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4.5 out of 5 stars
Hail to the King
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 30 August 2013
Avenged Sevenfold's influence passed through my music taste a few years ago, but still I find myself intrigued whenever they bring out new material, so, around once a year I still put a new Avenged Sevenfold on the speakers and see whats new.

The first notable thing is that this is the first album where Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan's influence is no where; he was such a huge influence on the music you can hear that loss of input. I think it was remarkable that the band carried on after such a massive loss, both musically and emotionally. They did, and this album once again marks another change in their musical style.

I wasn't that impressed when hearing the single for the first time as it didn't feel like it was painting the right picture for the album; it was painfully simple, not very dynamic and just very formulaic. After giving the whole album a listen it was clear there was much more to it than the single promised.

It opens with 'Shepherd of Fire'. A very dark, moody baritone brass intro mirroring the chords and a thudding drum riff. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album and reveals straight away how much this album is influenced by previous legendary metal bands.

After 'Hail to the King' comes 'Doing Time', probably one of the weakest on the album, it really is quite forgettable, even a stylish Slash/Dimebag hybrid of a solo can't really save it.

'This Means War' is unashamedly a direct descendant of Metallica's 'Sad But True', from every element possible: drum, guitar and lyrical timing. Thats not to say it isn't an enjoyable song, and a couple of underlying guitar harmonies do colour the song nicely and the solo is not a Hammett rip-off at least.

'Requiem' is a slow plodder of a song and leads smoothly from 'War' and presents the first full wah solo Synyster Gates has done I think. The lyrics are are as epic as the semi-ridiculous Latin chanting that opens the song, but again I think it ties together as a good song.

'Crimson Day' takes a cue from James Hetfield's clean guitar tone from 'The Black Album' and is a soft ballad. I actually enjoy Shadows' voice when harsh and loud but it isn't versatile enough here to give anything but a rather flat dimension to a softer song like this, and he has to rely on some vocal layering to thicken it up a bit.

Too many elements close to the end of 'Heretic' are extremely similar to the verse from 'Buried Alive' from previous album 'Nightmare', some of it is almost note-for-note, especially the harmonious guitar leading up to the solo, which is actually a good one: it reminds me of a Paul Gilbert solo actually; slightly more raw but melodic yet technical with a very iron maiden-like harmony to close it out. One of the better solos for me.

'Coming Home', again has a very prominent maiden influence, the verse especially. And its full of solos. Its a good fast song.

'Planets' exhibits simple thudding drums, with a trombone again underlining the chorded intro and later in the song (its actually a bit James Bond-like in places), its quite a dark sounding opening riff and typical of this album the opening chords are translated into muted thuds for the verse.

'Acid Rain' is doubtless the most surprising song on the album. Avenged Sevenfold have attempted ballads before, but none as good as this; with a piano/strings intro which is threaded throughout. Its waltz-like (the timing is in 3/4) and the tone in Shadows' voice is surprisingly impressive in all aspects, notably in in the chorus.
This song sounds like a ballad Guns n' Roses could have written if they were in original dominant form today, which is not a knock in any way as it has a definite originality and is, for me the song I'll most likely play again over the next couple of days.

Being a guitarist myself I should talk about Brian Haner's (Synyster Gates') solos; they are radically different from anything he's done before, visceral in places, from a classic tapping Van Halen influence to very bluesy vibrato reminding you of early Guns n' Roses Slash, and still with a big lean towards the raw leads of Dimebag. And then of course the classic Avenged Sevenfold harmonies. That all being said, his solos still retain the uniqueness that stands him apart from the majority of modern rock/metal guitaristgs working today.

Its a stripped back album, with clear influences of eighties and nineties metal throughout, but not produced in a way that inspires a very raw feeling in my opinion, it may well be a little too over produced, it doesn't really have that grit that Metallica's 'The Black Album' had.
I think that even though a little derivative at times it isn't a bad a thing that their influences are so discernible either, because they mostly pull it off. I enjoyed the album, but there is nothing groundbreaking to be found here. It makes you wonder if the band are ever going to stop changing their sound, or whether they'll settle on this and refine. I'll be ready for the next.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2013
This album is a step in a different direction for Avenged Sevenfold, especially without the Rev's unique song-writing style. As a fan of 80's/90's metal, I absolutely love this album. It is great music to put on just to rock out, or as background music. I'm not sure if the new songs will bring as great a reaction live as their old music, as the change in direction has polarised a lot of fans. It is admittedly a very stripped back album, but it's simplicity is one of the reasons I enjoy listening to it so much. The influence of Metallica, as well as Iron Maiden, is more evident here than on their previous albums, which seemed to draw more inspiration from bands such as Pantera. As a bass player, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed playing along to this album, and I am sure that any musician would really enjoy doing this too. Thanks to Amazon, I managed to buy this album for £6 on a one-day offer, so thank you very much for fantastic value- this will be in my CD player for a very long time!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2013
Like many other people have already mentioned, this album sounds more like a mis-matched collection of tributes to their heroes, rather than a single piece of work by the band.

When you compare this album to their previous output, I'm sorry to say (in my opinion), it doesn't come close. No tracks really jumped out of the speakers and gripped me, and after 3 or 4 more plays of the album, I still feel the same way.

Having said that, it's not offensively bad, it's just missing the edge & hooks of previous releases.
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I'm actually a little shocked that, being someone who values originality so highly, I like this album so much. There are so many obvious "influences" on this album that they absolutely smash the line between homage and plagiarism, however, they do it with such style and have made such a listenable, enjoyable, well crafted album that I have forgiven them for it. My appreciation of Avenged Sevenfold comes courtesy of my Stepson who has often referred to them as his favourite band, so it's fair to say that I've heard a lot of their material over the past few years and genuinely like them myself (my particular favourites are "Nightmare" and "City Of Evil"). This album, however, harks back to one of my favourite periods in metal history, the eighties and early nineties, with ideas, arrangements, riffs and lyrics lifted, lock, stock and barrel from acts such as Iron Maiden ("Hail To The King"), Metallica ("This Means War"), Guns 'n' Roses ("Doing Time") and, if you know these bands well, you will be left open-mouthed in amazement at the cheek Avenged have shown with some of the tracks. Having got that out of the way, I cannot help but give respect to Sevenfold for obviously loving the kind of metal I've loved over the years and replicating the appeal that era of music had so convincingly, even adapting their playing style and vocal delivery to suit the particular band they are, ahem, paying tribute to.

Although I enjoy this album in its entirety, there are a few stand-out tracks for me; yes, it's basically a re-written "Sad But True", but "This Means War" still manages to be one of my favourite cuts from this release. The classically influenced, dramatic "Requiem" is also a highlight and the guitar solo on "Crimson Day" is nothing short of spine-tingling gorgeousness, making what could be a slightly ordinary song something special. In fact, Synyster Gates' impressive guitar work throughout the album is almost a masterclass in a wide range of metal guitar styles and he has surely earned the title of one of the true greats of heavy rock. My last pick from the album would be the final track, "Acid Rain" which has a bit of an Extreme feel to it and is an ambitious, string-filled ballad; M. Shadows gives a performance Gary Cherone would be proud to call his own.

If you get your reservations out of the way, this is an entirely enjoyable album with impressive musicianship from the band being demonstrated throughout. Of course, some people may not be able to get past hearing Avenged being the ultimate tribute act for their musical heroes, but I think they have made what could easily be described as a classic rock album and also probably the most accessible record in their catalogue to date. For Avenged fans who particularly love their early material, that may not be a good thing, but for someone like me who has been a fan from "Nightmare" onwards and hasn't particularly enjoyed all of the earlier output, it's a huge positive. You can tell that there has been intricate attention to detail on this album and it is a classy piece of work from start to finish, brilliantly produced and mixed too. My love of metal has definitely faded over the years, but "Hail To The King" has re-ignited something in me that I thought had been lost and I cannot think of an album from this genre that I have enjoyed so much for quite a long time.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2013
I guess I should say from the beginning that I like this album. It is 'solid' across the board, and certainly has enough going on to be interesting and invite repeat listens. Nonetheless, as a number of other reviewers have noted, both here and in magazines, Avenged Sevenfold here wear their influences on their sleeves, and so strongly do these influences emerge, there is the unavoidable feeling that the band have lost their own sense of identity. It is difficult not to listen to the tracks on offer and not find yourself thinking of them as each paying tribute a band formative for AX7, song titles moving aside for the thought of 'ah, this must be the Maiden Song' or 'hmm - sounds a bit like Sad but True, must be the Metallica song'. Overall a listenable album, but rarely offering anything fresh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2013
Firstly, I like this album. However, it's just not a punchy as "Nightmare" or "City of Evil" which are fantastic. Perhaps it was a tall order to follow these great albums. In addition, on some of the songs the vocals is just too low (or am I going deaf?). No probelm with the previous albums.
"Hail to the King" as the title track also isn't as strong as I'd hoped for.
So overall it's a good album, but I expected better unfortunately.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2013
Excellent album I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Very pleased to get it so quickly.
Hail to Avenged Sevenfold!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2014
A great album, if you liked early nineties rock: some of it sounds so like Meallica's black album, you'll think it's them, and there's some Megadeth-a-like in there too. I couldn't stop playing it for the first couple of weeks. Recording quality is great too, unlike Metallica's most recent offerings, which i have only listened to once because of the woeful sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2013
Being a massive AX7 fan I waited with anticipation for this release. However, I'm rather disappointed to say its just ok. Not a patch on much of their earlier stuff, and quite 'lacking' in anything that really reaches out and grabs you. Still sticking with though, but I have to admit that its not really growing on me.
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on 3 January 2014
When I first heard this album I didn't get it. It was nothing like the other awesome Avenged Sevenfold offerings. Like others I assumed that the loss of the Rev spelled doom for this band. After a few more disappointing listens I nearly filed it on the shelf. It wasn't bad, just didn't feel like original A7X

Then I listed again as it was the only thing I had in the car. Like a lightbulb moment I suddenly seemed to get it. It's often said that a really good album should take some listening to before you really like it. Strange that it should be so suddenly true for this album. Definitely a favourite now. This is war is probably my favourite track.

Having got to grips with it we then went to see them in concert. What a truly rocking band these guys are. And somehow this new album no longer seemed out of place among their older songs that they played. Best rock band in the world right now.
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