Review by Suzi H.
Where to start with this one? I think its worth saying I love Avenged Sevenfold and the news of a new album and me jumping with excitement. They promised us something new and different with this album and I want to tell you that I loved it, and that you should listen to it immediately. I really want to tell you that it capitalises on the sheer excellence that M.Shadows and the boys have previously demonstrated with Waking the Fallen and City of Evil….
But I can’t. I honestly can’t. Hail to the King sounds like a re-make of Metallica’s self-titled album with entire riffs seemingly lifted from Guns N’ Roses‘ Use Your Illusion II album with the odd detectable hint of Megadeth. It is, in fairness, a reasonably solid album- there’s nothing actually *wrong* with it, and if it were their first album I’d instantly recommend it for fans of the aforementioned heavyweights of the genre as a band to watch.
It starts with shades of Metallica and Shepherd of Fire. It’s not a bad track but it definitely lacks the punch I was expecting and hoping for. Lyrically it’s interesting and continues on the same dark themes we’ve come to expect from the band.
Moving onto the title track Hail to the King and things look up – the riffs sound reasonably original, and it’s got a headbanging, fist-pumping chorus, with a fantastic guitar solo in the middle. Things look up some more from there, though as you move onto Doing Time and hear M.Shadows do some traditional screaming… and then he moves onto doing his best Axl Rose impression and you’re left feeling slightly robbed.
The album progresses through This Means War which I actually sang Sad but True too under my breath all the way though when I first listened to it, and then into Reqiem, an interesting number, with orchestral backing and the odd bit of a ranty choir. The riffs are unusual, and it swoops up and down painting a picture of desolate misery. Requiem is a great track which demonstrates the best that Hail to the King has to offer.
It all comes crashing back down again with Crimson Day, which is a bizarre cross between GN’R’s Don’t Cry and Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters with some traditional A7X riffs thrown in.
Heretic is the second track from the album that I like and manages to demonstrate all of the great things A7X have done over the years with some interesting new elements. It’s fast paced and punchy with catchy lyrics and a good stompy guitar line and hints and the potential for great things to follow.
Great things do then follow with Coming Home, another track that rescues the album from being “terrible” into “mediocre, wouldn’t see a live tour”. Planets, the penultimate track, is one I found myself itching to skip through on my first listen through of the album, and the finale Acid Rain is an irritatingly cheesy-sounding power ballad-esque song as sickly as jellied sweets on a dream topping trifle.
Overall, this is an album that feels unfinished, and badly experimental. Bands change over time and their sound develops- but for many A7X fans this album won’t be a happy listening experience, especially not if you’re also a fan of 80’s Metallica and Gun’s N Roses.