Since 1994 Sevendust has been making waves in the Rock and Metal world with their soulful and melodic yet heavy sound. Their first three studio albums achieved RIAA Gold certification status, and the band earned a Grammy nomination in 2015 for “Best Metal Performance” for the song “Thank You.” So, success and praise are not foreign to this Atlanta-based Metal outfit, but they haven’t let it make them complacent. With over 25 years in the music business, Sevendust has worked to make its mark on the industry by developing a loyal fan base and establishing their signature style that highlights their individual strengths as musicians while also giving them a distinct group identity.
Composed of Lajon Witherspoon (vocals) John Connolly (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Clint Lowery (guitar/backing vocals/ programming), Morgan Rose (drums/ backing vocals), and Vince Hornsby (bass/backing vocals), the men of Sevendust have now entered into their third consecutive venture with producer Michael “Elvis” Basket to deliver their latest album, Truth Killer via Napalm Records. Released on Friday, July 28, 2023, Truth Killer makes for the band’s 14th studio album and their follow-up to 2020’s Blood & Stone (Rise Records).
“I Might Let The Devil Win” introduces the listener to the soft, bluesy, and soulful end of Witherspoon’s vocals and gives an usual but not unpleasant spotlight to electronics. The first half of the song also perfectly demonstrates Sevendust’s soul and R&B influence before expanding into a heavier, more propulsive second half that maintains much of the emotion while adding passion and desperation to the tone. The titular track, “Truth Killer” brings that signature Sevendust heft immediately to the forefront and evolves into a gritty yet balanced track. With charging chords and pounding percussion thanks to Lowery and Rose, the song is a powerful exploration of the band’s dynamics akin to their previous work on 2010’s Cold Day Memory.
Moving forward, “Won’t Stop The Bleeding” has a driven pace and infectious rhythm that easily carries the listener along the journey. Witherspoon with the help of Hornsby’s chest-pounding bass and the dual electricity of Connolly and Lowery delivers a message of addressing your issues head-on and finding a way to heal from the inside out to “stop the bleeding.” Old-school fans of Sevendust will be happy to find the comfortable familiarity of “Everything” while still enjoying the added orchestral quality of its chorus. It’s an up-tempo and catchy tune that is easy to sing along to quickly. In a club set, this could easily be one of the earliest crowd warm-up songs because it is so anthemic. “No Revolution” drops the dirty, crunchy guitar sounds that steer the core of the track and add a tone of defiance to the already rebellious song. For listeners seeking a song for the disaffected that speaks to the sense of conflict and helplessness in society, this one’s for you. It’s fraught but not hopeless and the guitar solo in the bridge is a beautiful touch that sings with a charm distinct from the rest of the track.
In the second half of the album is the previously released single “Superficial Drug” which addresses the pitfalls of the superficiality of the social media age. In this song, the band revisits compositions that feel reminiscent of 2013’s Black Out The Sun. The balance between the melody, the message, and the technical skill creates a cocoon of sound that resonates in your chest but doesn’t suffocate. Rose’s work behind the kit really pops here, no pun intended, and creates a crispness that keeps things moving and sharp.
This while “Messenger” starts out with Witherspoon’s crooning before expanding into an enthralling and euphonious expanse of sound that sweeps up the listener and carries them effortlessly throughout the song and into “Love and Hate.” Here Sevendust digs into their heavier repertoire and offers up refined skills, instrumentation, and vocal power that feels like a nod to their early career and work on albums like their 1997 self-titled debut or 1999’s Home. The biggest difference long-time fans will notice is obviously the evolution in their technical skill and the depth and maturity of Witherspoon’s vocals; however, there’s also the increased presence of spirituality and worldly awareness that’s made its way into their lyrics, likely reflective of Witherspoon’s own connection to spirituality.
Closing on a high note, Truth Killer wraps things up with “Fences,” a pummeling, full-throttle high-speed chase that is relentless and yet infatuating. It is everything you think of when you think of Sevendust- driven, compelling, and dynamic, making it the perfect way to close out this album. They leave listeners with a solid reminder of who they are and what they’re about while also delivering a message of overcoming and finding the strength to climb out of rock bottom and rediscover yourself.
For nearly three decades Sevendust has established their reputation as a Nu Metal staple with a catalog of underrated hits. With Grammy nominations and Metal community esteem, this Atlanta-based quintet has garnered the respect of listeners from across the Metal musical spectrum. Their dedication to craft and continuity while continuing to find ways to innovate that don’t isolate their core base is talent and consideration for fans some bands don’t choose to exercise. Sevendust has really found the sweet spot in their career where they can continue to deliver the music fans love while exploring new orchestrations and elements that enhance rather than distract. As the saying goes, “They aren’t new to this, they’re true to this” and it shows.
So, for continuing to set the standard by delivering thought-provoking lyricism and infectious orchestration while still managing to find ways to experiment and innovate Cryptic Rock gives Truth Killer 4.5 out of 5 stars.