Sevendust’s Black Out the Sun Is A Step Backwards
2010’s Cold Day Memory, which marked the beginning of Clint Lowery’s second go-round with Sevendust after a three-album absence, was a triumphant return to form for a band that had gone adequate but mediocre without him. It was obvious from the very first note that holy shit this is what has been missing the past few years! Clint brought that songwriting finesse back to the band, that expert touch, that added level of complexity, the X factor.
So what the hell happened on Black Out the Sun? Did Lowery leave his songwriting shoes at the door? Did he use up all his good riffs on the [very good!] Call Me No One record? Did John Connelly write the basis for most of the songs on this album? Or was the collective membership simply not able to come up with the same caliber of songs under the pressure of writing on the fly in the recording studio?
Most of the songs on this record are fine, but few of them are great. “Decay,” the first single, is worthy of inclusion among the band’s best. “Dead Roses” is a bit different for the band, but I really like it; the almost atonal clean electric guitar intro giving way to a distinctly Sevendust-esque verse and a chorus that easily could’ve come from a Call Me No One tune; not only is the song hummable, but it’s fast and heavy. “Black Out the Sun” is most touching on a lyrical level, and the obviously Lowery-led acoustic song “Got a Feeling” is all kinds of gorgeous on the level of “Angel’s Son” (OK, maybe not as quite). But outside of those songs, and a few moments here and there (i.e. the Home–esque riff that opens “Picture Perfect”), the album lacks staying power. “Mountain” and “Nobody Wants It” have catchy enough refrains but overall come off feeling like stock Sevendust. “Dark AM” and “Cold As War” sound like B-sides from Connelly’s Projected side-project (which I like just fine, but the Projected songs weren’t Sevendust songs for a reason).
One things that’s here in spades, and boy are those spades sharp: guitar solos! Lowery brings it hard, and he brings it right. He turned the solo knob all the way up to 11 on Cold Day Memory and, thankfully, he hasn’t relented.
But for the most part Black Out the Sun sounds like it could slot in perfectly anywhere amongst Next, Alpha or Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow. It’s alright, passable Sevendust, enough to keep me interested, but not very memorable, just like each of those three albums. I have absolutely not lost my respect for Sevendust, not one bit… unfortunately they just didn’t quite nail it this time around.