Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King
2013, Warner Bros. Records
1. “Shepherd of Fire”
2. “Hail to the King”
3. “Doing Time”
4. “This Means War”
6. “Crimson Day”
8. “Coming Home”
10. “Acid Rain”
M. Shadows – Lead Vocals
Zacky Vengeance – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Synyster Gates – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Johnny Christ – Bass, Backing Vocals
Arin Ilejay – Drums
Producer: Mike Elizondo
Well, this one seems to be mildly controversial for a number of reasons. First, Avenged Sevenfold continues to evolve their sound. They originally started out as metalcore and slowly began to incorporate more traditional/classic heavy metal influences and now they are writing songs that I would categorize as hard rock. They are still writing heavy metal songs as well but there’s definitely some mainstreaming and a greater sense of melody going on here. Although there are cries of the band selling out, I actually think the the band is taking quite a risk of alienating their long-term fanbase by releasing an album that’s not as heavy or fast as they are known for. The band has addressed the complaints of selling out and having stated that they are simply making the music they want to make.
This is NOT a retro metal album but the band says they were listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica while writing this album and that’s extremely apparent in the case of Metallica & GNR. There are so many similarities to the point where people are saying A7X is ripping off other bands. Certainly, you can make a strong case for “This Means War” sounding like Metallica’s “Sad But True”. As much as I love A7X, yeah, that song rips off Metallica’s “Sad But True”. Also, I think “Doing Time” sounds very much like Guns N’ Roses. There are a number of Slash-esque solos peppered throughout the album as well.
I am not surprised with the style being played on Hail to the King at all. The Iron Maiden influence was obvious on City of Evil (and is again on “Coming Home”) and with each successive new release they were moving away from metalcore & nu metal and towards a more commercial hard rock/metal sound. The band has said they set out to record a classic rock/metal album with Hail to the King and that they have no interest in returning to their early metalcore sound. They wanted this album to be a modern version of Led Zeppelin’s IV or AC/DC’s Back In Black. They haven’t done that at all (that’s a ludicrous intention to announce to the world) but I do think this is a good album. It just isn’t great. I don’t have a problem with the new straight-forward direction (though I do miss the intensity and frenzy that the band has been known for) but Hail to the King falls short with compared to the band’s 2007 self-titled album and 2010’s Nightmare.
This is not to say there aren’t a number of great tracks here. “Shepherd of Fire” is a fantastic and people want to talk about Metallica but this one reminds me of Megadeth a bit, as does “Heretic”. The lead single, “Hail to the King”, is another new classic from these guys, IMO, but it’s also got a different vibe to it so I can understand why long term A7X fans may not like it.
Like I said, the album is good, but not great and certainly not the classic the band set out to make. I definitely prefer the last two albums over this one.
Highlights: “Shepherd of Fire”, “Hail to the King”, “This Means War”, “Heretic”, “Coming Home”, “Acid Rain”