In 2005, Avenged Sevenfold took a creative turn and hurled a unexpected curveball to fans with 'City Of Evil,' one of the best (American) metal albums of the year. Fans were outraged with A7X losing the screamo dirty vocals and turning to a more melodic style. To me they sounded like Iron Maiden mixed with a healthy dose of modern metal. I was very impressed. Now, seemingly having moved completely away from their metalcore foundations, Avenged Sevenfold will surely turn more heads and probably, once again, piss off fans of the old style with their new self-titled fourth work. This album contains a variety of unexpected and eclectic twists and turns of style from beginning to end. A7X drew on new musical influences like country and melodic metal. The music includes some striking string orchestrations, female and choral vocals, horns, and yes, banjo and pedal steel guitar. The result is another very different, but infinitely pleasing, creation.
The album starts out hard with 'Critical Acclaim,'a song with obvious political commentary surrounded by modern metal melody. 'Almost Easy' continues with the same feel and adds a great memorable chorus. 'Scream' may remind more of 'City Of Evil' A7X than any other song. Here M. Shadows' rough yet clean vocals stand out. But things begin to get interesting with 'Afterlife' which begins with impressive strings and pounds away with a great, near funky Red Hot Chili Peppers, groove. Again, the melody and harmony of the chorus inspires. 'Gunslinger' adds the country feel with pedal steel guitar during the smooth start. It quickly moves to a hard-rocking number with Shadows' giving some great metal screams and Synyster Gates delivering the best solo on the album.
Moving on to 'Brompton Cocktail' and 'Lost,' you again find an eclectic mixture of melody and style. The former was practically to eccentric to be very impressive. But 'Lost' rushes along with some amazing fret work by Gates. 'A Little Piece Of Heaven' is probably my favorite song on the album. Shadows truly defines his vocal diversity through the course of the song. I know this guy had it in him! Along with the horns and the incredible arrangement, this sounds like a progressive metal piece with a pinch of Zappa thrown in for good measure. Finally, I must mention the wonderfully soothing 'Dear God' and its serious country groove admist a blues influenced metal style. A great song.
I'm sure 'Avenged Sevenfold' will again create another love/hate dilemma for some fans of the band. But this is unwarranted. It's great to see a band reject the mass hysteria of modern American metal and explore new and greater ideas. A7X should be praised and listened to with open mind and ears. This is a great album: highly recommended!
- Craig Hartranft
It's great to see a band reject the mass hysteria of modern American metal and explore new and greater ideas. A7X should be praised and listened to with open mind and ears. This is a great album: highly recommended!
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