If ever there was an appropriate time for such a saying it would be here. Donning the same garb as many a "hxc" scene band, had I not already been well versed in Huntington Beach's Avenged Sevenfold, I might very well have shrugged the young band off (in 2005 anyway, don't crucify me now…). But looks can be deceiving, and the metalcore-turned-traditional metal act is the perfect example. Formed in 1999, they've released three albums and are writing material for a fourth, due sometime this year. With the follow up to 2005's City of Evil, frontman M Shadows has promised fans a new, radically different sound and while this may or may not occur, the American band is no stranger to change. For City of Evil, their breakthrough album, is quite different from its predecessor, Waking the Fallen. Gone are the –core elements. Gone is the awful screaming. And most importantly, gone is the band's tendency to write weak, filler material.
City of Evil was one of the first albums I had ever bought, and when I did bring it home, I instantly fell in love with it. The band's relentless musical assault, spearheaded by the potent Synyster Gates/Zacky Vengeance tandem, is very effective, particularly in the likes of Burn it Down or Trashed and Scattered, two tracks which display the album's power and energy. Backed by the ferocious drumming of The Rev and the mostly inaudible basslines of Johnny Christ, Synyster Gates (lead guitar) and Zacky Vengeance (rhythm guitar) often take the spotlight with their solid rhythms and flashy leads. Songs like, again, Burn it Down, showcase Gates' new found love for guitar harmonies and uncontrolled soloing. These leads often play a large role in the mood or atmosphere of the track, and are highly versatile. Be it in epic tracks such as the sombre The Wicked End, or the somewhat laidback Sidewinder, or more aggressive offerings like Trashed and Scattered or Blinded in Chains, Synyster's efforts really enhance the direction and overall sound of the songs.
So what else makes Avenged Sevenfold's third album so great? Unlike Waking the Fallen, which contained measly tracks like Desecrate Through Reverence, Radiant Eclipse, or I Won't See You Tonight Pt. 2 and their debut, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, which included all songs not named Darkness Surrounding and We Came Out at Night, the band's latest album really has no weak material. While some songs such as Beast and the Harlot, Betrayed, and Blinded in Chains are weaker than the other tracks, but are still very listenable and quite enjoyable at some points. Where Avenged Sevenfold really shines is on tracks 7 – 9. Each of Sidewinder, The Wicked End, and Strength of the World contain experimental elements, be it through the exceedingly enjoyable flamenco guitar (played by Brain Haner, Synyster's dad) that dominates the end of Sidewinder, the choir and orchestrated moments of The Wicked End, or the haunting acoustic and violent elements which dominate the first couple minutes of Strength of the World. With all do respect to Chapter Four, I Won't See You Tonight Pt 1, and Burn it Down, these three tracks represent the band's creative minds at their very best. The rest of City of Evil fluctuates between fast, aggressive numbers such as Burn it Down and Trashed and Scattered, more mid-paced offerings like Blinded in Chains, and slow power ballads like Seize the Day. One of the notable aspects of City of Evil is the length of the songs. The shortest song on the album is Burn it Down at 4:58. Yet despite several of the songs exceeding the 6 minute mark, none of the songs ever lose their lustre and plod along. Avenged Sevenfold knows how to write a long song, and keep it enjoyable throughout its run time, something not every band is capable of. Overall, the material played on City of Evil is very strong,
Avenged Sevenfold has taken a lot of heat in one area of the band's music. The vocals. As everybody and their dog knows, the band, for various reasons, took a different vocal direction from their screaming ways of past. And despite what detractors say, I think vocalist M. Shadows does, for the most part, a great job. His clean vocals, while definitely not as powerful as they were on Chapter Four or I Won't See You Night, fit the album's tracks a lot better now then they would if he had not hired a vocal coach. Though they are very nasal, his efforts are very enjoyable in songs like Burn it Down, Blinded in Chains and Sidewinder. Along with Synyster's guitar duels, Shadows' singing dominates the mix and if you do not mind his voice, you shouldn't really have a problem with the album. However, while his voice is decent at some points, it's incredibly bad at others. The chorus of Strength of the World, the spoken chorus of Trashed and Scattered (Trashed and Scattered again…) and the last verse of M.I.A. are all cringe-worthy moments featuring the vocalist at his worst. His voice just sounds, well…bad here, be it because he tried to sing notes too high for his range or notes which are too low. But aside from that, he's pretty decent, and can enhance a song when he's at his best.
Of all three albums in the band's 7 year career, City of Evil is easily Avenged Sevenfold's best. Taking a more classic metal direction, the band presents a more accessible, but also more enjoyable sound. Infectious lead guitar work, furious drumming, excellent song writing and emotional singing are all highlights of the group's works, and showcase what Avenged Sevenfold is capable of. Epic songs like The Wicked End and Sidewinder are two of the bands strongest songs yet, songs that, outside of the vocals perhaps, are strong enough for both new metal heads and seasoned metal heads to enjoy. City of Evil shouldn't be too difficult to find, and I highly recommend it, especially to new listeners of the genre.
The Wicked End
Burn it Down
Strength of the World
I've only heard three songs from this album. I didn't really like them. The ones I heard were Bat Country (stupid name for a song), The Beast and the Harlot, and whichever one they play on the radio. They seemed fairly boring.
Great review though. This Message Edited On 01.27.07
One thing...I like I Won't See You Tonight Part 2. It's got a killer solo, even if it is a bit Kerry King esque (OMG LET'S HIT RANDOM NOTES ON THE GUITAR AS FAST AS WE CAN!). I don't like this album at all though. It's quite overproduced in my eyes (the drum triggers sound AWFUL), Shadows's voice is extremely nasally for my taste, and quite a few of the songs have pretty bland riffs.
On the plus side, a few songs are extremely cool, especially Beast And The Harlot. Probably one of the best they've done.
This album use to be okay to me, but i listened to it again and I greatly disliked all of it except for Beast And The Harlot, which is only average in it's own at best. I hate that they changed their sound so much from their old stuff, which they didn't have to do even if Shadow damaged his voice from screaming. They try to make thmeslevs come off as progressive with the absurd length of every song. This album would be much better if the cut down every track by 2 minutes or so and gained some talent.
I agree with the album being overproduced, and the drusm and vocals sound very bad. The guitars are nothing impressive and I have no comment on the bass. The song titles and lyrics do nothing for me and neither do the band members themselves (opinion gained from several interviews I've read).
I hope their next album is less of a mess then this.
Seize the Day was awful, staining my opinion on the band. I've never really bothered to look too much into them. I liked Bat Country and didn't really care for Beast and the Harlot. I liked the review though.