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Sevendust Animosity

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Friday, December 7, 2001 @ 11:54 AM


(TVT)

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Man, I think I fucked up. Those big mouth prison guards went and told all the inmates on the cell block that I write for KNAC.COM and now it seems like every single one of them is going and looking up my articles on the computers in the prison library. Let me tell you -- being an inmate and admitting that you like an Incubus album because it’s thoughtful or sensitive is commensurate with putting a sign over your ass that says “entrance.” Let’s face it, if I wasn’t in solitary confinement, I’d be a dead man…or at least an anally dilated man to be sure. Speaking of which, just the other day some officers had to take this one femme inmate to the infirmary. Seems this guy was really in demand around the ol’ jailhouse because he’d been taking hormone pills for well over a year now and his mammary glands were said to be ripe for the picking. The Department of Corrections was in a quandary regarding this inmate because it couldn’t move him to another facility since he hadn’t actually undergone his sex change operation yet. Yes, when he does finally go in for this surgical procedure late next year, “Lorenza” should personally thank each and every one of you since it will have been your tax dollars that helped pay for it. I suppose his popularity made it inevitable that he would have at least two lovers and that one of them would eventually find out. Geez, and when he did, that guy was pissed -- he was so mad in fact that he rammed a saltshaker so far up his ex lover’s poop shoot that they had to get it surgically removed. I shudder to even think about it. Since then, visions of various forms of rectal torture have visited me throughout all hours of the night as I’ve been forced to listen nervously to my fellow prisoners talking about me and to me from the neighboring cells down the hall.

“Sensitivity sucks -- you cute little bitch.”

“I got your train to Mexico right here, Kerby!!!”

“Djou like dat midget? Didja? I want one too. Bettya can’t guess what I’m doin’ right now.”

“Rigid groove. Boy, I’m gonna get you into a rigid groove. You gonna like it too, cutie.”

“Hey, Kerby -- why don’t you review some Tupac? What da fuck? Don’t you want no chocolate in yo vanilla?”

This is hell. I finally went to one of the guards and begged him to tell me why the fuck they did this to me, and he just laughed and said, “I don’t know. It’s rare we get a celebrity in here….not that you are one, but you’re as close as we’ve got. Man, they all just love you now. See what I’ve done for your popularity rating?”

“What the fuck are you doing? You’re gonna get a saltshaker shoved up my ass! Fuck that, they probably have a nice…nice fuckin’ prickly-ass pineapple waiting for my rectum. Let me tell you. My ass isn’t use to that kind of shit.”

“Hang on, before you get yerself all in a dander, I’ve got an idea.”

“Let me guess. You’re going to lend me some fucking Coolio -- right?”

“No, better than that. I’ve got Sevendust’s new disc, Animosity, right here.”

“Whoopee.”

“Listen, you should be grateful. They’ve got a black dude singing lead which should help you out a little wit da brothas, and they play a helluva lot harder than Incubus, so maybe everyone around here won’t think that you’re quite so gay.”

I had no choice. I took the disc, but I also knew that this was only gonna go so far as to furthering my rep around here. After all, Sevendust is getting a definite negative from me before we even start simply for joining the upcoming Creed tour. I heard it was a toss up for the opening slot with the major contenders being such metal heavyweights as Puddle of Mudd, Nickelback, Days of the New and KNAC.COM’s own favorite (thanks to me -- I’m kidding here, dammit): Incubus. I understand they’re even going to promote this concert billing as an evening with “Bands Who Rock, Love Jesus and Don’t Scare Your Parents.” Good Lord. Sevendust has even shared the stage with Fuel too. That’s a fucking case of guilt by association in my book. I have no delusions here -- I’m sure that touring itineraries and press appearances aren’t a domain soley decided upon by the band. I’m also aware that they have all kinds of managers and publicity people in their ears saying things like, “but look, I know these guys suck, but it’s so much exposure.” Yeah, yeah, and joining Michael Jackson’s upcoming pedophile grope would create quite the media bonanza too. Sure as hell doesn’t mean I’d ever want my band doing it…ya know, if I had a band. If I wasn’t in jail and all.

Regardless of who they tour with, I’ve always thought that Sevendust is a band that has lacked a definite sense of discernable image. I mean, they play hard, seem to believe in what they’re doing and everything -- it’s just that they don’t do any one single thing better than any other band. The most significant individual asset that this group does possess, which may eventually distinguish it from the other bands vying for supremacy in this arena, is Lajon Witherspoon’s voice. One only has to listen to a few Sevendust songs to realize that Lajon can belt out lyrics with a resounding intensity as well as convey lyrics in a smooth, soulful manner. On this offering, it’s the tracks that allow him to utilize this vocal diversity which have the most effect. “Xmas Day” is the song with most reverent pace and contemplative lyrics. Witherspoon’s ode to a specific unrequited love comes through with a vivid meaning that actually places you in the same room with the girl who “sleeps with a phone on her chest and a bottle that’s totally dry.” And during the last line of this dirge where he sings “and this love must die” makes for a convincing conclusion. Everyone has been there at some point. The other song that does the best job of showcasing the range of Lajon’s vocal ability is the disc’s closer, “Angel’s Son,” which explores the age-old dilemma of how to get through the pain when someone close to you is taken away. These two tracks prove that if this band is going to find itself and put a signature on the music world it’s going to have to do it through the utilization of its lead singer’s vocal diversity and by discovering a way for the music to complement it more consistently.

Given that, an album can’t be made up entirely of ballads and love or else what you’re left with is a White Lion cassette. The introductory track here: “Tits On A Boar” reminds me of my last love affair with a welfare mom who resided in a double wide near where I used to park my car. The song does have some interesting tempo changes and a lot of energetic screaming. Of course there are the requisite tortured lyrics that one would expect from an offering entitled Animosity. When Lajon asks, “Change your face and show me, how is it you can sleep?” you know that it’s directed at all those fake two-faced plastic bastards out there. Shit, who knows? Maybe they’ve already met Creed. If that’s the case, then I understand this single.

The following song, “Praise” is getting massive airplay including some spins on our beloved KNAC.COM. It’s the up-tempo tune on Animosity most likely to garner a push on the repeat button of your cd player. It is definitely a quality offering, but it isn’t the kind of track that’s strong enough to define a band or be the cornerstone of a musical legacy. It’s just a song that happens to be a slight degree better than the other respectable tracks on Animosity. In other words, it doesn’t make it great, it just makes it pretty good. Basically, once the shelf life of this disc has expired and the Creed tour is over, “Praise” isn’t the type of selection that DJs will be clamoring to place in their rotations five or ten years from now.

There are a couple of midtempo tracks on this disc worth mentioning as well. “Trust” and “Crucified” do a commendable job of trying to strike a balance between powerful music and the strength of Lajon’s voice. Trust has one of most recognizable choruses on the disc, and it’s delivered with a certain degree of feeling and earnestness which is interspersed with the obligatory screaming. “Crucified” is the angriest sounding song on Animosity and lyrics like “The first time I knew you lied, I ended up crucified. Don’t you feel like a shit” are said to have been inspired by the band’s severance with longtime manager Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister. Uh, I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that judging by the content here that the parties involved aren’t exactly on good terms right now. Nevertheless, I learned from Lajon’s vocal delivery on this track that if you enunciate it just right, “shit” can rhyme quite well with “bitch.” Damn, if I had only known this back in the day when I was scribbling verses about pee pee and poo poo on assorted bathroom walls, I’d have inserted these words in obscene couplets in stalls all over the place.

When the disc had played out, I was left to just sit back on my bunk and stare at the concrete walls trying desperately to conjure up some kind of cohesive idea that would encompass all of what I felt about this band. Giving Animosity a great review would probably alleviate at least some of the harassment around here, but it would also mean lying like hell. It’s better than average, but a long way from great. Sitting there listening to the taunts of the prisoners around me, all I could contemplate was that old saying about a “sum being more than it’s parts” and after hearing Sevendust, I am wondering if the reverse might be true. I say this because on paper, this band has a lot going for it. The group is more than competent, the singer has commanding presence and voice -- it just seems like they haven’t found their niche—kinda like me. There’s just something missing here -- an element to their music that would take them to the next level. Then it occurred to me that what Sevendust currently lacks is that tenuous degree of melody and madness that separates good bands from great bands and raises them above the realm of the commercially viable and on into the arena of music that makes a difference. After all, anyone can make records that sell -- not everyone can make ones that are remembered.

***


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