This Friday, Sevendust play their first ever headline gig in Auckland. While I’ve seen the band live once – they played a brutal six-song set at Soundwave a few years ago – I’m super-excited for this show, having never seen a Sevendust headline gig. Even more, given that the band are on record in multiple interviews saying this will be a one-of-a-kind setlist, over two hours and probably also incorporating some of the acoustic material since they never toured Time Travellers and Bonfires down here.
In honour of that, this week will be a Sevendust marathon honouring the consistency and longevity of this very under-rated band. I’ll listen to each and every one of the band’s 12 albums, some probably more than once. And here, I’m going to rank those albums. It probably speaks volumes of the consistency and quality of the band’s catalogue that, in the course of writing this list, I shuffled and reshuffled it probably at least 15 times.
#12: Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow (2008)
There are guest spots from Mark Tremonti, Myles Kennedy and Chris Daughtry… and unexpectedly Daughtry’s contribution on The Past upstages the two Alter Bridge representatives.
#11: Sevendust (1997)
#10: Next (2005)
#9: Black Out the Sun (2013)
The rest of the album is pretty solid too, but occasional it can be a little sparse and just doesn’t always hit the huge highs of the tracks above.
#8: Animosity (2001)
#7: Time Travelers and Bonfires (2014)
Time Travelers and Bonfires is a record of two halves – the first being new acoustic tracks, the second being acoustic performances of older Sevendust tracks (in a similar vein to Southside Double Wide). The new material is just quality through and through; the older material repeats a little from Southside but is still excellent and takes some good risks too, like a radically stripped-down version of Denial. However, one of the few disappointments of this record is that it doesn’t take a punt on any heavy numbers like Southside did so brilliantly well with Too Close to Hate and Rumble Fish. Hearing the band lob in a full-blooded acoustic take on a track like Terminator, Disease or Face to Face would’ve really put this one over the edge.
#6: Cold Day Memory (2010)
The differences are immediately obvious - a palpable increase in urgency right from the start, with the opening one-two of Splinter and Forever, a more outward-looking perspective and a lot less introspection, and more intricate song arrangements. At the time, CDM was a very strong reminder that Sevendust still had a lot to offer, and it remains a fine record.
The now-obligatory excellent closing track this time around was Strong Arm Broken.
#5: Alpha (2007)
There’s pretty much no respite on the whole record, aside from the quieter sections of 9-minute epic Burn, still Sevendust’s longest song by a considerable margin. It’s somewhat fitting that the assault ends with probably the fastest and most bruising song the band has written to date – the title track, Alpha.
#4: Seasons (2003)
I was genuinely staggered to discover that the band (or at least Morgan Rose) was disappointed with this record as being too commercial. While it’s definitely well-produced, there’s a heavy sense of darkness around the album and it blends some of Sevendust’s heaviest tracks (Disease, Enemy, Face to Face) with some excellent mellower tracks (Skeleton Song).
As a side note, the cover of Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues that was included as a bonus track on some versions is well worth tracking down.
#3: Kill the Flaw (2015)
Because there’s so much happening, Kill the Flaw isn’t necessarily Sevendust’s most accessible album, but it’s certainly one of their best and most rewarding to listen to.
#2: Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live (2004)
To this day, it still rates as probably the best acoustic or unplugged record that I’ve heard.
#1: Home (1999)
Sevendust clearly hit a rich vein of form on this album, and managed to distil it perfectly into 41 minutes par-excellence of what guitarist John Connolly describes as "some kind of heavy and some kind of rock and some kind of metal". From the stoic, raw crunch of the opening riff of the title track, there really isn’t a wasted minute on this album. The raucous headbanging of Denial, the ‘get up, get up, get up’ call to arms of Rumble Fish, the teeth-gritting defiance of Waffle… it’s all glorious.
Guest spots were very much in vogue at the time but were a notoriously hit-or-miss affair; the two here are absolute killers. Skin from Skunk Anansie (remember them?!) appears on Licking Cream, and the Deftones’ Chino Moreno contributes vocals to closing track Bender.
My personal favourites? They’ve changed over time, but at the moment it’s Headtrip and Bender. The way guitar, bass and drums syncopate and weave around each other on these two tracks is awesome – and Morgan Rose in particular shows a great deal of subtlety and guile with some particularly deft touches on the drums.