Whoa. Where do I start with this one? Okay, I’m just going to say right now that Avenged Sevenfold have created a career-defining album. It may not be their heaviest album to date, but the band ditched the metalcore thing a long time ago. This upset and alienated many of the longtime fans and I’ll admit that it kinda rubbed me the wrong way. At first. Then I realized that with “City of Evil”, the band I had grown to love with “Sounding the Seventh Trumpet” and “Waking the Fallen” were going for something different altogether. But when you think about it, each record they’ve done has always been radically different than the one before it, so a big change on this album shouldn’t come as such a suprise. Still, as different as this self-titled album is, I think it’s their best, most focused (albeit, more polished) yet. It’s the sound of a band busting out of a genre and truly discovering themselves. In short, this is their “Sing the Sorrow”. This is their “Black Album”. It’s sure to upset many, but just as many will find something to love.
Despite all the hatred these guys have had to deal with, they know who their true fans are and this masterpiece should please most of them looking to hear something different than what they’ve come to expect. Still, as different as it may be, it’s still distinctly A7X. This is apparent fromt the get-go with the first three tracks. You gotta love the intro to “Critical Acclaim” and although I’m normally not a fan of politically-themed music, it’s refreshing to hear a different take other than just how much “the administration sucks”. “Almost Easy” didn’t do much for me the first time I heard it but it grew on me after a couple of listens and I can now see why it was chosen as their first single. If the album has one weak moment, it would have to be “Scream”. While far from bad, it’s just kinda mediocre by the band’s standards. It does have a pretty cool “Vulgar”-era, Pantera-esque groove to it and it’s kinda nice to have in the background when you’re having a few.
The album really takes a hard turn with “Afterlife”. This is where things start to really get different. We will most certainly be seeing a video for this one soon on Headbanger’s Ball because it’s sure to be one of the band’s biggest hits. Starts off with some strings before diving headfirst into a dual-harmonies and insane drumming before switching into mid-temp then the chorus hits and we’re left in awe. Yeah, thsi song alone will probably gain them more fans. I’m not sure yet but this could almost be their “Unforgiven”.
“Lost” is one of my favorites right now and it’s one of those that they’re going to catch a lot of grief about. They took the Auto-tune, which is normally used for pitch-correction, and actually used it to give the Dragonforce-like track a whole new vocal dimension. Almost liked they used it as another instrument. It’s laid on so thick that it takes the vocals to a whole new level. Not everybody will dig it, purists are sure to hate it, but I think it was a brilliant move on their part.
If you’ve read ANY reviews, then you’ve probably already heard about “A Little Piece of Heaven”. The first time I heard this one, I had a vicious hangover so things were moving a little slow for me and I had to give it three consecutive listens just to wrap my mind around what all was going on. I read somewhere that the original title was “Big Bear” (an awesome title that I wish they would’ve kept) and this is their “Bohemian Rhapsody”. There aren’t many bands that could pull off a track like this one, and it really should seem kinda out of place, but for some reason it works. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” comparisons are obvious but this plays more like a Tim Burton nightmare mixed with Beetle Juice and a strong dose of sick humor thrown in for good measure. Love it. (Is it just me or is there even a little bit of Mr. Bungle thrown in the mix too?)
The album is nearly flawless in my mind and the production (done by the band) is perfect. (Truth be told, I think Rick Rubin would’ve have been the only other man for the job.) True enough, it will probably alienate a few fans who were expecting “Waking the Fallen 2″ or who’re still mad at Metallica for not recycling “Master Of Puppets” for the rest of their career, but it’s sure to gain them many more fans. In short, die hards will love it, as will open-minded people who are sick of the same-ole radio schtick. Also, it’s ALWAYS a good thing when you can listen to a whole album in one sitting and still be wanting more. 9/10