In some ways, Atlanta quintet Sevendust could be compared to Deftones. Both bands started out with some serious nü-metal tendencies, which got them swept up in that genre's commercial rise in the late '90s and subsequent fall in the early '00s. Both bands featured versatile, distinctive singers who managed to set them apart from their hard-rock brethren back then and continue to do so today. In the case of Sevendust, that guy is the mighty Lajon Witherspoon, whose powerful croon and tortured howls speaking to misery, suffering, and alienation are packed with — as Madvillain might put it — more soul than a sock with a hole. Intense and impassioned on album, Witherspoon has always brought undeniable charisma to the stage, making himself and, in turn, the band that much more compelling to witness. Yet unlike Deftones, who've steadily moved in a more atmospheric, experimental direction over the years, Sevendust still hangs its hat on belligerent, battering nü-metal-style riffs and rhythms — music trends, lineup changes, and label woes be damned. Not that fans seem to mind — this year's Alpha (the band's sixth full-length) is its highest-charting disc to date. And Lajon and company show no signs of easing up. Another studio album is slated for release in March, so you'll likely get bashed over the head with a big batch of new songs.

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