Avenged Sevenfold band photo

AVENGED SEVENFOLD – Hail To The King

Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the KingSo, one of the bands that everybody loves to hate is back with a new album full of modern American heavy metal for mainstream rock radio. Right? Well, in the past, that is one of the things that everybody and their mother seem to hate about this band. Other things people hate about them is that they look like the stereotype of how a modern metal band should look. Baseball caps turned backwards, piercings everywhere, tattoos, short hair and baggy pants. Still, these guys sell millions of records in a time where illegal downloading and Spotify is holding the music industry’s balls in a tight grip, so one can just sit back and wonder who’ll get the last laugh. Sure, album sales aren’t everything, you can be pure crap and still shitloads of records – 90% of the pop market does just that and are just that, but what it comes down to is longevity – and Avenged Sevenfold has been around since 1999 and has been a big band for more than 10 years now, so just like with bands such as Nickelback and Green Day, it looks like the “just because of” haters are the real stereotypes here. I mean, I wonder how many of the people who hate these bands, that have been on top for many, many years now, have actually sat down and really listened to them and how many just hate them because you should. I bet there are lots of those people – I know, because I used to be one of them before my blinders came off. But to be honest, my opinion of the earlier A.S. album is that I still believe that they are somewhat weak – yes, I have really tried to listen to them, but no avail. It was first when I heard their then latest single “Nightmare” three years ago that I started to pay attention. Yes, I heard the obvious Metallica and especially James Hetfield influences in the song and in singer M Shadows’ voice, but I didn’t really care. I don’t care about originality as such – to me all that matters is that if the music’s good. If it sounds like someone else, so be it. I had also heard that former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy played on the album and was joining the band and that increased my interest further.

Now, the Portnoy deal seemed to be somewhat exaggerated, he did play on the album and the tour that followed, but he was never close to joining the band full-time. Still, I gave that album a fair shot and I really liked it. Now, three years later, I can’t say that I have listened to that album on a daily basis, but it remained in my iPod for quite a while. But since this album’s title track has been a quite common element on Swedish rock radio recently, I couldn’t help to take an interest when this album was finally released. What struck me right away was that the intro to opener “Shepherd Of Fire” was hardly original. Church bells and rain has been used shitloads of times in the past by bands such as Black Sabbath, Slayer and Metallica. What then struck me was that the whole song was full of little thefts. The opening riff is clearly brought in from Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and so is the spoken word part in the middle. But what struck me the most is that I think the song is bloody good and that I’m not annoyed at all by the stolen parts. Next up is the title track and it’s stands pretty clear why it is the first single. It’s a brilliant song, catchy metal with a guitar solo that has classical undertones. “Doing Time” has borrowed a lot from Use Your Illusion era Guns N Roses, right down to M Shadows’ screams which smells Axl Rose a long way, but still a very good song. But the album’s biggest theft has to be “This Means War”. This hasn’t just borrowed stuff from Metallica’s “Sad But True”, no, this IS “Sad But True” re-written. I bet Hetfield and Ulrich could demand a credit for this one. Still, I dig this. It’s a great song with a killer melody. “Requiem” is another brilliant track – grand, epic and has a latin chanting that almost feels satanic in a Ghost kind of way and in the great ballad “Crimson Day” Metallica shows up again, this time with a little borrowing from “Nothing Else Matters”, but to be honest, the song breathes 80’s melodic rock balladry more than anything else and I’m thinking about Warrant’s ballads when I hear this. Yes, I like it very much and I believe they might just have a hit on their hands. If we can steal from Metallica, then let’s try Megadeth as well, they might have though and went for “Symphony Of Destruction” with “Heretic” and by now even I am starting to find this slightly amusing. You can only steal so much, guys. But come to think of it, Swedish metal band Mustasch also stole both “Sad But True” and “Symphony Of Destruction” for two songs on their latest album. Maybe we have a pattern here…

On “Planets” they go big, symphonic metal on us, which is a bit of a breath of fresh air and the album’s finishing track “Acid Rain” is a beautiful piano ballad, full of strings and feels very emotional – very, very good. The production is thick, in your face, very metal but still very clean and modern, which sometimes makes you wish for a more raw and angry production – I bet it would fit them better. Now, you can hear that it’s commercially produced. But both the production and the lack of originality and the plain thefts aside, I still feel that this is a very good heavy metal album. I mean, everybody steals more or less, it’s just that everybody doesn’t wear their thefts on their sleeves like Avenged Sevenfold does. To me, when you have the songs, those things don’t matter. This might not go down history lane as a cornerstone in metal, but for now, I think this is really good and entertaining stuff.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

1. Shepherd Of Fire
2. Hail To The King
3. Doing Time
4. This Means War
5. Requiem
6. Crimson Day
7. Heretic
8. Coming Home
9. Planets
10. Acid Rain

5 comments on “AVENGED SEVENFOLD – Hail To The King

  1. Kinda like Mike also ..I have the Portnory album but I really dig the tune that Shadows did on the Slash solo album…..he should have been fronting Velvet Revolver!

  2. Better him than Scott Weiland. But I think Velvet Revolver would benefit more from a John Corabi / Paul Shortino kind of singer.

    • You know what I was into? I thought they had two very good frontmen try out for them — Lenny Kravitz and the guy from Spacehog. I never figured they’d go with Lenny but I would dig seeing them play together. Lenny on third guitar. I’d like that.

      The guy from Spacehog, I’ve always liked that one song “In the Meantime” and he kind of does this Axl-like sway with his voice. That could have been a good fit.

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