Maybe the lads from Sevendust can jet to L.A. after the band's show in Houston to put in an appearance at the Concert for Artists' Rights on February 26. That's where the Dixie Chicks and other big stars will tell the paying customers about how they get shafted by the big-label suits and various other music biz ne'er-do-wells.

After all, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon and the rest of his Sevendust bandmates are the poster boys of this musical version of Enronization: a hard-working nu-metal band from Atlanta that broke into the mid-level concert loop, spent nearly two years on the road, sold a million CDs and came home at the end of 2000 only to find that the group's management had hogged something like 90 percent of the gross.

Hell, the Sevendust guys almost had to get real jobs. There was no connection, of course, to the fact that a couple of band members, notably drummer Morgan Rose, had been Hoovering large chunks of what little came their way up their noses. ("Hey, all I've got left is this rolled-up dollar bill!")

It was only then that the band members chose to take matters into their own hands. They dramatically reduced the drug intake and hired Creed's management company. Then, like any self-respecting band, they wrote a few songs about getting shafted by industry types ("What's with you," Witherspoon demands of his ex-manager in "Crucified," "you leech off my desire") and put them on the appropriately titled Animosity in the fall of 2001.

During its epiphany, Sevendust also discovered that Witherspoon was capable of a much more dynamic range than he had shown up to that point. Animosity is a bully pulpit for his talents; there's a new sense of urgency on songs like "Dead Set." Sure, the album opens with the Godsmackin' cut "Tits on a Boar," complete with the requisite four-letter bombs and guitars as crunchy as footfalls on packed snow, but by the time the listener is confronted with the taut harmonies of "Crucified" and "Shine," it's obvious Sevendust is more useful than the hog's mammaries it sings about.

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Greg Barr
Contact: Greg Barr