I've been a fan of Sevendust since their first album, but over the course of their career there have definitely been some low lights. I usually continued to listen to them despite their mediocrity simply because I enjoy what the band puts out. Period. But when they put out stellar albums, it's an amazing experience. Home, for example, is easily one of the best nu-metal albums to grace the much maligned genre. Cold Day Memory was another of Sevendust's shining moments and it was great to see the band back in top form. This was originally published on May 26, 2010.
Eight studio albums into their career, Sevendust are showing no signs of slowing down. Almost like clockwork, every two years or so you can expect a new Sevendust album to grace shelves, but this hasn’t always worked to the band’s advantage. After their fourth album, Seasons, the band’s downward decline in quality set in pretty fast. Some would say they were already on the decline at that time, but there was a definite change in quality between the band’s first four albums and subsequent three albums released before Cold Day Memory. The period of time during which Sevendust were at their creative low was also the time that guitarist/vocalist Clint Lowery was not a part of the band. He has now returned and, as you might expect, the band shows a nice uptick in quality from what they created on Next, Alpha, and Chapter VII.
Cold Day Memory is, in effect, a natural progression for the band from their work on Seasons. In fact, the best way to view this album would be to imagine that Sevendust went on a hiatus from 2004 to 2009, with the albums that were released during that time being put out by a different band altogether. Sevendust is now back to melding catchy hard rock with a radio friendly sheen together with stomping, aggressive nu-metal rock. The band’s first single, “Unraveling,” is a perfect addition to the band’s already wide repertoire of radio hits. It avoids being cliché and delving into butt-rock contrivances (like so many bands looking for radio appeal are known to do), yet it is a song you wouldn’t mind singing along with or listening to when other people might be in your presence, unlike most guilty pleasure radio hits.
Even though this album feels a lot closer to the band’s early career material than their recent works, don’t expect a return of some of the pummeling riffs and outright aggression found on portions of Home or their self-titled debut. That ship has sailed, but that’s not to say there aren’t some heavy moments to be found on here. “Karma” has Lajon Witherspoon using some screams, sparingly, alongside some thundering guitar lines. The majority of the song, as is the case with most of the more aggressive songs on this album, still has a significant amount of melody and an accessible nature.
This accessibility should not be equated to selling out or simply “going soft”. The band has always had that mass appeal sound going for them, but as opposed to the time while Lowery was out of the band, the accessible nature of the songs feels natural and fluid. There are a number of songs on this album that are infectious and will stand out upon an initial listening. During their last three albums, however, you’d be hard pressed to find a single song that would stick with you or stand out even after multiple listens. Everything felt slightly less interesting. Now, however, you have tracks like “Confessions (Without Faith)”, “Unraveling”, and “Last Breath” that are true standouts. Witherspoon has always had great vocals and can belt out a sing-a-long chorus with the best of them, but the last few albums lacked the quality hooks and supporting instrumentation to make his vocals really pop and grab you.
Sevendust, with Cold Day Memory, have shown us that it’s not always possible to replace a band member and continue on at the same level of quality. While Lowery was missing, Sevendust were a below average imitation of themselves. With him back, they’re now operating at full strength and are showing it. This is the Sevendust album we’ve all been pining for over the last six years.