REVIEW – SEVENDUST are back with their twelfth studio album All I See Is War. The Atlanta, GA based hard rock band formed in 1994 forging an impenetrable bond with one another. That bond has translated well with audiences spawning one of the most diehard fan bases in the music industry. To this day, the connection between SEVENDUST and their fans only grows stronger. For their twelfth full-length and first release for Rise Records, All I See Is War, the quintet—Lajon Witherspoon [lead vocals], Clint Lowery [lead guitar, backing vocals], John Connolly [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums]—enlisted Producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette [Alter Bridge, Trivium, Slash]. This marked the first album since 2010’s Cold Day Memory that SEVENDUST has worked with an outside producer. Over the years SEVENDUST has built and maintained a friendship with Producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette that has been amplified by the praises of longtime comrades ALTER BRIDGE and SEVENDUST’s own John Connolly, whose band PROJECTED utilized his mixing talents on their 2012 debut Human.
“The energy was great,” smiles Witherspoon. “At one point, I did seven songs in four days. He really challenged me as a vocalist. We all just gelled. We’ve always talked about doing something for years and years. It was a long time coming. From the first moment we walked into his house, you could feel it. There hadn’t been another band who lived there before. We capitalized on the meeting of the minds. It was a brotherhood.”
“We haven’t had a producer since Cold Day Memory,” Clint goes on. “Elvis was so hands-on. He made us try new transitions and step up our game. Sonically, he opened up a lot of doors that I don’t think we would’ve gone through if he hadn’t been there. We preserved the essence of what we are, but we took chances. Lyrically, we captured what we’ve gone through, all of the rough times, and the changes.”
SEVENDUST introduce All I See Is War with the opening track “Dirty” which also serves as the first single. The track is lead by Morgan Rose’s pummeling drums with a driving distorted underscore supplied by guitarists John Connolly and Clint Lowery. The track boasts a soulful proclamation from Witherspoon as he croons, “I’m no stranger to this thing called war.” The guitars crescendo into an expansive refrain that immediately imprints itself before a hummable solo.
“I freestyled that first line,” recalls Witherspoon. “It’s something I haven’t done since ‘Angel’s Son.’ I think it set the tone for the whole thing. It was pretty magic.”
“Someone wants to see you fail, and it really aggravates this person that you’re persevering and surviving anyway,” explains Lowery. “The lyric ‘I’m gonna die whole’ means not being extinguished, getting through, and pissing off your enemies.”
The neck-snapping groove of “Medicated” gives way to another unwavering chant.
“The subject matter is a bit different,” states Connolly. “Porcupine Tree’s Fear of a Blank Planet is arguably one of my favorite records. The idea is similar to ‘Andromeda.’ These pharmaceutical companies have made it so everyone is hooked on something. You don’t even know why you’re on these medications. All of last year’s horrific suicides were linked to a pill. Think about the opioid crisis. It asks, ‘Can we just stop?’”
Slyly nodding to Lowery’s love for Stranger Things, “Not Original” thrives on airy, cinematic guitars that unfurl into one of Witherspoon’s bluesiest and boldest performances.
“We wanted to get into some new territory,” elaborates Lowery. “It’s about being in a dry spell and not able to find creativity. You don’t want to repeat yourself. I thought I’d go for this new wave thing, because I was watching a lot of Stranger Things.”
Nailing the “old school vibe,” “Risen” drops a hard-hitting and hypnotic hook that’s primed to set festivals ablaze.
“You’re down and out looking for hope,” explains Connolly. “You ask the question, ‘Are you going to kick me while I’m still down, or are you going to help me stand up and get through this?’”
In the end, that’s exactly what SEVENDUST does. Through their music, the band lifts up listeners and lets them know that they’re part of the SEVENDUST family.
“This band means family to me,” Witherspoon leaves off. “I wake up and can’t believe this is what I do for a living. I still feel like that 20-year-old kid who signed a record deal a zillion years ago. Sevendust is also home. Even though we’ve been doing this forever, it feels like the beginning.”
“This what we are,” concludes Connolly. “It’s just another new version of Sevendust.”
All I See Is War is unmistakable SEVENDUST. This is SEVENDUST’s best work since their trifecta of now-classic gold albums—Sevendust , Home , and Animosity — that were the catalyst for their remarkable journey.
SEVENDUST “All I See Is War”
2. God Bites His Tongue
9. Not Original
11. Life Deceives You
12. The Truth
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