For years, I have said that no record could ever top Animosity as my favorite Sevendust album. They’ve come close a couple of times, but nothing could quite match the raw power or emotional resonance that the older album had to offer. Then along came Kill the Flaw, and my preconceptions shattered. This album is the most complete offering that Sevendust has ever created, hands down. The diversity of styles, the brilliance in composition, the flawless execution – everything on this album reflects a band that desires to deliver the most authentic, heartfelt, and unique performance that they can muster. I would be remiss if I did not mention the vocal performance of Lajon Witherspoon on this album, because it is the defining moment of his career as a singer. This record carries genuine emotion, vicious brutality, and true-to-life experience within its eleven tracks, and every single one will reflect something deep within listeners. That reflection is because of Lajon’s unique ability to evoke a reaction in anyone that hears him, and it’s one of the many aspects of Sevendust that make them special. Kill the Flaw has resulted in the band’s first nomination for a Grammy, and while it is a long-overdue honor, I am ecstatic that an album of this caliber got them to that point.
Key tracks: “Not Today”, “Torched”
“BUT WAIT!” I hear the readers exclaiming already. “Chris, Sevendust is your favorite band of all time. You are one of their most devoted fans. How could this album not be at the top of your list? Nothing could have beaten this!” Well, readers, I’m just as surprised as you, but two albums from the rest of this year’s output were able to knock Sevendust off the top. Let this be a testament to the quality of this year in metal, because it was quite an excellent year.
Byzantine hooked me in with 2008’s Oblivion Beckons, only to break my heart by breaking up one day after its release. I was so glad that they came back two years later, though, because I believed they had so much unrealized potential that needed to be displayed. This is the record where all of that potential was put on display. When a friend of mine asked me to describe this record, I called it “the raging death-spawn of Pantera and Gojira”, and I stand by that description. The groove on this record is unlike anything I’ve heard in the past decade, and the technical/progressive elements scattered into the music show just how much maturity this band has gained throughout their years in the underground. One listen to “Justinian Code” was all it took to convince me that this was the Byzantine I’d been waiting for. This was the band that had such a high capacity for greatness, if only they were given the time to reach it. Suffice to say, they have definitely reached it, and the future is limitless for West Virginia’s finest.
Key tracks: “Justinian Code”, “The Agonies”
“Nobody beats the Byz,” as the saying goes, but one album managed to. It was an album that, at the beginning of the year, I didn’t even know would be created, from a band that I didn’t know existed. Now, I can’t imagine anything else at the top of my list. Here it is…