The ninth studio album from Sevendust provides a grown-up helping of terrific modern metal. Black Out The Sun is heavier than the band’s last full-length, Cold Day Memory , and has more in common with the swaggering grimace of 1999’s Home or the biting rage of 2001’s Animosity.
Black Out The Sun triumphs with some of the swankiest grooves and most unique riffs in the band’s catalogue. “Faithless” tears out of the album intro with all the energy of a Sevendust live show before unexpectedly falling away into a moody, slow-building verse. The form is jarring at first, but it pays off in the bridge when guitarist Clint Lowery takes over the vocals. “Till Death” is an all-out beatdown that breaks into a slow pre-chorus before building back to full strength. These tracks are among the strongest on the record, but with their similar form, pairing them next to one another may cause some listeners to stumble out of the gate.
The groove in track four, “Mountain,” is ridiculous. With its sludgy, laid-back tempo and pendulum swing, it’s perfectly titled. The connection between drummer Morgan Rose and bassist Vince Hornsby in the rhythm section is on display in this tune, and I can’t get enough of Vince’s well-timed slide to introduce the chorus.
“Cold As War” and “Dark AM” aren’t bad tracks, but they fell relatively flat for me. “Dead Roses” has a strong chorus and some cool interplay between programming and guitar effects, but still isn’t a standout. On the other hand, “Picture Perfect” is full of gold, between guitarist John Connolly’s creative work on the fretboard in the verse and the chorus sung by both Lowery and lead singer Lajon Witherspoon. “Got A Feeling,” sung primarily by Lowery, has an undeniable weight to it with its underlying simplicity and vocals contributed by each member of the band. The last track, “Murder Bar,” has a haunting chorus and face-melting bellows from Lowery and Rose in the bridge to finish the album strong.
“Decay,” the first single, is hands down one of the best Sevendust tracks to date. The eerie ring of the song’s signature riff is unmistakable, and when it drops into the verse, it tactfully maintains the intrigue of the intro melody. The chorus displays Sevendust at their catchiest and the bridge takes the song home with a guitar solo followed by a pulverizing mosh riff.
Sevendust are 16 years removed from their debut album and yet Black Out The Sun feels like it could have come out at the height of the band’s success last decade. This album shows the group remains dedicated to their craft, excited about making new music and eager to embrace the risks that go with it. And that’s the kind of thing that will keep the fans excited for a good while longer.