Sevendust have been one of the longest running of the so called "nu-metal" bands that emerged over the last decade, and their fifth album Next continues on in their tradition of releasing solid material that transcends the genre. In addition to five strong album releases, Sevendust's songs have graced many a movie soundtrack, and the band has toured with the likes of Slipknot, Drowning Pool, andMudvayne, among many others. While the band is very good at down-tuned metal thumpers like "Pieces" and "Hero", it's the more ballady numbers that really open your eyes on Next. The CD's first single, "Ugly", is an intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable piece that kicks off with some doomy chugging riffs before singer Lajon Witherspoon croons the catchy & melodic chorus, a memorable bit that stays with you and prompts repeated hits on the replay button. It's songs like this, the mix of metal thunder and melodic pop that really works for this band. Other tracks in this vein are "This Life", a great choice for a second single that is all pop ballad and no metal to speak of, and the atmospheric & catchy hard rock of "See and Believe".
Fret not though, if you dig Sevendust's brand of manic metal with a huge bottom end, there's plenty of that here. "Silence" is one heavy number, with huge down-tuned guitar riffs and Witherspoon's snarling vocals, and "The Last Song" follows suit, complete with textured guitar chords from the guitar duo of John Connolly & Sonny Mayo to go along with a mix of screaming & clean vocals, and pounding rhythms. Funky yet heavy wah-wah guitars meet Witherspoon's melodic vocals on the addicting rocker "Desertion", a style that also works on the crunchy yet catchy "Failure". The band hits some industrial tones on "Never", and ends the CD with the anguished "Shadows in Red", a dark acoustic number with a great vocal from Witherspoon.
I'd say Sevendust are ready to break out of that "nu-metal" tag with the release of Next. This album is less about youthful angst and endless riff-o-rama and more about songs, melodies, and catchy metal riffs. There are a host of songs that could break big on rock radio given the chance, so let's see what happens.
5. This Life
7. See and Believe
8. The Last Song
11. Shadows In Red