Review Summary: A painful reminder of what losing a creative force can do to a band.
Avenged Sevenfold is caught in a rut. The album Hail to the King sought to top its predecessor, Nightmare, without any contributions from deceased drummer James Sullivan. By the sound of this album, it is only showing that they are caught in a downward spiral.
With Hail to the King, Avenged Sevenfold attempted to capture a classic rock sound, inspired by the likes of their influences (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, etc.). In an unfortunate way, they managed to achieve their goal.
The album starts with Shepherd of Fire, and the lead single Hail to the King. Both songs sound promising at first listen, but the flaws almost immediately show. Shepherd of Fire kicks off with a riff that bears quite a resemblance to Metallica's Enter Sandman. The lead single's verse vocals are overwhelmingly similar to that of Enter Sandman's as well. Clearly originality isn't a big part of this album.
Many of the songs on this album rehash older metal songs. This Means War is nearly identical to Sad But True by Metallica. Listening to the two back to back, it is nearly impossible to tell them apart. Heretic sounds similar to Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth, although the former's guitar riff is only a higher pitch of the latter's. And finally, Coming Home starts off as if it were Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden.
Unoriginality aside, there is another major flaw in this album. The album doesn't pick up until the eighth track. The first seven seem to follow a similar slow to mid-tempo beat. The songs sound nearly identical, with the only way to tell them apart being the pauses between songs.
It is only the last two tracks that come close to saving the album: Planets and Acid Rain. The former is the only song that had anything near excitement, and the latter is an exceptional ballad that crushes the monotony of the first ballad, Crimson Day. Besides this, they are the only two tracks that seem not to rip off anything and/or make you want to fall asleep.
Although some herald this as Avenged Sevenfold's "best work," it is safe to say that this album is avoidable, and almost as forgettable as their debut album.