The acoustic album.
It’s a concept that gives me a feeling of heartburn and often evokes an audible “ugh.” The entire concept of “stripping down” a band’s sound is a concept that sounds amazing in theory, but when executed it sounds like an uninspired warm-up set that the artist threw together in order to fill some sort of contractual quota or to satiate the salivating fans who are clamoring for any kind of music from them.
With that being said, Sevendust went out and proved me wrong.
Time Travelers and Bonfires, the (mostly) acoustic record from the Hot-lanta born metal stalwarts is actually a really awesome record. The album actually does two things really, really well, it highlights the glorious pipes of lead singer Lajon Witherspoon and it showcases the deep, introspective lyrics of Sevendust.
Unless you know absolutely nothing about Sevendust, you already know that Lajon is one of the premier singers in the scene. On this album his aggro, “lion’s roar” style of singing is put on the shelf. On display is his more sensitive and thoughtful side, but don’t get it twisted, this isn’t some weepy unplugged emo side of Lajon. There’s still a sense of toughness and ferocity here, but the unplugged Sevendust needs the more harmonious side of Lajon to make this record work.
Yet, it’s actually hearing the lyrics cleanly and clearly that puts Time Travelers and Bonfires over the top. Sevendust is a loud, aggressive band that creates a mammoth sound and sometimes the lyrics get lost. You can’t necessarily blame the band because how many of us are guilty of getting lost in the moment of the music and let the lyrics pass us by?
Here, the mammoth metal sound of Sevendust has been replaced by the actual lyrical content of the songs. For example, look at the band’s most recognizable song “Black” how many of you have actually examined the lyrics?
Voices call, they call out my name, my name, my name.
Well, they say I’m different. Well I’m not the same, same.
You say you want to, ah, be like me.
Well, boy let me tell ya, you don’t know what I’ve seen.
They say a devil lives in my soul.
I promise not to let him take control.
I’m mindin’ my own business.
I ain’t doin’ nothin’ wrong. [repeat]
Shadows follow so close behind me.
I look in the mirror; I don’t like what I see.
Oh, God, can’t you help me get outta here, here?
I feel like I’m livin’ deep in hell.
To me, that’s much deeper and heavier than I ever thought these lyrics were. The lyrics meant more and hit harder on this record than the albums they originally appeared on and that’s truly a statement on how good of a record this is.
If the acoustic record is something you skip over because you feel they aren’t inventive, creative or interesting, this record will change your mind. Time Travelers and Bonfires is a highly imaginative reinterpretation of brutal heavy metal into the acoustic world and that actually is a creative, thoughtful and exciting.