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Album Review: AVENGED SEVENFOLD’s ‘Hail To The King’

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Controversy has surrounded Avenged Sevenfold’s latest effort since the Internet first saw guitarist Synyster Gates with short hair.

Then came the chaos surrounding the album artwork, with many claiming that the cover had ripped off Lich King’s “World Gone Dead”.  Sevenfold later changed the album cover.

The single and title track, “Hail to the King” was released to mixed-to-positive reception, with many insisting that the new drummer Arin Ilejay’s work was too simplistic. But M. Shadows insisted that the straightforward drum parts were intentional, because the new record would sound like classic 80s hard rock and heavy metal.

Regardless, the metal world just had to see—rather, hear—how this new album would turn out. It was Sevenfold’s first album with a permanent drummer since Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan passed away in late 2009. Ex-Dream Theater powerhouse Mike Portnoy hit the skins on A7X’s previous work, “Nightmare,” which was a massive hit. How would they follow up?

“Shepherd of Fire” is a very powerful start to the album, possibly even better than the single and title track.  The album starts off with the sound of rain and Synyster Gates’ and Zacky Vengeance’s dual guitar leads and Johnny Christ’s rumbling bass. “Shepherd” is very old school and the Iron Maiden influences are very apparent. Singer M. Shadows was correct when he said the album would have a classic hard rock/metal feel combined with the band’s signature sound.

“Hail To the King,” the first single from this album, is next. Though it has Gates’ and Vengeance’s trademark guitar runs, it lacks the power of the first track. When the single was first released, many complained that the Arin Ilejay’s drum work was too simplistic compared to The Rev’s and Mike Portnoy’s (who played on “Nightmare”). Shadows contended that the straightforward drum parts were intentional and meant to make the record sound more 80s metal influenced. After hearing the first track, this makes more sense in the context of the entire album. The production is magnificently crisp. The song can be heard below.

 

“Doing Time” sounds like a mixture of Black Sabbath and Guns N’ Roses with a “Paranoid”-esque riff and Shadows’ spoken intro. The octave vocal harmonies, Shadows’ nasal delivery, and shrieks are very reminiscent of “Appetite For Destruction” Axl Rose. It is a decent song but lacks panache compared to the other two songs.

Slow, beautiful guitar harmonies open “This Means War”. It then evolves into a powerful mid-tempo anthem, like a combination of two earlier Sevenfold songs, “Welcome to the Family” and “Girl I Know”.  The Iron Maiden influence is also evident in this song, with soaring vocal melodies, cleaner singing, and dueling guitars.  The lyrics are pretty awesome: “There’s nothing here for free – Lost who I want to be / My serpent blood can strike so cold / On any given day – I’ll take it all away / Another thought I can’t control”.

“Requiem” opens with a choir singing Gregorian chant, possibly borrowing from Ghost B.C., who Sevenfold will be touring with later this year. A fragment of this song could be heard in one of the albums previews the band released a few months back. Epic strings compliment Synyster Gate’s leads, making the song sound like a more updated version of something off of Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman”.

The ballad “Crimson Day” opens with a clean intro, kind of reminding me of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”.  It is more powerful and poignant than Sevenfold’s best-known ballad, “Seize the Day,” and may even appeal to country audiences. It could be a crossover hit.

“Heretic” takes us back to signature Sevenfold-sounding territory. With rawer production, it would fit right at home on “City of Evil”.  This song showcases how much Shadows has progressed as a singer since then. The acoustic guitar interlude matching underneath the dual guitar riffs remind me of the middle section of Megadeth’s “Reckoning Day”, once again displaying Sevenfold’s 80s metal influences. Synsyter Gates cements his status as a guitar god with this track.

“Coming Home” also wears Iron Maiden influences on its sleeve while still retaining aspects of Sevenfold’s “City Of Evil”-era sound.  We also get to hear some more complex drumming, with Ilejay’s double bass footwork.

“Planets” starts with an interesting drum beat and horns and guitars dancing from the left to right headphones and back, another example of the all the thought that went into the production of this album. The result is an apocalyptic, dissonant, half-thrash-influenced, half-prog thing. It is definitely experimental, even by Sevenfold standards (“A Little Piece of Heaven,” anyone?), and may have to grow on the listener.

“Acid Rain” opens with a piano playing a minor progression of chords. Then dreamy strings kick in, and Synyster plays a very bluesy Slash-sounding solo before Shadows starts singing. It is beautifully melodramatic, almost cabaretish—like if Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” and Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” had a bastard child. Who knows if having a piano-based track close the album will be an ongoing trend for Sevenfold (“Fiction” closed their previous album, “Nightmare”).  If so, it is definitely something to look forward to. The album ends with one of its most memorable songs, but the listener is still left wanting more.

Is “Hail to the King” “City Of Evil 2”? No. It’s far more diverse than that and could seem a tad too overproduced at times.

Is it better than “Nightmare”? Yes and no, depending on your individual taste. It is more experimental, which could appeal to some and turn others off.

Is this album one of the best metal albums of 2013 so far? It is a possible contender, but we’ll have to wait and see.

FINAL VERDICT: 8.5/10

Track listing:

  1. Shepherd Of Fire
  2. Hail To The King
  3. Doing Time
  4. This Means War
  5. Requiem
  6. Crimson Day
  7. Heretic
  8. Coming Home
  9. Planets
  10. Acid Rain
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AVENGED SEVENFOLD Premieres New Single ‘Hail to the King’

Avenged Sevenfold has premiered the first single from their upcoming album, “Hail to the King,” which is released August 27.

This will be their first album with drummer Arin Ilejay, who toured with the band since 2011. It is also the first that does not have any musical contributions from the late Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan.


AVENGED SEVENFOLD Releases Preview of ‘Hail To The King’

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Avenged Sevenfold has released a 30-second preview of the title track from their upcoming album, “Hail To The King”. The album is due in stores August 27.

Previously released samples of new Avenged Sevenfold songs can be heard below.

There has also been controversy surrounding the album artwork, drawing comparisons to Lich King’s “World Gone Dead”.

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Thoughts?


This Week in Metal: Moshing, Lemmy, Megadeth, and More

These past several days have been interesting ones in the metal community.

In perhaps one of the biggest recent controversies, rumors spread that moshing would be outlawed. This tweet by Oliver Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon fueled the speculation.

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Moshing was made illegal in the city of Boston in 2012, and to the best knowledge of TBOS, there hasn’t been any more recent legislation put into action. Kevin Lyman, the promoter of Warped Tour, where BMTH are performing, assured his Twitter followers that moshing has not been outlawed on the tour, but bands are not allowed to encourage it due to possible legal problems.

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Motörhead was forced to cancel three shows after singer/bassist Lemmy Kilmister suffered a hematoma. But the band released a statement proclaiming that their frontman was doing well. Motörhead will release their latest album, Aftershock, in September.

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Tickets for Iron Maiden’s upcoming London show sold out in a mere 12 minutes. The band have since added a second show. It will be their last show in the UK before they tour the States and headline Rock In Rio and other shows in South America. The band also launched an online store for their Trooper beer this week.

Megadeth 2013

Megadeth announced they will donate the proceeds from their upcoming Gigantour show in Oklahoma City will be donated to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. According to Loudwire, singer Dave Mustaine said, “Many amazing bands have come forward to aid Oklahomans since the May tornadoes came and tore apart their homes and lives. Now it’s time for Heavy Metal to give to this community!”

A 6-year-old girl wowed audiences on “America’s Got Talent” by singing an original death metal song called “Zombie Skin”. Surprisingly, the kid band (called Murp) progressed to the next level of the show.

Another metal-related video went viral this week. The Badpiper, an Australian street performer, made headlines by performing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” complete with pyrotechnics.

In other news:

  • Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival (a.k.a Mayhem Fest) kicked off Saturday night in San Bernardino, Calif.
  • Andrew WK will be opening for Black Sabbath on their upcoming North American tour.
  • Avenged Sevenfold announced that their next album, “Hail to the King” will be released August 27.
  • Germany’s Wacken Open Air Festival will be the subject of a 3D documentary.
  • Full Metal Jackie now has her own iHeartRadio station.

Thus concludes TBOS’s “This Week in Metal”.


HANDS OF A TRAITOR “Paper Prisons” Video Released

Last time TBOS talked to Hands of a Traitor, they were in the process of planning their newest music video for their single, “Paper Prisons”. The new video can be seen below.

They will be competing in the Battle for Mayhem Thursday, May 23 at Rocky Point Cantina in Tempe, Ariz.


Hands of a Traitor: High School Metal Heroes

Hands of a Traitor. From left to right: Jacob Ricker (vocals), Kieran Lynch (guitar), Emile Trudeau (bass), Darin Senyk (guitar). Photo by Alec Damiano.

Hands of a Traitor. From left to right: Jacob Ricker (vocals), Kieran Lynch (guitar), Emile Trudeau (bass), Darin Senyk (guitar). Photo by Alec Damiano.

Hands of a Traitor have opened up for legends like Doro Pesch. While many metal bands have to wait until they’re adults in order to accomplish such a feat, HOAT is comprised entirely of high school sophomores.

TBOS got to sit in with the band as they worked with local filmmaker, Gil Tabasa, who will be directing the music video for their single, “Paper Prisons”.

HOAT reflect on how they got their start playing music, why they have become successful, and their upcoming concept series.

You can hear the interview below!


DORO, SISTER SIN and More Live in Tempe, Ariz.

Last month, TBOS had the honor of interviewing the Metal Queen, Doro Pesch. The interview was transcribed in four parts, and the audio was featured on Blabbermouth.net.

Doro Pesch onstage. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Doro Pesch onstage. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Saturday, we had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Doro do what she does best–making people headbang till their necks turn sore!

Tempe’s Rocky Point Cantina held an epic mini metal-fest Saturday night, with a total of six bands performing.

Local Phoenix bands Unconscious Minds, Hands of a Traitor, Epyon and NightSphere primed the audience for Sister Sin and DORO.

First up were classic/thrash metal outfit, Unconscious Minds. They made Pantera fans proud with their soaring vocals and melodic bass lines.

Vocalist Manny Lopez of Unconscious Minds. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Vocalist Manny Lopez of Unconscious Minds. Photo by Alec Damiano.

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Unconscious Minds were the first act of the night and played a thrashing set. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Next were metalcore group Hands of a Traitor. They were definitely the youngest out of all the local bands, and they had a dedicated fanbase moshing in the audience. If you’re into newer metal like Asking Alexandria, this band is for you.

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Hands of a Traitor tear it up as their fans moshed in the background. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Epyon played an impressive instrumental set that reminded concertgoers of classic Metallica (think “Orion”) and Death Angel. They also announced that they had found a singer, though the band performed as an instrumental quartet.

Members from Epyon played an instrumental classic metal set. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Members from Epyon played an instrumental classic metal set. Photo by Alec Damiano.

The last local band to perform was power metal act NightSphere. They made an impressive stage entrance with dimmed lights and fog floating through the air.

Power metal outfit NightSphere. Pictured are singer CJ McConnell and guitarist Elsthon Gomez. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Power metal outfit NightSphere. Pictured are singer CJ McConnell and guitarist Elsthon Gomez. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Next were Swedish glam metallers Sister Sin. They played a nine-song setlist, which included tracks from all their albums. Four of the songs were from their latest record, “Now and Forever”. Liv Jagrell interacted energetically with the crowd, actually stepping off the stage to greet fans at one point. The audience was left clamoring for more after they finished.

Liv Jagrell, the amazing frontwoman from Sister Sin.

Liv Jagrell, the energetic frontwoman from Sister Sin. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Finally, at 11:20 p.m., headliners DORO took the stage. They played 20 songs, about half of which were from Pesch’s previous band, Warlock. Highlights from the set were “Hero,” which was written as a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio, a cover of Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law”, and the Warlock anthem “All We Are,” where the members from Sister Sin returned to the stage to sing along and engage with the crowd.

Doro Pesch

Doro Pesch, DORO’s frontwoman and namesake, interacts energetically with the clamoring crowd. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Saturday night was an unforgettable night for Tempe metalheads. The headliners more than delivered and great local talent was also showcased.

Sister Sin joined DORO onstage for a memorable rendition of "All We Are". Photo by Alec Damiano.

Sister Sin joined DORO onstage for a memorable rendition of “All We Are”. Photo by Alec Damiano.