What’s most interesting about Sevendust’s latest release All I See is War is that it seems to be not only an acceptance of being pigeonholed into a style of music that became popular in the mid to late 90s, but a celebration of that magnificent, halftime-driven melodic alternative metal that disenfranchised youth in North America who feel the angst (but aren’t quite ready for King 810 and don’t really understand Kendrick Lamar) have come to rely on for their escape. Case in point, on the aptly named “Not Original,” singer Lajon Witherspoon laments “no matter how I cling to life I’m not fooling anyone, I’m not original anymore.”
However, after 25+ years (wow) and twelve albums (double wow) into their career, Sevendust still have one crucial element working in their favor: they are very, very good at what they do. Witherspoon’s low, soulful vibrato gives the incredibly high number of huge, singalong choruses here much-needed layering, and proves once again that he is one of the most criminally underappreciated vocalists in hard rock. The rest of the band backs him up appropriately with beautiful soundscapes that are probably currently making the guys in 10 Years very jealous. Remember 10 Years? No? That’s my point.
There are moments here that flirt with prog, like the keyboard-laden “Moments.” (It’s like they knew I was going to reference the song in my review.) Mostly, Sevendust stick to what they know best; big arena anthems, any of which could serve as a single and all of which will probably be played live at some point. Though the lyrics aren’t reinventing the language, the subject matter is pleasantly varied. The usual themes of broken relationships and self-doubt are mixed in with more serious topics like substance abuse and religion.
In the second half of the album, the 20-tens alt-metal seems to be enjoying a strong resurgence. While Sevendust may not be the most well-known or influential band under that umbrella, they are certainly one of the most adept at crafting a song. This release will not disappoint OG fans, and even those who have never ventured into the band’s catalog before will almost certainly find something to enjoy here.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson