Sevendust Serves Up Nü Nostalgia with Black Out the Sun

Nineties nostalgia -- with its grungy flannel shirts, giant Gameboys, and crunchy guitars -- is upon us. The next "remember the days" wave will undoubtedly be for the late '90s/early 2000s, when nu-metal first took hold of the radio dial (it's held on ever since). So expect Coal Chamber, Sevendust, and Lacuna Coil's upcoming gig at Marquee Theatre to provide not only a "party like it's 1999" fix but also something fresh for both old and new metal fans.

For almost 20 years, these three bands have reached various levels of success, and this tour is an ideal way to introduce younger fans of Sevendust's catchy and melodic rock sound to Coal Chamber's heavy downtuned guitars, noisy textures, and punk intensity. And, of course, the latter's older fans can easily take to Milan, Italy's Lacuna Coil, who've spun together gothic style, such influences as Beethoven and Meshuggah, and contrasting dual female and male harmonies since 1994.

"I haven't seen some of the Coal Chamber guys in 12 years," says Sevendust guitarist John Connolly. "I thought it was a joke at first. But then I was like 'Hell, yeah!' It's reliving the early days."

Reliving the early days, indeed. The last time Coal Chamber and Sevendust shared the stage, it was 1999, after Coal Chamber had released its first two albums, 1997's Coal Chamber and 1999's Chamber Music. After the tour, Coal Chamber bassist Rayna Foss married Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose and the two had a child, prompting Coal Chamber to hire a replacement bassist. After their third release in 2002, band members had a physical altercation on stage in Phoenix and announced it was one of the last shows Coal Chamber would ever play.

In late 2011, as Coal Chamber reformed to play Australia's Soundwave Festival, Sevendust (comprising vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, drummer Rose, guitarist Clint Lowery, bassist Vince Hornsby, and guitarist John Connolly) quietly decided to take a break after churning out hit records and touring relentlessly since 1997. In late 2012, the band reconvened to write a new album, which is the type of music that may very well stylistically tie all the bands -- and old and new rock fans alike -- together on this tour.

"We had missed each other a lot. The break for us was a big step in the fact that we needed to remind ourselves, that if we didn't have this, how would feel?" says Connolly. "Sometimes you're touring and making so much music you don't take a second to appreciate what you have. It's a gift: five people still together after 15 years of releasing records and 18 years as a band."

Sevendust's ninth album,

Black Out The Sun

, was released today.

"I call this new album our greatest hits record of the songs you've never heard," explains Connolly. "It's got a couple throwback vibes to it, like the melodic element of Animosity [2002], the deep feeling of Home [1999], and the heavier direction of Alpha [2007]. I think it has a different kind of song from every one of our other records."

It's also darker than any other Sevendust album, attributed to the time off and various personal hardships.

"There was a lot of speculation going into this record; it was the longest break we've ever had in the history of the band," admits Connolly. "I'm not going to lie and say there wasn't some stress and tension. And it was a tough year; Morgan lost his grandmother, Lajon lost his grandmother, and Clint lost his dad. It has hope to it, but a darker vibe." It was also the first time the band self-produced an album with original guitarist Clint Lowery, who took a leave of absence from 2003 to 2009, and also the first time the band went into the studio to record with absolutely nothing written.

"There's a different vibe when you write the album in the studio," explains Connolly, who says the band finished the recording process in less than a month. "When you have five very opinionated band members . . . sometimes your vision isn't what everyone else's vision may be."

When it comes to rehashing the days of cruising on tours together almost 15 years ago, one thing the musicians can find relief in is that the good music hasn't changed. Although the way the fans receive it now may be different, by taking videos and photos on their smart phones. But that's one area that everyone can agree on has changed for the better.

"One thing I couldn't live without on tour now? My iPhone," laughs Connolly. "Back then? Calling cards. You couldn't go anywhere without a calling card, and then you had to find payphones to use them. You know, some of the cool guys had pagers, the first version of texting. I don't even know where you would buy a calling card now if you had to."

Lucky for Sevendust, the calling card of their musical style was dialed in a long time ago.

Sevendust, Lacuna Coil, and Coal Chamber are scheduled to perform Thursday, March 28, at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe.

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