Much has been written about Avenged Sevenfold over the years, sadly it seems more has been made of the personal side of who the band is than their musical ability, which should never really be in question.
Avenged Sevenfold have proven themselves over the course of five albums to be a formidable force when they put their minds to it, especially on their last album, written with their now ‘classic’ line up, in the form of 2010’s “Nightmare”. The metal world has waited with baited breath over the last three years to see how they would regroup and return following the untimely death of drummer The Rev. Well, the wait is finally over and the band has unleashed their latest opus “Hail to the King” will this be the album that finally pushes Avenged Sevenfold over the top, or will it be a disappointing follow up to “Nightmare”?
Well, that is a matter of perception and opinion, as this isn’t an Avenged Sevenfold album, so its hard to criticise it as one. Much was made in the press during the writing of this album by the band, stating that they were writing a classic album, with a classic sound that would stand toe to toe with some of the greatest bands from the past. What they really meant in translation was that they were going to take a selection of riffs and ideas from their favourite bands and weave them into a patchwork quilt of plagiarism. I can practically see the fanboys lighting their pitchforks from here…
OK, lets break it down shall we? ‘Doing Time’ is a Guns N’ Roses song if ever there was one, right down to the Axl Rose in the 90’s vocals that M. Shadows is doing. Yes, it’s a good song, but it’s a song that is clearly more imitation than anything else. ‘This Means War’ is a 00’s reworking of Metallica hit ‘Sad But True’, literally beat for beat but with some extra guitar noodling to cover up the stolen riff. Then there is ‘Requiem,’ which borrows an intro from Ghost‘s bag of tricks, like literally lifts it from ‘Opus Eponymous’ and runs off into the night! The final piece of the patchwork puzzle, ‘Coming Home’ which lifts the opening wholesale from ‘The Clairvoyant’ by Iron Maiden. I mean that bassline is unmistakable, did they really think they could lift it and nobody would notice?
That’s four songs on an album of ten that lifts directly, and to a degree indirectly, from other artists. Not the best statement to make on your make or break album, when nearly 50 percent of it sounds like other, much better artists. It isn’t all doom and gloom though. Whilst the lead single ‘Hail to the King’ is largely built around a riff with some uninspired vocal work, the album’s opening track ‘Shepherd of Fire’ is actually pretty badass. As is ‘Heretic,’ which shows just how much Avenged Sevenfold can do when they want to.
“Hail to the King” is not the album many fans of Avenged Sevenfold will be expecting and it will be interesting to see how many people react to this. As a musicians album, “Hail to the King” ticks all the right boxes. However, M.Shadows seems a bit lost in the shuffle, with his lyrics not having the same impact they usually do, whilst falling mainly into overly metal cliché territory.
For the most part it seems as though Avenged Sevenfold have played it safe and that their heart really isn’t into the music they are presenting here, which is a real shame as on “Nightmare” it seemed the band really turned a corner. Whereas on “Hail to the King” they seem to have backed themselves into one. Hail to the King? More like Watch the Throne sadly, here’s hoping that they still have something left in the tank for album number seven…