Review: Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King
Hail To The King (Warners)
Hail… is A7X’s sixth studio album and their first UK No.1. The title track has already notched up over 5.5 MILLION views so far. They have over 14 millions fans on Facebook. In 2007, their self-titled album Avenged Sevenfold debuted at #1 on the US Billboard specialist Alternative, Hard AND Rock Charts and #4 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart; in 2010 their album Nightmare reached No 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The band’s track Shepherds On Fire features in the new Call of Duty®: Black Ops II game and they’ve hooked up with MACHINIMA for a six-episode animated series, which tells the fictional story of the Death Bat – the band’s longtime trademark. It will air later this year on the YouTube.com/HappyHour channel. They’re coming for your children.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Nobody gets as big as Avenged Sevenfold without making enemies. Already past eight million album sales, Southern California’s metal princelings are not yet in the Metallica or Limp Bizkit league, but have a strong claim to being the biggest American hard rock band of the 21st century. Commercial success has inevitably brought accusations of betraying their metalcore origins, careerism and bandwagon jumping. And it’s fair to say singer M. Shadow and cohorts have yet to find a unique voice while cherry-picking from nu-metal, thrash, hardcore, goth rock and even emo.
On their sixth album, A7X have elected to turn this into a strength, embracing a multiplicity of genres with confident swagger. Like their last release, 2010’s Nightmare, Hail To The King was produced by Mike Elizondo, the LA studio veteran whose track record includes Jay-Z, Eminem and Alanis Morissette. It has power, darkness and bucketloads of testosterone. But it also contains softer pop-metal numbers like Crimson Fire, the closest A7X have come to a power ballad. Old-school purists will hate it. Good.
While power-chord slammer Doing Time nods to their metalcore roots, pumped-up aggression anthem This Means War is one of many tracks leaning into Metallica territory. The title track/lead-off single is purpose-built for adrenalised arena crowds, its melodic thrash slathered in speedfreak guitar solos and a percussive war-chant refrain. Meanwhile, Shepherd Of Fire combines devil-horned metal with heavy grind, tolling bells, ominous doom chords and a Faustian lyric: ‘I can promise you paradise, no need to serve on your knees.’
A couple of makeweights mar the album’s latter half, but quality control is high. The best numbers are the most bombastic, where A7X forget about appeasing genre snobs and really pile on the baroque’n’roll excess. The centrepiece is Requiem, which combines scary Latin chants, twisty riff arpeggios and horror-movie screams into a rock opera. The mighty Planets takes imminent intergalactic cataclysm as its theme, mashing dystopian sci-fi with a stomp- metal chorus bigger than the Death Star.
The apocalypse looms again in the climactic Acid Rain, an orchestral power ballad whose piano-driven arrangement and love-conquers-all lyric feels closer to Muse than any metal ancestry. Behind the macho bluster and armour-plated riffs, it seems Avenged Sevenfold are closet romantics at heart. Who knew? (9/10)
For more http://www.avengedsevenfold.com/