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Avenged Sevenfold - Hail To The King (Album Review)

Friday, 23 August 2013 Written by Heather McDaid

Avenged Sevenfold have a knack for starting albums off with a twist, and ‘Hail To The King’ is no different. Packing a haunting, atmospheric opening, brooding verse and a sleek Synyster Gates solo - one that pushes him a bit further than might be expected - Shepherd Of Fire is a subtle introduction to the band’s new sound on a record that’s got plenty riding on it.

‘Hail To The King’ clearly holds a lot of meaning for the band. It’s their first album not to feature any input from Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan, who died in 2009, with Arin Ilejay bring a new, but fitting, style of drumming to the band, and also displays a new approach to their sound and lyrics. Gone are the easy hooks and riffs, replaced by something bigger, more cinematic.

The title track takes plenty of influences from their metal forefathers, with Sabbath and Maiden both receiving hat tips, and it really isn't anything like Beast and the Harlot mark II. The quick-fix catchiness is gone and it represents Avenged Sevenfold’s desire to build tracks differently, focusing on atmospherics and feeling big, without overdoing it.

Doing Time bridges the gap between their heavier past and new direction. It has a down and dirty groove to the riff, one that revels in flat out rock ‘n’ roll, while This Means War sees the return of the duelling guitars that seem to be on the back burner for this record.

Unfortunately, it then trudges through a big verse and simplistic chorus. The solo is another marker for the band's changing outlook. It’s not flashy for the sake of it, with some of the more stripped back lines proving most effective.

The second half of the album possesses even more restraint, and dials down the speed where Avenged Sevenfold would once have put their foot down. Requiem pushes through initial theatrics into a thudding tempo, and Crimson Day is a ballad that screams Sevenfold when you place it alongside their previous efforts.

Heretic’s slow, sweeping guitars maintain that link to their past, while Coming Home continues to bring their trademark catchiness, albeit in a very Maiden-heavy style. Acid Rain concludes this journey and is a future movie soundtrack if ever there was one. The melody of the piano, the sheer presence.  Let’s just say it's easy to fall into.

On first listen, it's easy to see many songs on ‘Hail To The King’ as derivative. Metallica, Maiden, Sabbath and Pantera all have a shared bloodline. The classic comparisons have never been so clear, but much like the tracks, Avenged Sevenfold's new direction works thanks to a gradual build up. 'Hail To The King' is a more mature album and the first step on an interesting new path.

Avenged Sevenfold UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Sat November 30th 2013 - MANCHESTER Manchester Arena
Sun December 1st 2013 - LONDON Wembley Arena
Tue December 3rd 2013 - DUBLIN The O2 Dublin
Thu December 5th 2013 - BIRMINGHAM LG Arena

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