Review Summary: An excellent performance across the board makes for a memorable, fantastic album that comes highly recommended
After rocketing to underground metalcore fame with the release of their debut album, Avenged Sevenfold sought to expand on their already-praised sound for the follow-up. The band wanted to remove the more frequently criticized elements of their debut to put out something that would spark shockwaves and propel them to the mainstream, and their sophomore album would succeed in this. Gone are the irritating, overly forced unintelligible shrieks and torturous wails of their first album, and in their place is a refined, mature and accomplished record.
Instrumentally, this album is a cut above the rest of the pack in its genre. From Synyster Gates' sweep-picking-infested soloing to the low-end rumbling that fills in the gaps on tracks such as Second Heartbeat, this release stands leaps and bounds ahead of what came before. The guitar work is often catchy, including an instantly memorable harmonized riff that kicks off fan favorite Unholy Confessions and the magical-sounding riff-fest that is Chapter Four. Synyster's solos are very well implemented to ensure that they actually contribute another dimension to the songs here. As such, they do not descend into mere tuneless shredding sections but there is clearly a lot of thought gone into keeping them melodic. Meanwhile, drummer The Rev puts in the performance of a lifetime with some fantastic work in the build-up to the verse of Radiant Eclipse whilst continuing his reputation as a master of his kit on the second part of I Won't See You Tonight.
Despite the much improved and often monumental instrumental performances, the real catalyst in the success of Waking The Fallen is M Shadows' vocal performance. On their debut, he blindly groped his way through the album, often singing completely out of tune and throwing whatever noises he could together and then referring to it as screaming. On this release he is a different animal altogether. His harsh vocals are mesmerizing, from the low roars on Radiant Eclipse to the frantic and furious higher shrieks on Unholy Confessions. This is a captivating performance for any aspiring vocalists, but also one that remains as recognizable for the clean vocals. Frequently throughout the duration of this record, one will hear Shadows giving his all with some melodic and tuneful singing that has so much emotion channeled into it. However, the actual vocalist is only half of the puzzle, with the lyrical content staying highly relevant and also astounding listeners.
Waking The Fallen is a tightly produced, absolutely fantastic album that should be a staple of any metal fan's collection. From the moving I Won't See You Tonight Part 1 to the instant classic that is Unholy Confessions, this release leaps and dives between angry passages and calm sections that keep you hooked on the journey that this album is.