OKAY, lemme just say that i am a huge avenged sevenfold fan. I have been since the early days, not just since city of evil came out. I sat idly by and watched the reviews pour in for city of evil, some good, some bad. But when the “metal expert” a couple of reviews below me dared to call A7X nu metal….i had to step in and say something. HOW CAN YOU CALL THEM NU METAL?!?!?!?!?! DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT NU METAL IS?!?!?! NU METAL is bland riffs that take no major talent!!!!! Then you say tht the guitars r weak and there could be more solos!!!! Their are tons of solos!!!! Then you contradict yourself by saying tht the guitars are great!!! THT DOESN”T EVEN MAKE ANY SENSE!!!!! You must have bad short term memory because apparently you forget what you write a couple of seconds before! And to complain about the vocals…..i guess i understand tht because most close minded metal heads tht only like screaming and bland clear vocals wouldnt like M. Shadows Axl Rose type of howl. BUT HEAR THIS: i love the screaming vocals of all the other current bands. I love lamb of god, himsa, agony scene, the absence, old inflames, arch enemy, god forbid, kalmah, all those good melodic death or american heavy metal bands, so anybody tht reads this dont say im some hapless mainstream wannabe. I EVEN LISTEN TO MATH METAL LIKE DILLENGER ESCAPE PLAN!!!! So yeah, the metal expert is a complete idiot and nobody, and i mean nobody should read his idiotic review. AND AVENGED SEVENFOLD ARE NOT NUMETAL!!!! and they didnt sell out either, because the definition of selling out is leaving your current style and going with wut is popular and deemed cool. Last time i checked, writing mostly 7 minute songs and having solos is not really apparent in the current mainstream!!!!! So anybody tht says they sold out can just shutup!!!!! GO LISTEN TO YOUR ATREYU AND NEVER SPEAK OR TYPE AGAIN!!!!!!
Shattering preconceptions of punk and metal, Avenged Sevenfold blazes a bold new path with its debut major label album, City of Evil. Fusing punk with melody, metal intensity with an adventurous spirit, the drama and darkness of A7X moves effortlessly from his powerful vocal punch to thick cascading melodies, from loud and fast to epic. Influenced by everyone from Pantera, Metallica and Iron Maiden to Bad Religion, Misfits, Guns ’N Roses, prog-metal and experimental rock, Avenged Sevenfold seeks its own musical vengeance with City of Evil.
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When I first looked at Avenged Sevenfold’s look and read their stage names, I laughed my head off. Long an indie favorite and now making a breakthrough on a major label, I mistakingly categorized Avenged Sevenfold with the current crop of metal pretenders like Atreyu, Trivium, etc. Then I decided to give these guys a listen, and once you get past their schtick, you’ll discover that there is some great hard rock/metal here. Lead single “Bat Country” (supposedly inspired by the late Hunter S. Thompson’s tripped out Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) isn’t anything real special, but opening track “Beast and the Harlot” isn’t only catchy and melodic, but it has possibly one of the most well played and catchy bridges and harmonies in recent memory. Other tracks, including “Trashed & Scattered” and “Seize the Day”, display some great duel guitar wizardry, which is refreshing in the mainstream metal scene considering the last few years were nothing but hip-hop beats and downtuned guitars. “City of Evil” isn’t perfect, and a majority of it is too mainstream aimed for hardcore fans of old metal like Pantera, Slayer, Morbid Angel, etc., but it’s a welcome surprise in the metal world today. All in all, if you’ve never checked out Avenged Sevenfold, give “City of Evil” a try.
Once you succeed in a certain area/genre, the next logical step is taking things to the next level. How many times have we seen a band do the same thing over and over (because they make a CD in which the formula they use sells CD’s and sets them aside from the rest of the crowd) but ends up burning out from overuse of their own formula? The type of band i’ve mentioned is common in our day and age and the ones that survive are the ones that are able to evolve and create their own unique formula which encourages evolution. A7X is one of those bands. Shame on the person that says they’ve sold out while proclaiming they’ve been a true fan since the beginning (their beginning is “unholy confessions”)–while i’m not trying to take away their merit and their best intentions, nor am I denying the fact that you’re a true fan, you honestly don’t have the right, nor the competance, to say that they’ve sold out, that they’ve let their true fans down. I’m one of those fans that will buy loads of this CD to give out to people on the streets since I know that the intelligence and competance shown by A7X will be enough to reel them in and bring forth a new breed of fans–the thinking kind; the kind that appreciates and knows music, etc. You will be of no loss to the group if you keep a negative attitude to a band you all swear to love. Having the band members talk about this album and mention that this album has them feeling the happiest with the end result compared to the other albums shows that this CD is intended to set them aside from a certain genre/style and have succeeded in creating an album which will go down in history has being “one of the best in ‘genre’”, without a doubt! Now, thank you for sticking with me this long so i’ll write a review for each song. Being a music educator and being formally trained in music theory, this album was, literally, music to the ears.
1)The Beast and the Harlot–I read in an interview when WTF came out that the band members weren’t necessarily religious but that they knew the bible and they each, naturally, had their own interpretations of what the books meant. As is the case with the CD titles and some song titles, they stick to those religious allusions with extreme accuracy. As it turns out, most are dealing with the book of revelations (the first LP being title “sounding the seventh trumpet” as pertaining to Revelations, some lyrics and song titles on WTF “with this ink on our flesh we’ve sealed our fate” on Reminissions which talks about the mark of the best and conflict between believing and not believing in a god up to this song, The Beast and the Harlot, also pertaining to the book of revelations. The lyrics are, IMO, a metaphor for events taking place in our world today and the way they’ve written it, we’re able to relate to it. The chords at the beginning were a surprise since most of their songs were in minor keys using alot of Flats but this one was written in major keys with alot of sharps. Synyster and Zacky are on once again, The Rev is exposed in this song especially during the chorus, Johnny has some nice licks and Shadows vocals sound really good. Nice solid song to start the CD off. 9/10
2.Burn It Down–The CD starts off intense with some solid drums and riffs and then explodes into a guitar harmonization which is catchy as well as familiar. I won’t get into the song lyrics much as they’re all up for interpretation but will rather focus on the song as a whole taking into consideration what I take the lyrics to mean. This song follows the formula used on WTF and they use it to their advantage. The 2nd half of the song totally caught me off guard and was quite impressed with the musicianship and knowledge of the band members. IMO, it’s classic A7X and is one of the best songs on the first half of the CD. 9/10
3. Blinded In Chains–WOW, DRUMS! This song has really nice drum sections especially the little herta bassdrum break at around 2:52. Power guitars on this track but aside from the drums, the vocals sound a tad bit the same as #2 and #4 so i’m not that big a fan of this track but for what it’s worth, the drums and strings definately earn this track a 7/10.
4. Bat Country–The first single to be released from the CD. This is the “unholy confessions” (Except better) and is influenced from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The song starts off with the quote “he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pains of being a man” and they follow along with that theme throughout the song. There’s a harmony guitar break (2:52) after the guitar solo and once again, it’s one of the standouts on this CD. Synyster and Zacky get a chance to shine on this CD with the solos being tasteful and just right. It’s a decent choice for first single since it shows the evolved A7X moreso than other tracks while still maintaining the ability to bring in fans via this new sound (as previously mentioned)…8.5/10
5.Trashed and Scattered–The first song that is heavily influenced by spanish-style chords and it does a good job of setting up the 2nd half of the CD. There’s some velvet revolver influence in the bassline in the section before the chorus. Most of the verses are extremely familiar and anyone with an educated music ear will find these progressions to be complicated. The guitars shine like always and the drums are tasteful. The V.R bass influence adds a nice touch to the song. My favorite song on the first half of the CD.
6. Seize The Day–The 2nd half of the CD is started by Seize The Day and it does an AMAZING job of setting up the tone for the rest of the CD. This song uses Piano, Acoustic Guitar and then the rest of the ensemble joining in. This song is structured into 3 different progressions: 0:00-0:13 (the first one which is also the chorus), the 2nd is 0:14-0:38 which are the progressions for the verses and the last is from 0:39-1:05 which is the pre-chorus progressions. They’re very distinct with subtle similarities that will definately be appreciated. The musicianship is shown once again in all the performers. This song is the Warmness of the Soul from STST, the I Won’t See You Tonight from WTF and will go down as one of the greatest A7X songs ever. 10/10
7. Sidewinder–WOW!!! This song is the beginning of the Epic tracks on this album. The first track to take after the spanish influenced that was previously mentioned in Trashed & Scattered but this time, they use full on Spanish guitars and ends with a gorgeous spanish guitar solo. This song seems to have some, shall I say it, Rufio inluence at around 3:00 when he sings “making my way through the night, you’re still in my sights”–to me, that’s signature Rufio style in the way they play the guitars, the way the rhythm is shown in the drum beat. This song is one of the best songs on the CD…emotion is there but isn’t as powerful as The Wicked End or MIA. This song is 10/10 and earns every single bit of it.
8. The Wicked End–my 2nd Favorite song on the entire CD. The song is once again influenced by the book of revelations. While reminissions felt like a battle between believing and not believing, this song is definately on the believing side and it’s humbling. While the song is positive for the faithful, there’s a very serious underlying message of armaggedon and our final days on earth. The 2nd half of this track is started off by a Danny Elfman-inluenced (you’ll be reminded of nightmare before christmas, edward scissorhands, beetlejuice) orchestration which features a full set of strings and choir but the best part of the song is when Shadows starts singing right after the orchestra part. That minute or 2 of him singing is the most emotional and intense part of ANY song i have EVER heard. You can tell feel the emotion in his voice, you can feel what he’s thinking. It ends with him singing up a few augmentations and is just wailing into the mic. You will get goosebumps for days everytime you hear this song. That section goes like this:
“As the prophets shed their light on what’s to come, the crowds did gather. Your time is precious they explained, no time to worry, messiahs coming. Don’t go to sleep tonight, darling, hold me in your arms. These will be our final days and I can’t let go.”
It doesn’t get any better than this, my friends. 20/10
9. Strength of The World–What I like most about this song is the acoustic guitar and Violin accompaniement in the intro. It’s completely gorgeous and was all written by A7X. The progressions in the chorus are once again familiar and will be pleasing to your ears. The instrumentation of this song is at the same level as MIA, Sidewinder and The Wicked End but the vocals aren’t. I personally feel there isn’t much substance to this song, in comparison to the other songs, but is still a good song. The strings and the drums seem to lose steam after the intro and there is a rather random section beginning at 5:27 and honestly, that kinda kills the track for me. For this one…7/10
10. Betrayed–Outta respect to Dimebag, this song should be given a 10/10 but I can’t connect with this song at all. I feel disattached and I can’t relate to the song at all. The vocals are decent, at best, but it seems like they did the song just to do it…that respect is understandable and naturally, they’re not going to write something that’s going to “suck” but my personal opinion with respects to this song is that of indifference…6/10 for song, 10/10 out of respect.
11. MIA–My favorite song on the CD. Words can’t describe what this song means to me. It’s a song of personal conflict and deals with what you need to do for yourself, for God and for country. Has extremely powerful message of war in which we all can relate to in some way or another and the emotion in his voice brings you in by the neck and keeps you close by. This song doesn’t let up its intensity and there’s a resolution on this song that, along with the after-orchestra part on The Wicked End, is worth the price of the CD alone. This song will go down as one of the best songs of all time if we give it a chance to get there. 20/10
I want to thank you for sticking through this review and reading it all the way through. It took me a while to write out and I put alot of thought into it. I respectfully disagree with those that call this CD another AFI Sing The Sorrow influenced piece of work. In reality, this CD follows the tracks of such metalcore greats from the UK such as DragonForce, Sonata Arctica and bands like Stratovarius. The 80’s metal influence is there also and the guys in those bands are proud of the evolution; the uniqueness of bands like A7X and CD’s like this one. Do yourself a favor and listen to City of Evil, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet and Waking the Fallen (in that order) and then have an opinion based on what you hear and have the will power to dismiss any negative opinion that you’ve read here. I’m in no way affiliated with the group nor do I look like all these hardcore “fans” that dress a certain way to like a certain type of music. But when Shadows says he’d LOVE to open for a group like HIM (Finland) and are heavily influenced by UK Metalcore groups, that says alot about our current state of musical talent, music and management here in the USA. You won’t see many bands like A7X here in the USA so please take into consideration the effort i’ve taken in writing this and take my comments to heart. Thank you once again for reading!
“City of Evil” was my first introduction to Avenged Sevenfold. The CD looked interesting enough so I picked it up without hearing a single song. My first impression was that I liked it. I didn’t love it, but there was something about this band that was intriguing me. I decided to pick up the earlier releases and was shocked to find such a different sound on them. At first, I liked those a lot more than this album, but the more and more I listened to “City of Evil,” the more and more I fell in love with it.
Having a completely different singing style sound, having more melodic riffs to accompany stronger song craft while still keeping that heavy edge that they’re known for, Avenged Sevenfold gets rid of their emo look and feel and strive to come up with something better, something stronger. I believe they accomplished that. The songs on this album are like short stories. Instead of the “life is horrible” or “kill me now” vibe that you would’ve expected from them on their earlier releases, they have written stronger songs with different meanings. “Strength of the World” is constructed like something you’d expect from an old Western–a man coming home to find his family murdered, and swearing revenge on the killers responsible. “M.I.A.” appears to be very much influenced by the ongoing war we’re dealing with, as it tells the story of a soldier coping with his feelings after everything is all said and done.
And other songs… well, they’re just amazing to listen to. “Bat Country” is a tribute to the late Hunter S. Thompson, and “Betrayed” is dedicated to the murdered Dimebag Darrell. All of the songs have haunting lyrics and lines that stay in your head long after the song is done. The guitars sound fantastic and the drumming even sounds improved over the other releases.
People who loved the old Avenged Sevenfold may be put off by the lead singer’s new approach. He doesn’t have that “death-metal” like scream that can be found on the other releases. This may put off some people, but I have to say I like the new style. It fits the content of the songs, giving them more life and depth than it would if he were just screaming non-stop.
The entire album is great from start to finish. It’s hard to listen to it out of order, so rarely do I do that. I start on the first track and play it all the way through. My most favorites, however, are “burn it down,” “bat country,” “trashed and scattered,” “the wicked end” and “strength of the world.” Again, all are great but those are my favorites. I especially love the lyrics in “the wicked end.” There’s a part of it towards the end where it sounds like something Danny Elfman would have composed.
“City of Evil” is a complete success in my eyes. It’s not one that you can listen to just once and then give out your verdict. Let it consume you. Play it again and again. Get lost in the songs, the lyrics and the melody. It won’t be a winner to all but if you’re looking for something different, I highly recommend it. Try to act like you’re not going to have a line or two stick in your head after the CD is done playing -Michael Crane
This is the disk that could push Nu Metal into the drainage vortex and bring guitar rock back to the forefront of hard rock with a “Vengeance”. In fact, City of Evil may have the best Heavy Metal song on it that I’ve heard in years with Bat Country.
If you’ve been an A7X fan or you are at least familiar with their past work like their last disk Waking the Fallen, prepare yourselves for a somewhat new sound. Out is song after song of the angry shouting so typical in speed/death metal, and in is City of Evil with a disk of singing by M. Shadows that is a metalhead’s dream….Clear with great vocal harmonies.
The music is hard. Spectacular drumming by TheRev that seems to be preformed effortlessly but precisely. Head banging guitar solos and driving bass, put together with vocal melodies that move away from the death/speed metal sound of A7X’s past efforts to a sound that I can listen to with my wife in the car…well…almost.
The songs are epic (all well over 5 minutes each), complex but very tight. A fair analogy might be early Bruce Dickenson Iron Maiden meets Guns n Roses meets A7X’s own style of unique speed metal.
The jewel of this disk is track 4…the radio played Bat Country. But there are several standout tracks here. I think that there were only 3 tracks that I said that I probably wouldn’t rip to my library. Pantera fans will want to give track 10 (Betrayed) a listen; I think that it’s kind of the story of the last days of the late, great Dimebag Darrell (see my review of Damageplan’s New Found Power). Tracks 7,8 & 9 also shine.
City of Evil brings a refreshing, somewhat newish sound to Metal fans, and it is most definitely worth having in your collection if you’re into the genre. Give it a try.
Edit 12/27/2009 – RIP James “The Rev” Sullivan. Rock the Heavens with Dimebag and Davey Williams!