Friday, 8 May 2009

CD Review: Avenged Sevenfold, by Avenged Sevenfold (2007)


This is probably the heavy metal album with the highest ever WTF factor. There is so much going on here, and so many attempts at mind-boggling genre bending and wing spreading, that only one word can best describe the outcome: circus! In this corner -- a child singing the ending of Unbound! And in the middle of the arena, a woman singing along to A Little Piece of Heaven! And may I point your attention to the eastern twinge at the start of Brompton Cocktail! And check out the distorted vocals on Lost! Where did the kitchen sink land?! It was thrown in here somewhere!

Which is not to say that Avenged Sevenfold is all bad. CD opener Critical Acclaim is a brilliant piece of sophisticated heavy metal that would have fit nicely into the excellent City of Evil (2005). Gunslinger successfully creates a western mood, and Dear God is a ballad that carries surprising power and ends with a great solo.

And then we have A Little Bit of Heaven, a song that just nails the circus theme, and is certainly both interesting and compelling. It is not totally successful, but perhaps comes closest to achieving the manic feel of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody than any other metal song.

There are no poor songs on the CD. The majority are solidly original without being memorable. And that perhaps is the biggest failing of the CD -- there is no faulting the innovation, but for all the effort, the end result appears to be a cul-de-sac mostly filled with relatively boring tunes.

Overall, the band is clearly distancing themselves from a purely metal sound while maintaining a guitar-based edge to most of their music. Whether or not they are seeking massive mainstream success, the CD's legacy falls in no man's land where it's probably too crunchy for the masses and way too timid for serious metal fans.

Those who like to look for clues of aspirations to match other achievements will have a field-day with Avenged Sevenfold. The all-white cover and self-title strongly evoke Metallica's black album. The over-produced songs complete with orchestra (horns! strings! choir!), and M.Shadows' singing style all echo Guns 'n' Roses Use Your Illusion.

Avenged Sevenfold is nothing if not interesting, and credit to the band for being brave and experimental. But for the most part, the effort invested -- both in creating and listening - is not terribly well rewarded.

Band:

M. Shadows: Vocals
Synyster Gates: Lead Guitar
Zacky Vengeance: Guitar
Johnny Christ: Bass
The Rev: Drums

Songlist (Ratings out of 10):

1. Critical Acclaim - 10
2. Almost Easy - 7
3. Scream -7
4. Afterlife - 7
5. Gunslinger - 8
6. Unbound (The Wild Ride) - 7
7. Brompton Cocktail - 7
8. Lost - 7
9. A Little Piece Of Heaven - 8
10. Dear God - 8

Average: 7.60

Produced by Avenged Sevenfold. Mixed by Andy Wallace.
Engineered by Fred Archambault and Dave Schiffman.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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