Sound — 7
Sevendust's eighth studio album Cold Day Memory marks the return of guitarist Clint Lowery after a four-year break from the band, which had been trekking onward with Sonny Mayo during that time. Apparently Lowery felt the new record was one of the most difficult because there was more pressure to deliver quality material after being gone for an extended period. The resulting sound stays consistent with Sevendust's musical history, but it's true that the added guitar nuances did provide Cold Day Memory with its best moments. The album, which never ventures too far outside of the band's comfort zone, still contains enough catchy, melodic hooks that it will undoubtedly still fare well on the Billboard alternative charts.
This time around Cold Day Memory worked with producer Johnny K, who in the past has aided bands like Disturbed and Staind obtain a commercially viable sound. He doesn't disappoint with Cold Day Memory, which is chock-full of possible singles. There are quite a few tracks that follow a similar format, namely one with laid-back, smooth verses and exploding choruses that allow the metal to come through the mix. Splinter, Unraveling, and Karma are among the tracks that stick with this approach, and while predictable, you usually are guaranteed a nice crescendo. Plenty will feel the band has taken the safe path musically speaking, but the new album does have a slightly broader musical scope than some of Sevendust's peers.
At times the band broaches the industrial genre, but those moments are extremely fleeting. In both Splinter and Forever Dead, the intros feature computer-like effects that could easily have led into NIN territory. But that big transition never happens, and Sevendust usually sticks with a fairly straightforward alternative metal sound. Through it all, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon is a powerhouse in the vocal department and easily bounces between beautiful crooning and demonic growls.
Lowery and fellow guitarist John Connolly are the individuals who deserve to be given the most credit on Cold Day Memory, however. When you think a particular song is going to revolve around the usual power chords, the guitar team whips out some intriguing effects and lead work. Whether it's the whining guitar sound in Karma, the Perfect Circle-like intro in Ride Insane, or the sonic delivery in Strong Arm Broken, Lower and Connolly continue to pique one's interest.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrical content on Cold Day Memory emphasizes inner personal conflict or general obstacles in life, and the subjects are a fitting match for the music usually. Whether in Forever Dead (So go, now find yourself; You're selfish, condescending) or Unraveling (I want the world to see; You sold a broken dream; You were not there for me; I was unraveling), there is a general sense of overcoming hindrances. The lyrics are fairly commonplace for rock, with everyone from Disturbed to Killswitch Engage delivering similar themes.
Overall Impression — 7
Sevendust hasn't ventured too far out of its comfort zone this time around, although the creative effects and instances with computer-esque sounds (think Linkin Park) do add a bit more flavor. For the most part, Cold Day Memory does offer some satisfying alternative metal, even if it is slightly predicable. The arrangements are aided by Lowery and Connolly's fresh choices in the guitar arena, and as always, Witherspoon has a much broader range of vocal versatility and that in itself can carry the album.