Hope and Sorrow
- Hard Rock
- Buy the CD
Reviewed by Bill Clark
Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow arrives with a certain “what will they do now?” subtext. It has been known for months that they enlisted the guest services of Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge, as well as Chris Daughtry. No one has lent vocals to a Sevendust song since Aaron Lewis on “Follow,” from 2001’s Animosity. The single, “Prodigal Son,” is classic ‘dust – heavy, chunky, and efficiently layered. What’s left from here?
Sevendust fans are in for quite a surprise when they fire up this record. The opener, “Inside,” kicks into high gear after nearly 90 seconds of industrial sound effects. This sort of experimentation lays the groundwork for the whole album, as Sevendust lays down tracks with strings, piano, and an array of other effects. The band has long used independent drum tracks flourished with industrial chops to bridge songs during their shows, and they have crafted Chapter VII around this formula.
The album contains nary a dull moment, as is the case with every Sevendust record to date, but the collective effect doesn’t match that of Alpha or Animosity – the two albums that the band puts in the blender to achieve their sound here. Tracks such as “Inside,” “Fear,” and “Sorrow” certainly belong in the upper crust of the ‘dust echelon, but I’m still on the fence about the necessity of the three collaborations. The best of the bunch is “Sorrow,” featuring Myles Kennedy. He’s a great singer, but he’s given entire choruses here, and when you have a frontman of the caliber of Lajon Witherspoon, what’s the point? Mark Tremonti contributes a guitar solo to “Hope,” which gets the job done but is by no means mind-blowing. Chris Daughtry turns up on the album’s ballad, “The Past.” With tunes like “Angel’s Son” and “Skeleton Song” already in the Sevendust canon, this comes across as surprisingly forgettable. The album ends with welcome aggressiveness in the form of “Contradiction” and “Walk Away.”
Fear not, this is still a great record. Longtime devotees will find plenty to love, and I still get goosebumps every time 3:29 rolls around on “Sorrow.” Lyrically, Sevendust never ceases to be at the top of its game, and Lajon sounds as good as ever. Whereas many bands settle into a predictable formula, Sevendust always has a curveball to throw. Chapter VII is a darn good one, but it doesn’t have quite the effect of last year’s Alpha.