It’s Disappointing

I enjoy rock and/or roll.  Even as a kid, when everyone was listening to pop, I thought it was repetitive (I remember asking my older brother – who was big into “heavy metal” – what the difference was between two hair bands; he didn’t know).  I always have a few bands on my radar that I think, “They’re gonna be good in a few years here.”

Maybe not popular, but good.  Gaslight Anthem is a good example.  My Chemical Romance is a good example of a band that surprised me (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge was derivative and sounded like every other “indie” band at the time.  The Black Parade was a masterpiece).

Because of this mindset, there are also always a few bands who constantly disappoint me.  I go out and listen to their music every time they have anything and every time I say, “Just get it together!”  One band is Against Me!  The other is Sevendust.

Since their last album was better-than-average, I thought this one would good.

I saw Against Me! A few years ago as an opening act for… somebody (Foo Fighters?).  They really blew me away with how simple their sound was and how deep their lyrics were.  Almost a Nirvana with some Jacob Dylan thrown in.  For the life of me, though, I can’t figure out why they can’t get it together.  They have about one song per album that just stands out as melodic and harmonic.  They actually put the words together with the music and make something happen.  These songs – again, about one per album – are spectacular.  The rest are ok, but they never stay in my head.  “Thrash Unreal” and their new “I was a Teenage Anarchist” are both spectacularly catchy songs in a sea of new wave punk.  Instead of something amazing, instead of something that reaches a wide audience and gets people listening to their style, we get something that sounds like everything else with one glaring exception.

The album that led to the downfall of Sevendust.

The first concert I ever went to was Metallica.  Opening for them was Sevendust.  I immediately bought all of their albums til that point.  I liked them all.  They weren’t great, but you could tell that they were experimenting with what their “sound” should be.  Not too long after that Strait Up was released.  This was a compilation band (sort of like Temple of the Dog) where a bunch of different members from different bands got together as a tribute to SNOT member James Strait who died in a car accident.  The single “Angel’s Son” was released and I think it was Sevendust’s first real taste of success.

With the range this band is capable of, you'd think this album would be better.

After hearing it, I said to myself, “OK, these guys know how to make a touching ballad, they know how to rock out in a dozen different ways.  The lead singer has an amazing voice we never really knew about before.  We’re going to hear something amazing.”  What we got instead was several albums where every song sounds exactly the same.  Sevendust had found their sound, and although please to any rocker’s ears, it’s not exactly mind-blowing.  You know exactly what you’re getting (like AC/DC, and we all know how much I have them).

A band like Weezer seems to try something new with every outing.  Even a band like Tool (who was already one of the most musically accomplished bands in America) tries to make their music more complicated each and every time.  Against Me! And Sevendust seem to be happy where they’re at.  And that’s disappointing; they could be something amazing.

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