Sporting New Metal

From the band formerly known as Crawlspace! (ouch.)

Sevendust's Home appears just in time to cash in on the

"sports-metal" (a combination of hard rock, funk and hip-hop) craze that's

sweeping the nation, as evidenced by the success of bands like the

enormously popular Limp Bizkit. Sevendust, an Atlanta-based outfit,

predate the rage for oversized shorts, Adidas sneakers and heavy,

funkified guitar riffs. They first appeared under the name Crawlspace

with the single "My Ruin," on the Mortal Kombat: More Kombat

soundtrack in 1995, when Pearl Jam were still seen as an "important"

rock band and grunge was shivering in its flannel-laden death throes.

After a more straightahead, metallic, eponymous debut in 1997 as Sevendust,

the boyz have now returned sporting a slightly revamped sound that fits in

well with the aforementioned "sports-metal" genre, but doesn't totally

pander to it. Rather than just sounding like a heavier Red Hot Chili

Peppers, Sevendust manage a sleek negotiation of styles that brings to mind

bands as far apart on the hard-rock-o-meter as Metallica, Nine Inch Nails

and Iron Maiden (!).

There's plenty of muscle on Home, but also a heavy serving of

angst, making Sevendust's latest effort a perfect gift for that slightly

depressed member of the high school football team. Listen, for instance,

to how deftly singer Lajon Witherspoon, the band's secret weapon, blends

Bruce Dickinsonesque melody and a James Hetfieldian sneer on "Denial"

(RealAudio

excerpt), followed by the band's angular, staccato metallic

breaks, bringing to mind the work of recent hard-rock chart-toppers

Godsmack. Sevendust also work out the crucial metal/ hip-hop connection

on the heavily syncopated chest-thumper "Waffle" (RealAudio

excerpt), which struts around like a macho linebacker looking

for a hot date; they showcase their more sensitive side (something many

of their stylistic brethren lack) on "Licking Cream" (RealAudio

excerpt), on which Witherspoon sensitively croons "I wish you

weren't so beautiful" amidst soaring and spiraling backing vocals during

the song's chorus. Sports-metal types have feelings too, ya know!

Overall, if you're a fan of hard rock with a heavy dollop of hip-hop,

you could do far worse than to check out Home.