In 2001, during my only metal & hard rock phase, Atlanta’s Sevendust became one of my favorite bands after releasing their third major label album. “Animosity.” A few years earlier they had shown up on my radar, and while I enjoyed the likes of Korn, Deftones and so on, Sevendust always stood out to me.
One of the reasons for that is how great the band is at mixing the heavy with the heartfelt, walking the line between nu metal, hard rock, and some form of a power ballad. The point is on that third album the five members of the band, bassist Vince Hornsby, drummer Morgan Rose, guitarists John Connolly & Clint Lowery and of course, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon gifted us a powerhouse hour of hard rock. For years after, “Animosity” was one of my favorite rock records, for good reason.
This brings us to the present, to a world where not only is the pandemic kinda seeming like it’s ending, but also to a world where things and events are happening again. One of those things is a tour featuring a full performance of this great album I’ve been talking about. The band initially planned this event for last year, as it’s billed as a 20th anniversary tour, but for the several hundred people at the Oriental Theater last week, it didn’t matter.
As the band emerged onstage, with a banner of the “Animosity” album cover adorning the band wall, Sevendust exploded onto album opener “T.O.A.B.” with the same intensity that was present when the album first came out. I hadn’t seen the guys love since 2007, but you couldn’t tell any time had passed. Sure the band looked older, naturally, but the skill set among them is still extremely high and well refined.
During the first three songs, the crowd was all energy, repeatedly with enough sound to drown out the vocals of Witherspoon as he and his counterparts busted out “Praise,” and “Trust,” before settling down for the heartbreaking “Xmas Day,” with Lowery leading the first verse as the crowd again sang back. That’s the fortunate part of this type of tour, the crowd engagement is always higher when people love and know the words to the songs. It was very apparent that the crowded club loved this record, and we have the love back ten fold to the Georgia heavyweights.
During one of the song breaks, Lajon commented on how some of these songs hadn’t been played in nearly two decades. This led to the introduction of one of my favorite songs from the band, “Dead Set.” The song itself is an eye opening, made for an arena rock soaring chorus style anthem about the depths of drug addiction and how delicate life is. The song on record is amazing, but live it’s a different beast entirely.
As the night went on, memories from other shows began coming back to me, one of which is the reminder of how much this band seems to love playing together. For the last 20 years, when I’ve seen them, it’s been refreshing to see rock stars smiling, laughing, and even more subtlety singing the verses and chorus with Witherspoon as they bribed through a memorable set.
In the hard rock world the prevailing image is one of never backing down, showing weakness or vulnerability, and definitely never smiling. When you see how well Sevendust as a unit has done in their career, it’s hard not to smile along while listening to a classic album performed in its entirety. An absolute crushing show that made me realize how important certain albums at the right time can be. As the set wound down to its inevitable climax, the band belted out energetic versions of their classic “Angel’s Son,” followed by the cutting, charged “Crucified.” I’ve seen probably five to ten bands play full albums, and honestly, I can't think of a single one that I loved more than seeing “Animosity” in all its hard-boiled majesty. Truly a special night.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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