Avenged Sevenfold has risen to the top of the modern-day world of hard rock and metal. Their incredible fanbase helped earn the band Most Dedicated Fans honors at the 2012 Revolver Golden God Awards. With millions of fans around the world, and their new album Hail To The King debuting at the top of the Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart, Avenged Sevenfold should be enjoying life on their metaphorical throne, but as the saying goes…heavy is the head that wears the crown.
The release of Hail To The King has raised the ire of some critics, which doesn’t come as a total surprise. However, the critique of the album by Machine Head frontman, Robb Flynn, was surprising, unnecessary and quite frankly, way off base.
A7X frontman, M. Shadows, took the high road in his response to Flynn’s criticism, which accused the band of making an album that Flynn refers to as…“a blatant jackary of Metallica, Megadeth and Guns N’ Roses songs.” While the influence of the aforementioned bands, as well as some others, is certainly noticeable on Hail To The King, the songs are far from a “blatant jackary” of anything. Because of Shadows’ unique singing style, every track on the album captures the distinct A7X sound that the band has honed since their inception in 1999. If anything, the band deserves praise for their decision to go back to basics to make a kick-ass album that pays respect to the musical heroes that inspired them.
The band is rightfully unapologetic about making an album that is sonically similar to bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. In fact, Zacky Vengeance called the album “an homage to all of the music that we love,” and referred to the album as “the next evolution of Avenged Sevenfold.” Shadows, in his response to Flynn’s criticism, stated…“I think when you take a record like this, and the way metal has become very blast-beat, screamy-oriented, when you kind of take things back, and go to a more classic-rock feel, you’re gonna get similarities to what we were trying to do; we were trying to make an Avenged Sevenfold album from the early 90’s and late 80’s.”
Ironically, the sound that has drawn criticism for being derivative actually makes Hail To The King stand out as unique amongst modern-day hard rock and metal albums, most of which are sonically similar to each other. In going back to the future, Avenged Sevenfold has effectively bridged the gap between a generation of hard rock and metal fans who were left out in the cold by the grunge movement, and this generation of fans, many of whom have yet to discover the bands that helped define the genre.
While the influence of Metallica’s black album is the most readily apparent on Hail To The King, there are other more subtle influences as well: Guns N’ Roses (Appetite For Destruction), Queensryche (Empire), Rainbow (Long Live Rock N’ Roll), and AC/DC (“Thunderstruck”) to name a few.
On Hail To The King, Shadows has continued his evolution from a screaming metalcore singer to a powerfully raw, gritty hard rock singer with an emotional delivery that is almost tortured, yet incredibly melodic. This is the first album without founding member, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, who passed away in December of 2009. While he will always be missed by the band and A7X fans, Arin Ilejay did an admirable job of filling The Rev’s very big shoes. The drumming on the album is powerful, thunderous at times, with impressive double bass and driving beats that set the tone for the rest of the band.
The tight rhythm section formed by Illejay and bassist, Johnny Christ, lays the foundation for Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance’s impressive guitar harmonies, rivaling the legendary guitar duos of the 80’s (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Queensryche). Gates’ leads and solos are as good as any guitarist of this generation, and will undoubtedly appeal to fans of guitarists like George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen and Richie Blackmore.
Hail To The King is a throwback to the heyday of metal. The stripped down sound allows the songs to breathe, but there are still subtle layers that you really appreciate when you listen to the album through headphones. From the fist-pumping anthems like the title track and “Coming Home” to the more moody songs like “Crimson Day” and “Acid Rain,” Hail To The King is one for the ages.
Hail to Avenged Sevenfold for making an album that will appeal to hard rock and metal fans the world over. Check out the title track below…