CD: City of Evil
Artist: Avenged Sevenfold
Release Date: 06/07/05
Label: Warner Brothers Records
On Avenged Sevenfold's newest CD, a major record label debut, "City of Evil", they learn towards more of a metal atmosphere than the blend of punk and hardcore seen in the past. They pull of the transition amazingly. First, a review of the instrumental and vocal aspects of the album.
Vocals: A blood vessel bursting in lead singer Matt Shadows throat? Not a problem for the band, whose screaming had to be put to a halt due to that fact. In fact, after taking vocal lessons from Axl Rose's voice coach, the vocals sound better here than on any previous releases.
Guitars: Let me start of by saying, this is not the best I've heard out of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance. The playing on "Waking The Fallen" was better than this, but not by much. I will also say that guitarwise, the only album I have heard so far this year that even compares to "City of Evil" is Trivium's "Ascendancy". The solos are mind blowing, some of the riffs even too.
Bass: The band makes sure you can hear the bass on the majority of the CD. And because of that, we get to see how solid of a bassist Johnny Christ actually is. He lays down a straight-forward rhythm for the rest of the band, and it works well for them.
Drums: The Reverend is a very good drummer. Always working the double-bass, to go along with the fast-paced guitars. Adding in fills that seem to fit everywhere; his performance on this record defintley tops anything I've heard out of him except for the song "Chapter Four" on WtF. Its going to be hard for him to beat what he put on the table here on their next record.
Ok, so now a track-by-track review of the CD...
1. BEAST AND THE HARLOT *5 out of 5*
The opening of this song is orchestrated perfectly, with what will be for this CD, a rare growl from Shadows, being eclipsed by matching guitars and cymbal hits. The rest of the song carries on like an epic, with the verse and choruses describing the "city of evil" that the song is themed around. At the end of the song, the guitar mimics the vocals. A great opening to this album.
2. BURN IT DOWN *4 out of 5*
A song based around one of the main themes of the band, revenge. Synyster pulls off a solo that almost made me fall out of my computer chair the first time I heard it. A very fast paced song. The only problem with the song is Matt's vocals. They get high-pitched and annoying during the chorus, definitley a result of hiring Rose's coach. Still, a great song nonetheless.
3. BLINDED IN CHAINS *5 out of 5*
A politically fueled song, and they pull it off well. Lyrically, one of the best written songs on the album. The Rev's drumming talents are very evident in this song, with the amazing fill he adds in at 2:50. Vocals sound good here as well, which helps compliment the lyrics.
4. BAT COUNTRY *5 out of 5*
Opening with the spoken "He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man," the lyrics to this song are a tribute to great late author Hunter S. Thompson, and are based on his book "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas". The lyrics are very catchy and singable from beginning to end. A great drum performance by The Rev, an amazing solo by Synyster, and a great twin solo by Synsyter and Zacky. On of the best songs on the CD.
5. TRASHED AND SCATTERED *5 out of 5*
Another revenge/hate song, and its just full of anger from beginning to end. The lyrics are reminiscent of a "You can't tell me who I am" kind of theme, this way directed towards people who say things about the band. Another song with great drumwork and you can also hear good basslines in the back.
6. SEIZE THE DAY *5 out of 5*
The "love" song of the CD, reminding us of the great power ballads of the '80s. The piano, played by The Rev on the recording, has a huge presence in this song. You'll also notice that everything really starts getting pieced together at the end to make this huge sound. Not only does Shadows' vocals sound like Axl Rose on this song, but Synyster is shredding as Slash would on a song such as this. Another one of the best songs.
7. SIDEWINDER *5 out of 5*
This song is pieced together well. I'm still trying to understand completely what the lyrics are about. The chorus lyrics mesmerize you, and reel you into the rest of the song. But even if the chorus didn't, the bridge guitars would still, and then it brings you into the second part of the verse where everything speeds up, leading into a part with Matt singing in front of an acoustic guitar, and then everything else just bursting in. And it closes with a spanish-type guitar with bongo-like drums. Very different, but still amazing.
8. THE WICKED END *5 out of 5*
This may be the best song to be released for all of this year, in all genres of music. If not in all genres, it is the best metal song to be put on a record this year. Opens with pounding double-bass and complex guitar riffs, which lead into the fast-paced song with lyrics based around the apocalypse, which then slows down a bit for the chorus. It repeats itself again until the guitar solo, whereafter the music ceases, and it goes into an orchestra-type part, and then the "doomsday apocalypse" singing comes in, and then it slowly dashes back into the song. Truly breathtaking.
9. STRENGTH OF THE WORLD *5 out of 5*
The longest song on a long CD, clocking in at nine minutes and fourteen seconds. But don't look away from the song because of its length. That just means even more great things are added in. The main basis of the song is again revenge, this time avenging the murder of immediate family. It starts acoustically, and then blistering into the song with the guitars once again leading the way. The chants of the song name in the chorus add on the dramatics of the song. And there's not one but TWO solos and also a twin-solo too. Closes out with some violins complementing what the guitars did to open the song. Once again, a great song.
10. BETRAYED *5 out of 5*
It took me a little while to get into this song. Its about the murder of metal guitar legend Darrell Lance Abbot, known by the stage name of "Dimebag". The main reason it was confusing at first was probably because the song is sung in the perspectives of Matt, Dimebag, and the killer. When I got into it, I realized that was what made the guitar so great. Also, the intro riff will easily pull you into the song.
11. M.I.A. *5 out of 5*
Another political-esque song, this time not about the leaders of the country, but of the idea of war, and the harsh realities of it. This was another song that it was hard for me to get into. Another song that starts slow, but then after about a minute everything breaks in. The chorus is another chorus that gets you wrapped up in the song. Good closer to this amazing CD.
This is one of the best CDs I have heard so far this year. It is one of the only albums I plan to give five stars, along with SOAD's "Mesmerize", but we'll see what the rest of the year brings. Chances are though, that this album won't be topped by more than maybe one or two others.
OVERALL: *5 out of 5*