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City of Evil

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  • 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!

    Posted on February 13, 2010