A pair of heavy metal heavyweights hope to deliver a knockout punch to Fayetteville music fans on  Oct. 15 when Taproot and Sevendust play Jesters Pub.{mosimage}
    Both bands are highly regarded by critics and fans alike, with Sevendust having topped the independent album charts with three of the group’s eight albums, while Taproot has reached as high as No. 33 on the Billboard charts; also, Taproot was hailed by Rolling Stone as “the next contenders for the new metal-crown.”
    In addition to its chart success, Sevendust has a local connection, with Cumberland County’s own Clint Lowery providing guitar and vocals for the Atlanta-based band.
Sevendust is famous for its incendiary live shows — a fact not lost on Taproot’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Stephen Richards.
    “They’re one of the best live bands I have ever seen,” said Richards. “They’ve got me shaking.”
Taproot, based out of Ann Arbor, Mich., is touring in support of a new album, Our Long Road Home, which Richards says is aptly named as Taproot gets back to its “roots.”
    “Over the course of our four albums we’ve really matured as men,” said Richards. “We’ve all came back home to Ann Arbor and some of us have families. So we’ve changed ... Our music has changed.”
    Richards acknowledges that some hardcore Taproot fans may be put off by the new album, which is more melodic and not quite as heavy as previous CDs, especially the band’s debut on Atlantic Records, Gift.
    “Some fans wonder why we didn’t simply recreate the heavier music from Gift,” said Richards. “But what they don’t realize is that when that album came out, most of the songs on it were three years old.
    “We’ve changed and so has our music,” said Richards. “But the new album (released Sept. 16) has gotten good word of mouth on the Internet and on our Myspace page. After one week we had already sold 7,700 copies and were in at 65 on the Billboard charts.”
    Despite being more polished than past Taproot efforts, Richards says there are still plenty of “heavy” songs on the CD.
    “The album’s first track, ‘The Path Less Taken,’ is not only heavy, but I think it’s the best song Taproot has ever recorded,” said Richards. “And there are several other songs that would probably qualify as being in the ‘heavy’ class.”
    Sevendust is also pushing its newest album, Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow, which is a sort of “home brewed” affair — the songs were worked out in the home of guitarist John Connolly.
    “It was very exciting to work that way,” Connolly said on the band’s Web site. “With a lot of songs, we’d sit there and go, ‘oooh, it’s not the strongest in the bunch.’ And then all of a sudden we’d get all the pieces in the puzzle and finish it up and everyone would say, ‘Wow, that’s our favorite song on the record.’”
    Drummer Morgan Rose also expressed his happiness with the intimacy of the living room CD.
    “It was a good way for us to work,” Rose said. “We were able to get away from the record for a little while, then periodically revisit it while we were on the road, and let other people hear a little bit of what we had done and then go back in the studio to get back to business.”
    The album also features an appearance by Chris Daughtry of American Idol fame and a cameo by former Creed guitarist Mike Tremonti.
    These high-profile collaborators led to a quilt work of different music styles and sounds that leave the highly regarded album sounding much different from previous Sevendust offerings.
    Tickets for the Oct. 15 show are $25. For more information, call 423-6100, or email jesterspub11@hotmail.com.

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