It’s safe to say Sevendust has never been known as a risk-taking band. Part of their long-term appeal for fans has been that their structure and sound has stayed pretty consistent over the duration of their discography. I suppose one of the biggest risks they took was releasing an “acoustic” studio album, Time Travelers & Bonfires (2014), even though they had actually released a live acoustic album, Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live (2004) ten years earlier!
Kill the Flaw (2015) was released today, and it’s another notch on the band’s yardstick, continuing the psuedo nü-metal sound that they helped pioneer back in 1997. Now let me begin by saying I’ve been a fan of Sevendust since 1997, and I loathe nü-metal or whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. Sevendust (1997) and Home (1999) coupled with Deftones – Around the Fur and Deftones – White Pony basically formed the soundtrack for my high school years. There was some Incubus in there as well, but my god progress isn’t always positive, right?
A lot of my enjoyment of their music nowadays might be tainted by nostalgia as their style hasn’t really progressed much over the years. When Clint Lowery left the band, I pretty much left as well as Next (2005) was a godawful heap, but when he returned I too returned. Cold Day Memory (2010) was a very enjoyable listen since it sounded like Sevendust, and it was very helpful that the band released studio updates on their youtube channel. There’s a cool video of Clint tracking Here and Now that probably motivated everyone who saw it to buy that album.
The band did regular video updates for their follow-up album Black Out the Sun (2013) as well, and I have to say, that album surprised me as being pretty entertaining as a Sevendust album as well (see the pattern here?). For the most part their style has stayed the same, but over the years we’ve gotten to hear technical refinement and more polish applied. So how does Kill the Flaw fit in? Is it more of the same (which is what a lot of fans like about the band)?
So far they’ve only released two studio videos, with the most recent one covering the experience of recording children’s backing vocals for the opening track, Thank You. It’s a fun track if you know Sevendust, and it does get stuck in your head maybe a little too easily. The track is definitely more enjoyable after watching the studio video where the children have a ridiculously overbearing teacher-overlord, but it’s otherwise a typical radio single. Not my cup of tea.
Death Dance comes up next and it’s another typical Sevendust track; great musical verses, strange change-up into the chorus, repeat. It really shows promise in the opening, as it changes beat in the first verse but ends up shifting into the usual catchy chorus. It’s not a bad track and it’s better than most on the album. Next is Forget, which is what I’m probably going to do with this one. Letters comes up next, and I swear if you didn’t know Lajon’s voice you would think this song was written by a completely different band and accidently included. It ends up getting pretty radio-rocky and this is another that will get stuck in your head, but maybe for the wrong reasons.
It probably sounds like I hate this album. I don’t. I’m just really hard on the band, unjustly really. They’ve gone through some rough times, with Winedark providing terrible marketing and financial support and with their accountant racking up $120k in unpaid taxes. They went bankrupt and have had to write music to survive. There are some solid tracks on Kill the Flaw for sure.
Not Today would easily make a “Best of Sevendust” album, and could possibly make it to the top 3. It sounds like it could’ve been on the Home album. Sick tempo and it seamlessly slides in and out of the chorus. At first the single-syllable lyrics seem simplistic, but they fit the beat perfectly and allow for some nice echoing emphasis at the end of verse-lines. The only thing missing are vocal contributions from Morgan. Clint does a fine job, but Morgan’s screams are definitive Sevendust.
The band hails from Georgia, and for the first time I think EVER (not counting acoustic tracks), we hear a track that has some serious southern influence with Chop. This is an exciting sound, and one I hope they continue to explore. It’s like a little bluegrass beat gets the Drop-B 5150 distorted treatment. This is another song that quickly places itself among Sevendust’s best. The titular track, Kill the Flaw, is sadly forgettable while both Peace and Destruction and Slave the Prey have some really standout moments ruined by some offputting section changes. But if you don’t have Slave the Prey (bonus track) then the album ends with a strong lasting impression with Torched, a fast tempo sledgehammer track that maintains intensity throughout.
In short, if you’ve enjoyed the last two albums from Sevendust, you’re in for more of the same here in Kill the Flaw. It has highs and lows but if you’re a longtime fan like me, you’ll pick it up anyway and just stick with the high points.
For review reference, if I had to choose 1-3 tracks from every Sevendust album to form my Sevendust playlist, here’s what I’d end up with:
- My Ruin
- Xmas Day
This album is especially guilty of having really awesome verses followed by really awful choruses.
- Skeleton Song
- Rumble Fish (come on, great crowd interaction)
- Too Close to Hate
- Broken Down
There’s something about the way this album was mixed that makes it stick out like a turd. Also it was pretty tough to pick at least one track here.
- Shadows in Red
This one probably has the highest Morgan usage-rate of any Sevendust album.
- Here and Now
- Got a Feeling
- Murder Bar
- Come Down
- Silly Beast
- Not Today