this case, one of the heaviest of the band's entire career. "Splinter" is incredibly powerful, with a pummeling main riff leading into a melodic chorus that stays heavy throughout. The album gets moderately lighter as it continues, but the heaviness spikes up in places before reaching the end, which also similar to the older albums. The lyrical themes are much darker than any of the band's recent work, but Sevendust seems to excel when they are fueled by negative emotions, which might be another reason why this album is so enjoyable.

The best way to describe Cold Day Memory is to say that it's the album that longtime Sevendust fans have been waiting for. Those who criticized the band for the lighter tone of 2003's Seasons, or who disliked the band's stylistic changes after Lowery left and was replaced by Sonny Mayo, will discover newfound appreciation and love for the band on this album. It has the energy and vitality of the band's older work, but it also has exponentially greater musicianship and subtlety, the kind that only a veteran band can achieve. This is the Sevendust that everyone knew could exist, if the right circumstances came about. It appears that those circumstances have finally come, and the band has capitalized perfectly.

Score: 8 out of 10

Track Listing

1. Splinter
2. Forever
3. Unraveling
4. Last Breath
5. Karma
6. Ride Insane
7. Confessions (Without Faith)
8. Nowhere
9. Here and Now
10. The End is Coming
11. Better Place
12. Strong Arm Broken

Album Personnel

Lajon Witherspoon - Lead vocals
John Connolly - Guitar, backing vocals
Clint Lowery - Guitar, backing vocals
Vinnie Hornsby - Bass guitar
Morgan Rose - Drums, backing vocals

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