Two years of nearly continuous touring established Sevendust as a pounding metal band, but the quintet's members had a slightly different sound in mind when they headed back to Atlanta to write songs for their second album, "Home." They hired producer Toby Wright not because he'd worked with Korn but because of his experience with the Wallflowers and Alice in Chains. The latter's meld of belligerence and melody was the model for such new songs as "Headtrip" and "Grasp," which supplement singer Lajon's bellow with tuneful vocal counterpoint.
If the gospel vocals of "Licking Cream" and the industrial beats of "Feel So" take Sevendust in a funkier direction, the album still has plenty of crunch. Piledriver rhythms and blaring guitars parry with Lajon's voice for control of the songs. Still, it's the pop and soul touches that distinguish "Home" from assembly-line headbanger fare.
Last time around, Skunk Anansie was a hard-rock band too, but this British quartet has ventured considerably farther than Sevendust in its quest for an updated style. The group's third album, "Post Orgasmic Chill," opens with a psychedelic drum'n'bass flourish, and is soon swelled by a string section and a thundering riff that suggest Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." Singer-guitarist Skin still howls and the rest of the band still pummels, but the wide dynamics and high drama of songs like "We Don't Know Who You Think You Are" suggests that she's been studying P.J. Harvey.
Such songs as "The Skank Heads" and "On My Hotel TV" -- the latter a blistering attack on bigotry from Afro-British lesbian Skin -- the band recaptures its early punkiness. Too many of the songs, however, indulge the current Britpop taste for grand gestures. In fact, such rock-operatic tunes as "Secretly" and "I'm Not Afraid" revive the pomp of the '80s power ballad. Skunk Anansie, meet Whitesnake.
Both appearing Sunday at the 9:30 club with Powerman 5000 and Staind. To hear a free Sound Bite from Sevendust, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8134. For a free Sound Bite from Skunk Anansie, press 8135. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)