Avenged Sevenfold
City of Evil


3.7
great

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
February 4th, 2014 | 53 replies | 2,112 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


Chapter III: The Big Time

Avenged Sevenfold are perhaps the band that I have the most "love-hate" relationship with when it comes to metal music. They have great records (Waking the Fallen, this album); they have absolute trash (self-titled, Hail to the King). Many of the band members are very skillful at their instruments, and yet they frequently choose to waste their talents on lazy songwriting and recycling musical themes from past greats like Metallica and Iron Maiden. Even vocalist M. Shadows is in the same position; sometimes his vocal performances are solid and varied, and at other times they're absolutely grating or completely boring. However, many people will say that the band's better work lies in their early releases, namely their first three. Aside from Nightmare, which was pretty solid (if inconsistent) in its own right, I can get behind that. Where does City of Evil fit into all of this?

Well, it's pretty much in the bittersweet zone between the lengthy harmony-driven metal tunes of Waking the Fallen and the uninspired and boring moments of the self-titled record. You could view it as a transitional record in that right, but admittedly that would be selling it short at the same time. Essentially, the album's quality heavily depends on which side of it is being heard. Tracks 1-6 are on the more conventional side, whereas tracks 7-11 give off a more ambitious and "epic" character. The latter is definitely the strongest of the two, clearly more inspired by classic bands like Iron Maiden and even putting some progressive metal touches here and there, most obviously displayed by the longer length of these tracks. Highlight "The Wicked End" even manages to throw in a choir around its halfway mark, leading to one of the most emotionally resonant climaxes of the band's career. "Sidewinder" experiments with classical guitar soloing courtesy of guitarist Synyster Gates' father, while "Strength of the World" uses an acoustic intro and outro that utilizes an orchestra and prominent crescendos in drummer The Rev's percussion work to create something more dynamically varied. Even while the songs have a tendency to drag due to their length and occasional lack of ideas (ESPECIALLY with "Betrayed"), the attempts to keep things fresh and varied are welcomed, particularly for a group who are generally known for their derivative nature.

The first half is definitely a more mixed bag compared to the second half, focusing more on shorter and catchier tunes. There's one particular problem with these songs that needs to be addressed now: M. Shadows needs to shut his mouth and let the musicians shine a bit. I'm not kidding; he overdubs over himself almost constantly, drowning out the exceptionally solid and enjoyable instrumental work. While it's more understandable with the album's sole ballad "Seize the Day," it would have been nice for the metal songs to focus more on the instrumentation itself. The reason this wasn't brought up with the second half of the album is because it isn't as frequent of a problem there. It would also be less of a problem if M. Shadows' vocals were better, but this happens to be his worst performance in Avenged Sevenfold's discography. He basically has two vocal settings here: nasally whining (see: the chorus of "Strength of the World") and constipated high shouting (see: many songs, but particularly the climax of "The Wicked End). It probably seems ridiculous to single out this aspect of the album so much, but it really gets distracting. However, if you can get past that, there's still plenty to enjoy from a songwriting standpoint. "Beast and the Harlot" is a strong opener with a neat guitar solo in the middle that emphasizes harmonized chromatic runs effectively, while "Bat Country" and "Burn It Down" are faster cuts that display the band's technical skills and particularly The Rev's flashy drum work. For that matter, the entire band upped their game from a technical standpoint from the previous album Waking the Fallen. Whereas that album was more cohesive and consistent, City of Evil is more technically accomplished and varied.

City of Evil is not the best Avenged Sevenfold album, but it's certainly among their best. While a bit overlong and placing too much emphasis on vocals, it's still very solid if you go in with the right mindset. If you can't get past the annoying vocal work, this probably won't do much for you; however, if you can, there's plenty of great musicianship and ambitious (particularly in the second half) songwriting to enjoy. At least this isn't nearly as bad as their self-titled... speaking of which...

To be continued...



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user ratings (3187)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



9684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I guess it's sorta weird starting a discog review in the very middle, but I was listening to this again recently and wanted to review it first. Also, the "The Big Time" thing at the beginning of the review indicates that it's known as the band's breakthrough record.

ButteryBiscuitBass
February 4th 2014



9746 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sweet review for a good album.

BigPleb
February 4th 2014



34066 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This has some great riffs.

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Rev
February 4th 2014



9382 Comments


used to be my favorite record



i'd love to listen to an instrumental version of it. matt ruins the band so hard


hard to guess who my favorite member is huh

EvoHavok
February 4th 2014



1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'The Wicked End' is still the jam after all the years.

Digging: Ningen-Isu - Burai Houjou

avonbarksdale221
February 4th 2014



8071 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Waking The Fallen kills this imo

loved these dudes back in the day

InfamousGrouse
February 4th 2014



3196 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i think the majority of us did, they serve their purpose as a good gateway band

Digging: Jackson C. Frank - Jackson C. Frank

wwf
February 4th 2014



405 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I like every other Avenged album at least a little bit but for some reason every song on this album irks me.

DrHouseSchuldiner
February 4th 2014



5643 Comments


cant stand M. Shadows vox at all

Mister Twister
February 4th 2014



1493 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

shadows vokes dont bother me as much as others it seems

i dunno theyre pretty average. this probably has some of the best stuff theyve done like the wicked end or m.i.a.

spookynewghostfriend
February 4th 2014



3297 Comments


so then I grab my mountain dew and my copy of call of duty black cops and start jamming city of evil because I'm so tortured

SitarHero
February 4th 2014



4603 Comments


^lolz

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



9684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

@spooky: And I guess I'm doing just that right now, lol

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
February 4th 2014



20641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review. album is rly nostalgic cause it helped me get into metal

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



10003 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Guitar solo at the tail end of Sidewinder is still fucking killer.

Digging: Deniro Farrar - Rebirth

Azn.
February 4th 2014



5563 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ah I remember this album fondly

Digging: Trophy Scars - Never Born, Never Dead

Tunaboy45
February 4th 2014



1788 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Yeah, I absolutely despise this. Good review though.

Digging: Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory

Libertarian
February 4th 2014



84 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This is the last A7X album I bought after being so disappointed with it. Shadow's cleans killed my interest in this band. I'm all for bands changing it up, evolving, etc., but this band actually devolved from their sound on Waking the Fallen.

VermTheInquisitor
February 4th 2014



489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is sweet, lol.

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
February 4th 2014



4813 Comments


Bold review, man. This is the only A7x I can tolerate.

Digging: Integrity - Those Who Fear Tomorrow



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