Review Summary: Avenged Sevenfold write a catchy as fuck album, much to the derision of everybody.
I'm not what you'd call knowledgeable about music. I don't have a particular appreciation for intricately crafted guitars or dynamically layered melodies - or if that even makes sense- and I barely know three chords. All I know is what I like - and that's catchy and/or "epic" sounding music. Avenged Sevenfold on their self-titled manage to deliver this in spades.
There's barely a track on this album that doesn't manage to fit one of those aforementioned descriptions, whether it's the drawn-out guttural screams that dot "Critical Acclaim" or the blisteringly quick guitar solo that leads into the final chorus of "Afterlife", Avenged Sevenfold write music that you simply can't help tap your feet or sing along to. It's not particularly original music, nothing here shook the foundations of metal or is going to re-write your perceptions of the band if you didn't already enjoy their brand of melodic metal, and the one truly original song on the album, "A Little Piece Of Heaven", is a mixed bag to say the least. But that's okay. Music doesn't always need to be evaluated in the greater context of your entire musical library, sometimes it can be enjoyed simply for what it is - and if you listen to this album with no expectations or judgements then you just may find something you enjoy.
A superb example of this is the best track on the album, "Gunslinger". It's a slow burner at first, single strings plucked as a surprisingly un-nasally Shadows layers over some typically uninspired lyrics. It soon picks up with a burst of heavier guitars before finally building into what I can only describe as, well, epic. As Shadows begins to belt out the lyrics of a standalone chorus, a choir segues into the background simultaneously with the lead guitar until it all blends together into a lovely mess of stuff that brings a smile to my face every single time I hear it. It's not original, it's not clever, but it does what it sets out to do and it does it damn well. "Gunslinger" takes place during the first - and by far the better - half of the album. The three opening tracks all follow a far heavier tone than the majority of songs to follow, with "Scream" in particular managing to blend a catchy chorus with darker lyrical content with relative ease. Along with "Afterlife" and "Gunslinger" the opening five tracks feature as the best five on the album, with an unfortunate drop in quality once "Unbound (Wild Ride)" begins.
That's not to say there's no good content on the latter half - "Lost" is a surprisingly melodic and quick-paced track with a final chorus that'll have you singing along and circus-esque "A Little Piece Of Heaven", whilst bizarre, has surely found an audience with many listeners. The latter half is let down by tracks such as the uninspired "Dear God" however, a lazy and worst of all dull country ballad that really has no right to close a metal album. As with most of the album, lyrically, the closer is un-inventive at best and cloying at worst. But it doesn't really matter. The lyrics on the album aren't anything you've not heard before, they're not clever, they're not 'deep' or suggestive; the album wears it's lyrics on its sleeves and by the time "The stars in the night, they lend me their light to bring me closer to heaven with you" rings out on "Gunslinger" then you could well be singing along anyway. They're simple and catchy, much like the entirety of this album.
Avenged Sevenfold's self-titled is like Armageddon. I know it's not really any good, I know I shouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as I do and any real "critic" is probably going to find fault after fault with it. But I enjoy the ride regardless, and can't help but give it a spin every now and again.