Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold Review
Original Author: Goliath
Artist: Avenged Sevenfold
Album: Avenged Sevenfold
1. Critical Acclaim
2. Almost Easy
6. Unbound (The Wild Ride)
7. Brompton Cocktail
9. A Piece of Heaven
10. Dear God
Well, here is the debut to the 2005 break out album "City of Evil", which featured tracks on the soundtracks of several popular games, including Need For Speed Underground: Most Wanted and Guitar Hero II. A7x has the rare ability to polarize the listening audience, you love them or hate them. I was a big fan of their flamboyant guitar work on City of Evil so I took the plunge to see what all the fuss was about (Cover of Kerrang! and GuitarWorld this month). According to the interview in GW, the band self produced this album and is apparently very fond of it. I was excited about this album, until I shelled out the $17.00 to pick it up (it's got one of those pesky bonus features DVD so yes, it was $17.00 at Best Buy). It was obvious this media blitz was the work of a very talented publicist.
The production of this album is very high and it is very polished. There certainly are no complaints here.
First and foremost, the CD is completely devoid of the attitude that endeared them to many of the fans of their prior albums. It seems as though the band was more sedated when developing this album. Much of the blazing dual guitar work is absent (even if it's only chromatic runs it's still fun to hear). That said, the songs have a more recognizable format that seems to be present in all songs, much more pop rock than the past two albums. The songs still have a decent amount of harmonized bridges leading into a chorded chorus (if you wonder what I mean, think Iron Maiden). That said, the obsequious guitar solos are all but gone. Very few of the solos last as long or have the intensity of their former albums. Radio listeners will likely identify with the new format more, but former fans will likely find themselves un-enthused.
Another aspect of the band's polar nature is M. Shadows vocals. The first album (Waking the Fallen) was more in line with the typical Metalcore screaming, which was followed up with a more harmonic approach on City of Evil. Now, he has found a nice mix somewhere in between which would be more likely be described as "spitfire" like Metallica, but no where near as gruff. That said, the vocals were one of the few highpoints of the album.
According to the GW interview, the rhythm tracks were recorded 3 times on 3 different amps with three different "characters" then layered. That said, the tone and overall sound of the guitars is very good, however, this does not excused the more simplistic approach they took to the compositions. Metal is typically about attitude, be it technical ability, speed, lyrical content, etc. A7x apparently opted to pursue a different avenue of attitude on this album as their guitarwork lacks any real character. Some of the harmonized bridges are still very interesting and entertaining, but far and away a majority of it was just too simple to really stand out.
I kept wanting to like this CD. I'm seeing them on their supporting tour this sunday and wanted to be equipped with their new material to not be completely lost when they started playing. I came away with two tracks that I really liked off of this CD (Unbound and Critical Acclaim), and honestly the rest of the CD was fairly run of the mill with a constant theme of alienation. There are several "ok" tracks on the album and some you'll end up scratching your head over (A Piece of Heaven, Dear God, Gunslinger). To me, it appears that they tried to modernize the rock of the late 80's of songs that would start with a ballad sounding acoustic guitar then kick up the electrics. This attempt failed miserably and the end result will leave you scratching your head thinking "Did they just make this album because they felt they'd been out of the studio for too long?". "Uninspired" is a great word to describe this effort. Overall, the CD is just mediocre. The white album would be what I would expect from a band past their prime attempting to prolong the magic, not a bunch of guys in their mid twenties still full of plenty piss and vinegar.
My prediction is that the album will be commercially successful, and they will gain many new fans, unfortunately, at the cost of their old fans. I also predict their flamboyant appearance and new uninspired CD will garner many accusations of being "emo" from the internet.
I was so underwhelmed with the album I've not even bothered to pop in the bonus DVD.