New album welcomes former guitarist

Four words sum up my feelings about Sevendust’s new album, “Cold Day Memory”: Welcome back, Clint Lowery.

The guitarist (pictured at right) left the band in 2004 to join his brother’s effort, Dark New Day, but returned in 2008. Neither Lowery nor Sevendust appeared bettered by the split, and a few listens of the new album tell me it’s a welcome reunion. (Cue up the song “Prodigal Son.”)

I’ve listened to the new CD only a few times, but it sounds like vintage Sevendust with some polyrhythmic enhancements. “Karma” and “Splinter” stand out with 6/8 beats and intricate phrases. “Unraveled,” which has been playing like crazy on rock radio, and “Forever” feature Lajon Witherspoon’s blistering vocals and the band’s traditional use of unison musical phrases that pack a punch to the gut (in a good way).

I’ve read some reviews that pan the effort, calling the new CD too repetitive and uninspiring. Though I disagree, “Cold Day Memory” doesn’t give me enough evidence to mount a solid debate. Several of the album’s latter songs blend together, there’s little variety and there’s no ethereal, haunting song such as “Skeleton Song” or “Xmas Day.” (The reason that void stands out is because the band is so damn good writing those types of songs. Listen to “Angel’s Son” and tell me you don’t feel your spine quiver.)

But overall, I’m pleased with the effort. As I told design chief and fellow Sevendust fan Brent Fisher, this is the album I’ve been waiting for since 2003’s “Seasons.” I can’t put my finger on it, but Lowery’s return leads to a more full sound. “Cold Day Memory” gets the band on track; now it can return to the musical growth it enjoyed before Lowery’s departure.

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