September , 2013
Review by Mike DiQuinzio
"Hail To The King"
Warner Bros. Records
The wait is over as Avenge Sevenfold is back with new album, "Hail To The King" on Warner Bros. records. The turbulent rise of Avenged Sevenfold over the last few years has been bittersweet, to say the least. For one thing, they had to change their entire approach to music in the early 2000s after their lead singer's throat operation cost him his ability to scream. Such a stylistic shift would have derailed most bands, but it marked a major turning point for A7X. They would see their popularity rise dramatically on the strength of the subsequent City of Evil album, but the fans would regard it as the band's Black Album; the album that separated the old- from the new-school.
Avenged Sevenfold then suffered the loss of a key member when Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan died suddenly in 2009. Down but not out, A7X enlisted Mike Portnoy to fill in on drums and came back in black with Nightmare. Throughout Nightmare, the band impressively kept their eye on the prize while giving their fallen brother the best tribute they could with an album so heavy and dark they could have named it Precious. With their reputation as one of the most promising young metal bands now cemented, the stage was set for A7X to deliver the next crushing blow of their career. Unfortunately for us, Hail To The King is anything but crushing.
From the onset, something is noticeably different about this album compared to their past efforts. There's a sense of complacency that weighs down almost every song on here, making them- dare I say it- boring. Avenged Sevenfold's fire seems to be gone on Hail To The King, with what seem like phoned-in performances all but killing what should have been a major milestone in their career. Only two songs - "Coming Home" and "Planets" - show any kind of hint that A7X still remember who their influences are. "Coming Home" oozes Iron Maiden from beginning to end and "Planets" just flat out rocks, but these are track numbers 8 and 9 of ten, respectively, so you won't hear them at all if you stop listening by track 7. I almost did, so you're excused.
By the time you're finished reading this, Hail To The King will have sold millions of copies and their supporting tour will have sold out everywhere, meaning their status is such that they can do whatever they want to and no one will care. At last, Avenged Sevenfold's plan to be the next Metallica is complete. It's just oo bad they reached their Load-era so quickly.