Album Review

Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King

Released August 23, 2013

Lisa Sanchez
Avenged Sevenfold's new album Hail to the King sounds like a hair-metal cover band wrote a concept album about "Game of Thrones". It's the equivalent of hard-rock ghost poop. You know it's there, you can even feel it, hear it...smell it? But, upon further investigation you discover there is nothing of substance there at all. Avenged Sevenfold has crafted Hail to the King to have a resonating sound and presentation, unfortunately, their predecessors beat them to the punch about twenty years earlier.

Let's not be naive here, bands influence bands. Rock music would not exist without blues, The Beatles inspired Nirvana, and Metallica gained direction from Black Sabbath. However, there is a difference between admiring the musicianship of previous artists and straight up mimicking the greatest hits of '80s and '90s metal from Metallica to Guns N' Roses.

Hail to the King's first two songs, "Shepherd of Fire" and "Hail to the King,” are almost indistinguishable. These two songs are the least interesting just because of their filler lyrics and crooning vocals. Avenged Sevenfold has some musical talent, but it doesn't even sound like they're trying with the opening two tracks. Although most of the songs on Hail to the King have that "when-the-hell-did-the-song-change?" motif of generic radio-rock, I feel like Avenged Sevenfold used the album's title track to just nap.

Lack of precision and originality aside, the album does have a couple tracks that are just fun if you are trying to practice your WWE entrance. Later in Hail to the King, "Doing Time" and "This Means War" got me bobbing my head (somewhat against my will, sneaky devils). These songs are catchy and fun, and they present an image that Avenged Sevenfold need to embrace more with this album; meaningless metal white noise to sing about cars and chicks. It's cool, man. I can respect it. Just stop trying to be Megadeth while you do it.

The only saving grace track on all of Hail to the King has to be "Planets" toward the end of the album. The vocals are powerful, the rhythm is driving, and for the first time on the LP the song is just more interesting and complex than your junior high notebook drawings. Maybe that’s when Avenged Sevenfold woke up from their recording nap? Either way it's a bummer that the band has the ability to make a song of this caliber and just chose not to include it until the end.

The album's static is made just a little more weird and dissonant by some of the production techniques and effects the band put into some songs like "Requiem" and "Shepherd of Fire". Throughout various songs, there are heralded trumpets intermingled in the songs. Why? Do Avenged Sevenfold think this helps their "skeleton-wearing-a-crown" theme of royalty? Is the album not random enough with all the echoed vocals and ZZ Top interjections? Seriously, listen to "Shepherd of Fire" and burst into beard-induced flames. Hail to the King contains a grab bag of bad sound effects, which, in this case, makes an almost passable album pretty ridiculous.

To the band’s credit, Hail to the King is actually a fairly seamless imitation. If someone didn't have a passing familiarity with the music Avenged Sevenfold usually played and the music the band is referencing on the album Hail to the King would seem more impressive. Overall, Hail to the King passes along as a blip on the radar, not bad to hear, but hard to listen to with all its combined parts.