Since the release of City of Evil, Avenged Sevenfold has been crucified for knocking off the kings of 80’s metal. With their latest self-titled effort, they haven’t mimicked their idols; they just may have become them for their generation.
Avenged Sevenfold is bigger than its categorical brethren in every way. The ungodly solos, the intricate measure for measure harmonizing, the heart-attack drum licks and huge chorus’ all make for a career defining performance.
Kicking off the album with their heaviest track to date is “Critical Acclaim.” After an organ intro that sounds as if listeners are passing through cemetery’s gates and some sleek guitar work that paints the path to come, the track explodes into metal mayhem with double bass and give and take guitar chugging not heard since a certain Vulgar Display of Power. Vocalist M. Shadows’ lyrical rant is easily the most delicious liberal call-out heard in years.
“Critical Acclaim” also unleashes A7X’s newest vocal talent – The Rev. His “Sebastian Bach on heroine” vocal styling is interesting to say the least and plays an important role throughout the album.
The classic thrash of “Almost Easy” continues the upbeat journey, complete with trip-licks courtesy of The Rev and a monster chorus. Following suit is “Scream,” which possesses an extremely dark vibe, complimented with one of the most interesting ascensions and dissensions of scale heard to date.
“Afterlife” proves to be the first explicit differentiation, as it opens with mournful strings and paints a heavy picture of the young dying and trying to escape the afterlife in hopes of resurrecting what was lost. This fascinating display of self-examination and self-regret ends with the most impressive Synyster Gates solo yet.
“Gunslinger” is yet another dissension, as it starts off with M. Shadows delivering smooth vocals, only accompanied by a plucky, acoustic Gates riff. The Southern Rock vibe is strangely welcome and the moment in which the strings go electric is the kind of thing that raises goose bumps.
Shadows’ vocals throughout the album are smoother and more melodic than ever before. He has truly come into his own, developing a sound similar to that of Phil Anselmo of the now defunct Pantera.
“A Little Piece of Heaven” is an absolute triumph. With the help of Danny Elfman’s go-to guys Oingo Boingo, it sounds as if it’s the center-piece of a yet-to-come Tim Burton epic. The dark, yet circusy vibe, complete with full orchestration, vocal give-and-take between Shadows and The Rev. and A7X’s darkest lyrics to date add up to undoubtedly the biggest accomplishment of their career.
Concluding the ride is “Dear God,” an outright country track. Somehow Avenged manage to pull this off, creating their most heartfelt song to date. It obviously wouldn’t be an Avenged track without a solo, which is provided over the last minute of this monster country ballad.
“Dear God/ the only thing I ask of you is to hold her when I’m not around/ when I’m much too far away/ we all need that person who can be true to you/ I left her when I found her/ And now I wish I’d stayed,” sings Shadows.
Avenged Sevenfold is a career-defining album. This self-produced masterpiece reaches heights not even remotely envisioned within the parameters of today’s metal genre. This is a musical journey that will not soon be forgotten.