Avenged Sevenfold prove they are back, with their sixth studio album which packs a ferocious punch into the metal genre.
It has been three years since we have heard from the foursome – apart from the song Not Ready To Die on Call Of Duty: Black Ops in 2011 – and the anticipation has been eating away at the fans. Mainly due to them wondering how the album would turn out. It was unknown whether or not their 2010 album Nightmare would even happen, due to the death of drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan in 2009. It was uncertain if the band would be able to carry on, thankfully they did and produced a brilliant album which was a great dedication to Jimmy’s memory. It took the band a long time, however they were always going to come back to the studio, but the question was – would Hail To The King live up to the expectations, and it be worth the 3 year wait?The record opens with ‘Shepherd of Fire’, a song which sets the dark atmospheric tone for the rest of the album. A sort of devilish, cataclysmic end-of-the-world theme which is echoed in to each of the preceding tracks. It begins the album with something that every metal album needs – an intro which gradually gets bigger and bigger as each instrument introduces itself into the song.
The album doesn’t let up as we delve straight into the band’s most recent single ‘Hail to the King’, which begins with an electric fast-paced riff, that continues into the hard-to-not-sing-along-to chorus. Which Shadows screams out as he sings about whether or not society needs all the people at the top who are in power, and why can’t we run our lives the way we want to. Doing Time is the next track, and although the shortest on the album – at only 3:27 – it is still a powerful metal punch, which gets your blood racing as it is one of the album’s fast-paced songs. Fans of Avenged have always known how unique Shadows’ voice is, it’s gritty raw tone defines their songs and it is used almost like another instrument in the band. So it is great when Shadows uses it to its full potential, which is what we hear in this song, his voice screams and nearly drowns out the rest of the band in a sort of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) fashion.
For those of you not familiar with the band, Avenged Sevenfold consists of M. Shadows (vocals), Synyster Gates (guitar), Zacky Vengeance (guitar) and Johnny Christ (bass). Originating from Orange County California, the band were part of the heavy metal scene in the early 2000s along with Atreyu.
The middle of the record takes us on quite a varied journey, we get a story about the war within ourselves which we constantly fight on a daily basis in ‘This Means War’, and ‘Crimson Day’ is about Shadows wanting to be there for his son during his life. We are taken all 18th/19th century with ‘Requiem’ which turns the classic beautiful music pieces on their head, as the band create a heavy metal version of one.As soon as ‘Coming Home’ crept through the speakers it was obvious that it was going to be an instant anthem which rolled around in your head for weeks to come. It is definitely the most powerful song on the album and presents everything which is great about the band: a huge memorable chorus, a 2 minute guitar screeching solo and verses with riffs which make you want to raise your fist and bang your head as hard as possible.
The album seems to be much more slow-paced than some of their previous records, possibly because of the pace of new drummer, Arin Iljay. M. Shadows says that it is a metal album, and he’s not wrong, it’s just not as metal as their 2005 masterpiece ‘City Of Evil’, and their earlier albums – Waking The Fallen (2003) and Sounding The Seventh Trumpet (2001). Hail To The King takes aspects from different places in their career, it offers the face-melting guitar solos of City Of Evil, the thought-provoking lyrics from Nightmare and the powerful choruses presented by Shadows’ voice from their self-titled white album (2007).
Hail To The King is concluded in much the same way as their previous three albums did, with a song – ‘Acid Rain’ – which makes you listen and learn from the lyrics, whilst pumping out your best air guitar impression. The song never really takes off like ‘A Little Piece Of heaven’ did on The White Album though, and I don’t think the band are ever going to top the conclusion of City Of Evil which had ‘M.I.A’, one of the bands best efforts. But the huge screaming chorus and lyrics still dig right into your soul like “There’s no death, no end of time, when I’m facing it with you”. The band round off their sixth album with a tale about being with the one you love when the end of the world is happening, but not caring because as long as you have that person everything will be fine.
It has been said by some that Hail To The King is to Avenged Sevenfold, what The Black Album is to Metallica, and it is fairly obvious what they mean. Shadows has even said in interviews that this album is the band growing up and moving on from their previous albums, it shows a different side of Avenged, one that – in my own opinion – will see them creating music for many years to come.
Listen to: Doing Time, Heretic and Coming Home.
The full track-listing is as follows:
Shepherd of Fire
Hail To The King
This Means War