So after recommendations from my favorite bassist in the world, my brother Gary Champagne, and my new Facebook buddy, David Henzerling, bassist of Icon and guitarist for King Kobra (yes, you read that correctly – I’m Facebook friends with David Henzerling and you’re not!) I decided to stream the new Avenged Sevenfold album, entitled “Hail to the King,” because I have heard it is very similar stylistically to a 1980’s metal album in the manner of Judas Priest, Metallica, and some elements of Iron Maiden. Now, let me preface this by saying I don’t consider myself a fan of this band and I am not particularly pleased with them because I felt like they stole Overkill’s trademark symbol with the winged skull. But, I’m old and you’re not, so perhaps you disagree.
And the verdict…yes…and no! Overall, I do like the album. It is definitely an evolution in the band’s sound. The band has moved from more of a metalcore sound with harsh vocals to more of a classic metal sound with less breakdowns and more clean vocals. It is definitely more of my style, and like Gary and David, though younger than they are, I am more of a fan of the older style of metal. I think long time fans of the band are going to claim the band has “sold out” because the sound is definitely lighter than previous efforts. I disagree though. I find the album will likely reach a broader audience which will mean more record sales and larger show attendance. For that, I can’t really fault any musical act. Those are needed to stay relevant. For those who disagree and think that making money in the music business is easy, then please share with me a link to your new album.
There are some gems here. I do really like “Shepherd of Fire,” “Hail to the King,” and “Coming Home,” the best song in my opinion. “Heretic” is also a choice cut. The album is solid and like all Avenged Sevenfold songs I have heard, the guitar playing is sensational. I wouldn’t expect anything less because I believe one, if not both, of the guitarists is classically trained. And as usual, M. Shadows voice is very distinct and in command on all the tunes. There are plenty of rocking guitar solos, which does lead to the 1980’s comparison, when metal shredders ruled the landscape.
As far as the comparisons, there are definitely elements of the “1980’s sound” but I wouldn’t point to any one band for a comparable sound. “This Means War” has a similar vibe to “Sad But True” by Metallica but by no means is a copy. There are some elements of riff similarity to Dave Murray and Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden in the intro to “Coming Home.” The elements of Metallica I hear are more similar to their efforts of the 1990’s (Bleh!) and not the classic sound of the 1980’s. Avenged has always struck me as more of a theatrical styled band with a lot of focus on sound inserts such as bells, chimes, and spoken word parts. Even though they aren’t a Power Metal band, they have always given me an Iced Earth feel, with respect to that.
Overall, I feel the offering is a good one and would recommend it to those who enjoy hard rock and metal.