Fast guitar solos. Skillful double bass drumming. Heavy riffs. All of those are terms that apply to heavy metal music. Avenged Sevenfold’s third album, City of Evil
has all of those things. So why do some people insist upon saying that Avenged Sevenfold is not a metal band? We all know the story. Vocalist Matt Shadows messed up his voice by screaming incorrectly on their first two albums, so he was forced to use clean vocals throughout all of City of Evil
. Avenged lost a lot of old fans and gained a lot of new ones with the release of this album. It’s catchy enough to appeal to people that aren’t into metal, yet it still has all of the elements that metal fans love. Some people say they’re sellouts; others have touted them as the saviors of metal. I don’t agree with either of those. But one thing’s for sure: Avenged Sevenfold is metal.
I’m going to come right out and say that the vocals on Waking the Fallen
and Sounding the Seventh Trumpet
were awful. The clean singing was just alright, but the screaming was terrible. My vocal chords hurt just listening to it. So I think I’m justified in saying that Shadows’ surgery was the best thing that ever happened to the band. Instead of barely understandable pig squealing, we get straightforward rock/metal vocals. Although the vocals are a huge step up from their previous efforts, I still have some complaints about them. Shadows’ screaming was no doubt painful to listen to, but some of the vocals on here are painful as well, just in a different way. On some songs, when Shadows hits a high note, it makes me wince just like his screaming did. Also, his voice tends to comes off as whiny here and there, most notably on Seize the Day
. Fortunately, whiny singing is the exception and not the rule for this album.
Additionally, I felt that they tampered too much with Shadows’ vocals. Overdubbing is prominent throughout the whole CD, and it can get annoying after a while. I can understand that they wanted to take attention away from the lack of screaming by making his new voice stand out as much as possible, but at times it feels like they messed with it too much. The most obvious example of this is in Beast and the Harlot
. Every vocal line is overdubbed, and although it sounds good, I think they should have laid off on the overdubs a little bit to let Shadows’ natural voice be heard more. When his voice isn’t being hampered down by overdubs and whininess, Shadows’ voice is incredibly strong. His lyrics aren’t too shabby either. Their first two albums contained average metalcore lyrics, but Shadows’ lyrics on City of Evil
are equal parts epic and powerful. Whether the subject matter is the apocalypse (Beast and the Harlot
and The Wicked End
), revenge (Burn It Down
and Strength of the World
), or a pseudo-political commentary (Blinded in Chains
), Shadows shows some immense writing skill that just wasn’t present on their first two albums.
Although I don’t like their previous efforts that much at all, one thing that has always impressed me about Avenged Sevenfold’s music is their “structureless song structures.” Every song on this album is longer than four and a half minutes, yet A7X manages to keep them fresh by throwing in multiple bridges, variations on verses and choruses, and numerous guitar solos. A verse-chorus-bridge-chorus formula is rarely ever used. The increase in musicianship is even more impressive than the change in vocals. A7X compensated for the lack of screaming with their instruments, most notably the guitars. The solos on Waking the Fallen
were good, but Synyster and Zacky took it to a whole new level on this album. You can find everything on this album from sweep picking (The Wicked End
, Seize the Day
) to an acoustic solo (Sidewinder
, courtesy of Synyster’s father), to harmonizing (M.I.A.
, Bat Country
), to all out shredding (Beast and the Harlot
). They don’t disappoint with their riffs either; check out Strength of the World
. The Rev is a pretty talented drummer, and he likes his double bass pedal. His standout song is Blinded in Chains
, where he goes crazy with some sweet fills and fast feet. Johnny Christ, sadly, is not heard for most of the album. He’s a pretty skilled bass player, and they should give him more room to show off his talent. He isn’t invisible though; he can be heard playing some nice riffs on songs such as Blinded in Chains
and Trashed and Scattered
Best Song on the Album
The Wicked End
– This song’s got it all. An awesome bass/harmonized guitar intro, great lyrics and vocals, a sweet solo, and a creepy orchestral section coupled with choir vocals.
Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil is one of the most impressive metal albums of the past few years. It’s catchy, yet heavy and technical, but not so technical that the instrumentation distracts you from the rest of the music. In my opinion, this is a better representation of the metal genre than any Metallica or Slayer album.