6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
When all is said and done, this is Avenged Sevenfold's greatest feat,
This review is from: Hail To The King (Audio CD)
After three long years, news broke of a new Avenged Sevenfold record. For A7X fans, this was the news of the decade. Over three year old questions were being answered: Will there be a new record? Who will be their new drummer? Can they pull it off without Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan? To answer the latter question, yes they can.
Sure, before really getting into details, the album does lack a certain quality that Avenged Sevenfold had before, I can't quite put my finger on it, but was obviously inspired by The Rev's writing. He wrote songs such as "Seize the Day", "Afterlife", "Welcome to the Family", "Fiction", and the always most popular, "A Little Piece of Heaven". Coming into the record, you had to know that a song of that direction, of that calibre would have no hope of appearing, so I wasn't disappointed when I didn't hear it. However, the new record came with surprises I was certainly not expecting...
Going into the record, the band stated it would be more bluesy, stripped back and heavy. The 1980's and 1990's were big influence on the band, and why not? Metallica, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Pantera and more paved the way for them, why shouldn't they pay homage to their heroes? Following the release of the single, "Hail to the King", all was not looking up. It was certainly stripped back, formulaic and simplistic. But, that didn't mean I wouldn't still go for it.
"Shepherd of Fire" opens with the chime of a chuch bell, followed by the rumbling of thunder and enter the drums and bass. I can safely say that this record is Johnny Christ's biggest triumph personally, as he can be heard throughout the whole 60 minutes and produces good stuff. The opening track proves us wrong about our ideas regarding the record, with a heavy verse, groovy chorus and an amazing performance throughout. "Hail to the King" follows, and I think after the first track, you begin to appreciate this song more, even though it is simplistic, it is formulaic and could be passed as a Metallica song if James Hetfield was on vocals, but still, it hits hard and proves to be very enjoyable, even though the conclusion of the song is a little anti-climatic (was expecting a scream at the end). The next song, to me, is a crossover between "Chinese Democracy" by Guns N' Roses and anything Scott Weiland touched. It has that feel to it, yet "Doing Time" does deliver in its own little way. At just under three and a half minutes, this is the weakest song, but is enjoyable while it lasts. You may also see a resemblance between the opening of this song with either "Bat Country" by A7X or even "Hell Yeah" by Rev Theory.
Track four must be Metallica's best song yet! Oh wait, it isn't "Sad But True Part 2", it's "This Means War". All joking aside, the song could get Avenged into a little bit of heat with how closely it resembles one of Metallica's top song, however, there is enough difference, mainly the solo, to lay that to rest and really get into the song. It's hard and heavy, just how Avenged wanted it, and delivers. If you aren't a fan of Metallica or 1990's metal, you'll like this song regardless. Following four tracks with clear influence comes "Requiem". The Latin chant, the crazy riff, the ground-and-pound drums, the evil vocals. Like nothing I've heard before, and is one of the standout tracks. "Crimson Day" is a song I found hard to get into, and it took five or six listens, however, I have come to realise the song isn't as bad as I thought, in fact it's good, but the placement certainly doesn't help following five very strong songs. Next up is "Heretic", and Megadeth proves to be the influence here. It's catchy as hell, and the bass guitar is a prominent feature throughout again. Very happy.
I don't know how to explain it, but "Coming Home", musically and lyrically, sounds like Iron Maiden. The intro sort of resembles "Run to the Hills" by Iron Maiden vocally, in its structure and deliverance, and the whole song has Maiden's vibe: adventurous and groovy. Anyway, the song is one of the best on the record, as said before, it is groovy, features a few great solos, and an outro performed by Papa Gates. Next up is "Planets". I said nothing could touch "A Little Piece of Heaven". For me it just did. Yeah, it's not quite as outgoing as the 2007 hit, but it features crazy ass horns and trumpets, a great, groovy chorus and a mid-section that blows your mind. M. Shadows vocals are so strong and aggressive, it's awesome. Good guitar solo, and the song flows nicely into the best song on the record, and one of my personal A7X, no scratch that, one of my personal rock favourites. With a title like "Acid Rain", you don't expect, at least I didn't, a piano, strings and an orchestra, but it has it. A Pink Floyd solo in the middle tops it off as an emotional journey formed by tearful lyrics, amazing vocals, awesome drums and a great piano part. It reminds me of a Queen song, I don't know why. I could sort of imagine Freddie Mercury singing this, or is it just me?
To top it off, "St James" is a great light to the dark of "So Far Away", telling the story of The Rev from a happy point of view. Should be a proper track, it is very popular and cheerful.
Overall, "Hail to the King" provides an album full of surprises, some memorable and unique guitar solos, a great overall performance and memorable tracks. "Shepherd of Fire", "This Means War", "Requiem", "Planets" and "Acid Rain" are the top tracks. Arin Ilejay has proven the haters wrong; he is a damn good drummer with amazing skills and a hint of his own style brewing. It may be a little too familiar for some fans of 1980's and 1990's rock music, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. New fans will enjoy, old A7X fans may be split, but a good effort.