Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Avenged Sevenfold's "Hail to the King" Album Review

Grade: 8/10

Track List
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
11. St. James (Bonus Track)

Avenged Sevenfold has always been one of those bands that I've avoided over the years. Every time I heard a song of theirs, I would shrug my shoulders and insist to whomever showed me them that they had nothing on any melodic death-metal band. It wasn't until their sixth studio album, Hail to the King, that I had started giving a damn about this band.

The only reason this album happened to shoehorn itself into my musical taste is because of how annoying and catchy the songs were. “Shepherd of Fire” has a bass-line and rhythm that make you appreciate the other parts of the song that you didn't enjoy at first. “Hail to the King” followed that up with a very new-wave sound that almost made you believe that you were listening to a later Iron Maiden track. The positives that came out of the album go on and on, but sadly they were all tied to how catchy something was. There were no overly technical riffs or solos. The lyrics were a mediocre standard grade, with the exception of “Acid Rain.” And at the end of the album, you sit there remembering the few phenomenally catchy tracks, yet you force yourself to forget the painful tracks in-between. I had to listen to the album five times to remember “Crimson Day” as anything other than “that shitty ballad with the half-assed solo”. Now I simply know it as the clean-guitar intro that leads into a skipped song. 

All of the problems that cropped up in this album could have been avoided if the band didn't focus solely on riff-making. Sure, there was a great riff here and there, but the bass was drowned out for most of the tracks. When the bass didn't have a chance to be heard, it was nothing more than the same bass-line that was present in the previous song. The drums suffered from the same plague. They played the same beat in every song and tailored the variations to the riffs.
Don’t let all of this fool you. This album was beyond enjoyable. The songs that stick will do so for days at a time. They may have been based around the idea that a great riff could be the basis for a song, but that is what bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Metallica became known for. This album was just continuing that tradition.

In the end, this album is one that is worth at least one listen. Songs like “Shepherd of Fire”, “This Means War”, and “Coming Home” are just some of the few gems you can find on the album. They started my whole appreciation of Avenged Sevenfold. Sadly, however, “Requiem” and “Crimson Day” exist, and will make you doubt your fandom.

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