On August 23, 2013, "Avenged Sevenfold" released its sixth album, it had a clear direction and an understandable plan, but the band did not imagine that this album would reach what it reached and make it one of the biggest metal bands of that year!
Even if you are not a devout fan of the band but have listened to the band's five previous albums, we are sure that you too have felt the development that the band is going through, the maturity, and constant evolution. Tragically, the band's big leap occurred on their previous album, "Nightmare" an album that was a significant landmark after the death of the band's drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan in 2009, who was not only a great drummer but also the charismatic and creative force in the band.
The band members who entered a very difficult crisis managed to deal with it strongly and came out strengthened and victorious with an album that went straight to 1st place in the charts.
And let us mention the song "Trumpet Call" by "Walkways" because just like the song say,
the band A7X (the band's nickname) went through a process...
From Survive to Revive and finally to Thrive
The band's new line-up, which included drummer Arin Ilejay (who played on the previous album's tour), produces here the first full-length album after the tragedy. And not just any album, an album that is a landmark in the band's history just like Metallica's Black Album (to be continued). The band presents a new and impressive level of music.
True, you can say that this is a natural development and the result of maturity, but this will only diminish the value and power of this album. It seems that the members of the band decided to abandon the metal-core style that characterizes it and explode into the world of hard rock and classic metal.
(Photo: Avenged Sevenfold)
Singer and leader of the band M. Shadow said that they wanted to bring the influences from the world of classic metal and classic rock of the 80s and 90s but add the element of A7X. There are indeed songs here like "This Means War" and "Heretic" that sound like they were taken from Metallica's Black Album, "Doing Time" which is taken from Guns' "Use Your Illusion" and many other influences from Megadeth, and Led Zeppelin but, and there is a big BUT!!!
The A7X has its own distinct DNA, no matter how much you try to compare or dress it up with the hallmarks of other bands it will always sound like itself. Why? Because of Shadow's voice, because of Synyster Gates' guitars, and of course because of the drumming style that Rev used in the band. All of these constitute a distinct DNA that is not implied in two faces!
This album is strong, powerful, and furious, it will unleash deadly lightning bolts on you that will stab your body and blast you with powerful thunders that will shake your body. Although the drummer Iljai does an amazing job here and tries to maintain the continuity of Rev's style, those who make the essence of the work here, the core of the album, are the original quartet who proves here a huge musical talent.
Gates with solos taken from the pantheon of guitars, Zacky with hitting and addictive riffs, Johnny with the strong bass, and Shadow, who took a vocal leap here.
This album has riffs and melodies designed to grab you and shake you hard. Songs that will stick with you on the first note and make you want to sing them out loud just like it happened here in Israel at the band's concert that took place in 2018.
So it's true, some will say it's commercialization, just like they said about Metallica and that's why the comparison is made. Still, it doesn't really matter when the music is great, penetrating, empowering, and exciting and that's exactly what this album is!!
The album opens with the song 'Shepherd of Fire' which introduces you to a dramatic scene of the sound of bells and whispering flames with brass instruments directly bringing the power of the drums and the low riff that was in the background after 1.04 minutes explodes and you look down in amazement and realize that you are just floating in the air, what a huge opening song for the album. The band members said that they wanted to create a dramatic and powerful opening for the album to give the listeners the feeling that they are going to listen to something big.
We don't calm yet and immediately move on to the first single and the theme song of the album "Hail to the King" which came out and burned all the radio stations and charts. What a beautiful riff, what a beautiful chorus, and what a beautiful voice of Shadow, we are hooked!!
A stadium song designed to lift the crowd into the atmosphere and shake it hard, oh yes... and then comes the solo !! Gates said that for this song he took inspiration from the jazz player Django Reinhardt and incorporated elements he knows how to play in his music.
Moving on to "Doing Time" which comes straight from Guns' style, from the guitars, through the vocals to the structure of the song, but say what you will, it's pure pleasure. It doesn't sound like a cover or imitation, it sounds exactly what it is, it's an inspiration/influence!
And if we were talking about Guns then let's move on to Metallica with "This Means War" (this is guaranteed to be the last comparison), the strong pulsating beats, and the heavy and slow riff, what a treat. It gets into the veins and cannot be stopped so don't try to resist or deny it, it is strong!!
Gates wanted the listeners to not stop moving throughout the song to the sounds of the guitar and drums and he succeeded.
A dramatic opening on "Requiem" and immediately we continue the line of the previous song with the bass drum pounding like a hammer and the thick and heavy guitars like an old metronome moving from side to side. The band members said that the song was inspired by the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and we are sure that if he had listened (or felt it) to the song and especially to the solo he would have been proud. We also have to mention Shadow's vocal power which here reaches unimaginable heights.
About the opening part of the song "Crimson Day" Gates said that he had never heard or recorded such a clean form of guitar, the recording was made by a microphone sitting on the amplifier and not from the guitar directly to the console. The sound gives an amazing volume to the song and together with Shadow's vocals, it is simply moving, a classic in the making.
The next song "Heretic" is the first song written for the album and it sounds more like the previous songs of the band. Gates said that in this song they wanted to bring a bit of their progressive style and bring out the instruments in a unique harmony. This song gives a slightly different tone to the album.
Now we are coming home with "Coming Home", all the members of the band give here a strong and disruptive rock'n'roll work. A beautiful sweeping melody with moving words that take you to the end.
A song that the band members created to express the love they have for home and the homesickness whenever they are on the road.
The album closes with two songs that are actually one story in two parts, "Planets" which is a meteoric war that causes an apocalypse that eventually leads to "Acid Rain". Gates said that it was very difficult to write these two songs in terms of the structure, vocals, lyrics, and guitars but what an epic ending, exciting for an amazing album!!
The band has always stood out for the weight it gave to melodies and choruses in the structures of its songs and here it is expressed with greater power. There are indeed plenty of catchy riffs and anthemic choruses here, but the band stays true to itself and brings its enormous talent to the fore in an amazing way.