Sevendust: A Metal Band With A Black Lead Singer

One thing I wanted to do with this site is highlight black musicians, especially in genres and roles where they are not very common. And you can definitely say that about heavy metal. There are a few excellent black heavy metal singers, but far fewer than there are white ones. One of my favorite heavy metal bands is Sevendust and their lead singer is Lajon Witherspoon.

sevendust on stage

By JodoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Sevendust was formed in 1994 and continues to this day. They have put out something like seven studio albums. Not all are masterpieces, but several of them are very good. In an era when nu metal ruled and most bands sounded very similar to each other, Sevendust stood out. They did so for two reasons. One was the guitar work and songwriting of Chris Lowery and the other was the vocals of Witherspoon.

When most people first saw the band, they assumed they would be a rap metal band, since there were quite a few of them at that time and they were pretty popular. Korn was one of the most popular bands period, back then and Limp Bizkit was doing very well too. At this point I should interject and point out that I was in no way ever a fan of Limp Bizkit. I just want to make that clear. Korn was all right but I wasn’t a huge fan of theirs either, but I was definitely not a fan of Limp Bizkit.

Anyway, the point was that Sevendust was not a rap metal band. Witherspoon can growl with the best of them, but he also has something very melodic in his voice that most metal singers at that time did not have. This combination made his voice unique and is one of the things that really carried Sevendust.

I mentioned before that Sevendust has brought out seven albums. Actually, that is not quite true. They have 10 albums. I guess I missed a few of the newer ones. I was a big fan back in the day, but I haven’t listened to them quite as much the past few years. The albums in order of release are the self-titled album called Sevendust, Home, Animosity, Seasons, Next, Alpha, Chapter VII: Hope And Sorrow, Hold A Memory, Black Out The Sun and Kill The Floor. I own the first six and they’re all wonderful.

Sevendust were lumped into a bunch of different genres, but never fit any of them perfectly. For that reason no one really knows what they are exactly. They themselves say they are some combination of rock and metal and blues and aggressiveness. They cite Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera and Nine Inch Nails as influences.

You can hear all of those influences in their music for sure. They are characterized by the guitar playing and the lyrics, as mentioned. Lowery, the guitarist, uses techniques that have never been seen or heard before. He uses very low baritone tunings and also new six string tunings that have never been heard before.

If you haven’t heard of Sevendust yet, check out some of their videos on YouTube. Here is one I like a lot.

What did you think? Good huh? If you like that, you should check out more. They are also really great live. I’ve seen them three times and their shows always have a ton of energy. The crowd goes wild and it’s just a blast to be there. And Witherspoon is a huge part of that. He’s very charismatic and energetic. Actually, the whole band are.

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