“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