Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King (Warner Bros.)
CD / Deluxe CD / 2xLP / DL
Out 26th August 2013
Hail to the King is A7X’s first album featuring their new drummer & not featuring any contributions from the sadly departed Sullivan. So how good an album is it? Read on to find out.
Avenged Sevenfold are a band who have grown in stature and confidence in the face of adversity. When Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan died in 2009, the band were at a crossroads. A founding band member and integral contributor to the band, The Rev left a huge hole to fill. On their previous effort, ‘Nightmare,’ A7X employed the services of now ex-Dream Theater sticksman, Mike Portnoy. He subsequently toured with the band, but Avenged Sevenfold, understandably, wanted a full time member in the ranks. Step forward, Arin Ilejay.
Hail to the King is Avenged Sevenfold’s 6th full length player. Bells and brass start up the album. The opener builds with the opening riff underpinning the track. From the off, ‘Shepherd of Fire’ sounds more polished and grand. It takes less than two and a half minutes for Synyster Gates to show his chops on the guitar. When listening to the opening track, it’s hard not to think it sounds like ‘Enter Sandman.’ There are several more tracks on ‘Hail to the King’ that are in the same vein with their more classic rock / metal feel. The lead single and title track is an instance of this. It has a similar pace to Shepherd of Fire and again proves to be a solid piece of song writing. The opening salvo obviously shows that the band want to display a more epic sound. The sing along chorus, is built for the bands loyal army of fans.
‘Doing Time’ feels more like the Avenged of old. Shadows opens with a fiendish laugh before a guttural scream gives way to a faster paced riff than the opening duo of songs. The short and sweet track has a classic Guns’n’Roses feel throughout, but still has the A7X stamp. Chiming, duelling guitars and marching drums open up ‘This Means War.’ Again, it’s hard not to compare the album to metal’s behemoths; Metallica and Iron Maiden. This is a track that James Hetfield would have revelled in circa ’97. It is here that Synyster Gates ramps up the quality in his soloing. A suitably wailing contribution helps swell the traditional sound at work here. Another tribal sounding chorus will no doubt ensure that ‘This Means War’ will be on the set list when the band tours.
The balladeering side of Avenged Sevendfold is evident on ‘Crimson Day.’ A mournful opening, with a deeper lyrical approach makes for more epic sounding songwriting. The track is flanked by a string section to help tug on the heartstrings. The guitars sound great on this track. The delivery of the solo’s here is sorrowful and has more feeling and emotion. The bass heavy opening of ‘Heretic’ makes way for an enjoyable five minute romp. The same bass returns throughout the track to hold the track together with more solid drumming that finds the double kick drum being experimented with for the first time on the album. An acoustic guitar also adds an extra layer to the sound before another barnstorming solo helps lead the track to its conclusion.
More traditional tendencies emblazon the opening of ‘Coming Home.’ Shadows unique style is the main focus here before a Powerslave era Maiden riff drives the track through. The vocal here sounds the strongest of the tracks on Hail to the King, and the solo sounds the most natural within the song, rather than a possible necessity. At just over six minutes, the track never loses your attention.
Closing tracks ‘Planets’ and ‘Acid Rain’ help top the album off. On Planets, the vocals sound more sinister than any other track on the album, and display a little variation and versatility from Shadows. The double kick drum is again employed during the chorus and the track, although of the same tempo as a lot of the work here, has a little something else about it which makes it more exciting. The melodies sound a little colder and edgy. There are elements of brass introduced, akin to the intro, to give the track a more unique sound. ‘Acid Rain’ begins with a melancholy piano introduction before another suitably lamenting solo. The piano led track again shows the balladry of the band. The strings again help build the epic nature of the track to its conclusion.
‘Hail to the King’ is certainly a solid album. It is more of a departure for the band, which is no bad thing when you think about the loss the band has experienced. I feel that the band have lost a little of their edge on this record, but it is still a very good record. It will shift by the bucket load and will certainly win over a new set of fans to help swell the ranks of the Avenged Sevenfold clan.