HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Rage - Soundchaser

Peavy has been through career hell through much of the latter '90s and beyond, having three quarters of his line-up bolt amidst a spate of experimental, ill-received records, the band finally regaining their unique verve on '02's Unity. Soundchaser continues that record's lusty refrain, the combative Wagner/Smolski/Terrana line-up carving deep gullies into a concept album about the band's Lovecraft-derived mascot. But none of that is necessary to enjoying the pounding pre-power metal punch of the band's canny metal madness. Peavy considers the album a bit of a back to the roots'er, crediting his writing relationship with Smolski, the guitarist, who bites into these tracks the way Primal Fear could only wish. As well, the band, in conjunction with perfectionist producer Charlie Bauerfeind have found a neck-throttler of a drum sound, not to mention nice icing touches such as piano parts. But the thrust of the album is inspired power metal that steers clear of clichˇs, Rage borrowing more from old Rage and commercial Coroner for the substantive, weighty riffs enclosed. A crowd-pleaser fer sure, and with Peavy's gruff but melodic vocal oddity, how can ya lose?
Rating 8

Sevendust - Seasons

I thought it was pretty funny, seeing label execs calling Sevendust "a great artist development story," referring to the fact that the band has three gold albums now, but no platinums, like this was the planned trajectory, or as if the powers were pleased with themselves for not yanking the band's deal for not selling fast enough or sumthin'... y'know, we're commandeering their career like they did it in the old days - with patience. In any event, Sevendust, now onto their hopeful fourth, continue to be the acceptable face of nu-metal, maybe even more nu and poppy than before, but still, distinguished by the deft, soulful melodies of vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, an impressive sense of groove, and quite gorgeous choruses. Sheeny commercial hard rock maven Butch Walker is the band's fourth producer in four tries, and the results are powerful and palatable, a compliment to a band that continues to not suck, while being pretty much conventional modern rock, for better or worse. I mean it's weird, but the amount of crooning used to be what set Sevendust apart from "rap metallers" (That's what we used to call nu-metal, remember?), but with Godsmack and Nickelback yodeling away at the top of the charts (hence, imitators too), these guys aren't so friggin' different anymore.
Rating 6.5

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