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CD Review: Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil

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Every so often an album comes out of nowhere and just captures your attention. City of Evil has taken control of my auditory canals and refuses to let go. However, it has been a journey getting to this point.

For the longest time, I avoided Avenged Sevenfold like the plague. It wasn’t because of the music; it wasn’t really for any worthy reason at all. Despite hearing all the rumblings of how good they were, I had a hard-coded preconceived idea of what I expected them to sound like. Considering how popular they seemed to be, I figured they were another post-hardcore/screamo band. Those things just keep multiplying, and so many of them sound similar that I can’t tell them apart. There you have it, my main reason for avoiding these guys.

At some point, a few months back, I broke down. I gave into all the whisperings and mentions of Avenged Sevenfold. I went out and picked up City of Evil. What did I have to lose? An hour listening to it? And that’s assuming I listened to the whole thing. Well, I made it through that initial time, and I haven’t looked back. The disk has continuously found its way into my CD player and on to my playlists.

City of Evil is the first album to grab me like this since I first heard The End of Heartache by Killswitch Engage. Much like that album, I have fast fallen in love with the music contained on the little shiny disk.

Avenged Sevenfold completely smashed my preconceptions. What I thought they would sound like and what they actually do sound like could not be further removed. From the opening strains of “Beast and the Harlot” through the closing notes of “M.I.A.” had me trapped by the ears.

Avenged Sevenfold has captured the sound and feel of the LA glam scene from the 1980s. They have managed to take that look and sound and brought it into the new millennium. The sound is definitely reminiscent, but it is so much more than a mere throwback to those old days of my youth. Instead of a shadow of a past that many would like to forget, they have taken that inspiration and forged new ground, delivering a rock album that is as stunningly original as it is familiar. Not an easy feat to accomplish.

Not content with the sound, they have gone the extra step. The band photo looks as if it would have been right at home amongst the liner notes of a LA Guns or Guns ‘n Roses album. It’s like looking into the past yet remaining firmly entrenched in the modern age. The hat, the sunglasses, the sleeve tattoos, the black t-shirts, the aloof “I’m cooler than you” attitude, it is like looking into an alternate past. A past where the glam scene developed past the superficiality of which it collapsed under, it retained the edge that made it cool and grew into an epic behemoth. Avenged Sevenfold is the culmination of that era.

The first thing that grabbed me, as that first song kicked into gear, is the guitar duo of Synyster Gates and Jacky Vengeance. Whether it is a blistering solo, soaring harmonies, or bone crunching riffs, these two are a solid unit of stringed destruction. Then there is the frontman, vocalist M. Shadows. He possesses one of the best rock voices I have heard in recent years, taking just the right amount of raspy edginess and showing off what he’s got. He doesn’t rely on screams and growls to deliver his words (although that style does have its place!). He fronts the band with a confident swagger and a voice to back it up. Lastly there is the rhythm section, Johnny Christ on bass and The Rev on drums. They are rock solid, keeping the pace fast and furious. They are more than just backup, they are integral to the band, filling out the sound and putting an individual stamp on the final product.

City of Evil is filled from start to finish with a display of great songwriting, technical expertise, and infectious grooves. One of my favorite songs also happens to be the first single, which I did not even realize until later, the Hunter S. Thompson dedicated “Bat Country.” The song has a great chorus that just begs for a sing along. The next single is the album-opener, the fast paced “Beast and the Harlot,” which is also a great track. There are also some great moments within songs that I love to hear, for example there is this little drum breakdown in “Burn it Down” which just gets me every time, it is brief but adds so much flavor, another is the trading of the heavy riff between drums and guitar in “Trashed and Scattered.”

Another thing that really impressed me is the presence of a ballad. Avenged Sevenfold has given us the great acoustic guitar and piano-flavored “Seize the Day.” It is a sad, personal song that is a big of change of pace from what came before, yet feels so comfortable. Then there is “Betrayed,” a song dedicated to the memory of the late Dimebag Darrell, and the 9 minute epic “Strength of the World.” It is so hard to rank these songs; they all have their own personality and way to drag you in.

Bottomline. This is an absolute must own album. It grabs a hold and does not let go. The raw ability that they possess is staggering. I guarantee that you will love this album. On a last note, they are also a great live act, from their live ability to their stage show; it is a great extension to what they have created here.

Highly Recommended.

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About Draven99

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    i liked this record too.

    nice review chris.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Saw ’em live on MTV and I wasn’t impressed but I did like your review…very thorough. In my opinion, the drums sounded triggered and what work they do with two guitarists doesn’t really showcase much talent.As for the bass,it reminds of the mind numbing bass lines from “And Justice..”. Yeah, so mind numbing that you can’t hear ’em. You are correct in one facet,Chris,they are definately reminiscent of the cheesy bands that ruined the so-called genre from the 80’s.

  • http://sadchild79 George Lerinsky

    couldn’t agree with you more. great album, great review and to be honest i did avoid them at one point too, but their performance at last years warped tour sealed the deal for me.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    This article has been placed at the Advance.net Web sites, a site affiliated with about 12 newspapers.

    One such site is here.

  • Caspian

    personly i had to people ask me if i had heard of avenged sevenfold and i siad no i hadn’t, so after that second one, I found a place with some previews of there songs earlier today and now i love the band! i don’t know, they just get me pumped up and i skate better…

  • Logan Nick

    Dude waking the fallen was avenged sevenfolds best fucking album, they were a badass hardcore band! Then they went all soft which pissed me off but they are still my #1 favriote fucking band of all times and will be until I die! Just like Matt Shadows tattoo, U know the one he got when he was 15 the true till death tattoo, well im true till avenged sevenfold till death and thats why I have the same fucking tattoo! City of evil wasnt there best album but, they are still a badass band, and your right Synester Gates and Zacky Vengeance are the most fucking badass guitarist of all times! Im saying that those two together fucking rock! I try to learn to play all there songs, well Zackys part any ways I havent tried to much of Synesters his stuff is a little to advanced for me I mean the solos and every thing, for example I wont see you tonight part 2, that guitar solo is way the fuck to crazy for me! Well im gonna go, and avenged sevenfold is the number 1 most fucking bad ass band ever, Matt Shadows if you ever see this shit please scream a little more your scream was so fucking bad ass!!!!!!

  • mike

    good album, i agree. but the one guitarist name is zacky, not jacky, like you wrote. just thought i’d point that out

  • http://www.myspace.com/a7x_eternallyexpelled Sarah

    A&X is the best band out there, by far. There awesome to see live. I have met two of them, now I just have to meet the other three. I love WTF more then any other cd that they came out with..COE is full of attitude and all that good stuff! I cought COE the first day it came out, It was awesome. At first I didnt’t like Bat Country as much as I did the other songs, but thats okay! There still the best band of eternaty. Thats why I’m getting Tattoo of them..I designed it..its awesome. People will say that I’m going to hate it in ten years. I wont it will remind me of my childhood and shit.
    For everyone out there go buy COE.

  • Hollis

    Logan Nick…how did you find out what that tattoo said?? I’ve been searching forever!! When I saw that you knew I started freaking out. Anyways, Avenged Sevenfold is the greatest band ever. They never fail to surprise me. I loved the Seize The Day music video. It was awesome. Chapter Four is my favorite song!! Does anyone have any idea when their next cd comes out??

  • slutty bitch

    you guys fuck’n rock, you are my freak’n god’s. I love you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!