Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sevendust's Hope and Sorrow delivers.....sometimes

It's been a little over a year since Sevendust released Alpha, it's heaviest and possibly its strongest effort over its 10-plus years of existence. A friend of mine and fellow Sevendust fan was stationed in Iraq when Alpha was released and asked me to send him a copy. I was so impressed with the record's intensity, I thought it might inspire my buddy to single-handedly go out and win the war by himself. That didn't exactly happen. Oh well.

We didn't have to wait long for Alpha's follow-up, Chapter VII Hope and Sorrow, which came out April 1. While Alpha made me want to destroy things, Hope and Sorrow makes me want to give peace a chance. But if peace doesn't work, breaking things is the next best thing. Hope and Sorrow lacks the punch of Alpha, but that doesn't mean it's a bad record. Sevendust is not afraid of melodic and mainstream rock and usually shines when venturing into those territories. Hope and Sorrow is much more accessible and gentler than Alpha. However, it's also not as fresh, or as fun.

The album opens with "Inside," a track featuring a breakdown that would make Hatebreed red with envy, and transitions into "Enough," a groove-laden rocker that is undoubtedly Sevendust. Alter Bridge's Mark Tremonti's solo on the next tune, "Hope," is the only highlight of the track before we're hit with "Scapegoat," another hook-heavy Sevendust staple.

From there, the album tends to blend together, with the exception of the standout first single, "Prodigal Son." All the ingredients of Sevendust are present: groove-heavy hooks, LaJon Witherspoon's soulful crooning and intense yelling, Morgan Roses's unique drumming style, and the overused sing/yell song structure that only Sevendust seems to actually make interesting. It's a solid album, but it's nothing we haven't heard before, either from Sevendust or other bands. Guest appearances from American Idol's Daughtry and Alter Bridge's Miles Kennedy actually do more to hurt the album than help, unfortunately. Each song also has an extended intro, which gets old after a while. It's almost like the band listened to the record, realized it needed something else, and threw on an intro before each song to try and be "different."

With Clint Lowery back in the band, I'm hoping their next effort is stronger than Hope and Sorrow. Hope and Sorrow is decent, but Sevendust has established over it's 10-year run that it's capable of much more than decent.

Final verdict: 3 out of 5 stars.

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