Hail to the Kings – or maybe not

Emily Haase

Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) returned with their sixth studio album “Hail to the King,” and to be honest, it left me with a deja vue, heard it before feeling.

The album begins with the sound of burning buildings and chaos as “Shepard of Fire” starts its opening guitar riff. It has an intense sound, but it’s choppy and moves too quickly from the first verse to the chorus and back again with little or no transition. This is one of many songs that go on this way; opening guitar riff, first verse, short and repetitive chorus, and repeat.

Generally, most of the songs sound exactly the same. Also, they sound like other bands’ songs.

The entire album has a very Metallica feel to it, and there are definitely a lot of similarities to Atreyu’s 2009 release “Congregation of the Damned.” “Shepard of Fire” calls to mind “Sad But True” by Metallica, “Doing Time” sounds very similar in spots to Atreyu’s “Coffin Nails” and “Requiem” has an oddly similar guitar style to DJ Ashba (of Sixx A.M.).

In normal A7X fashion, every song on the album has a guitar solo, and most of them are awe inspiring. However, they sound exactly like every other guitar solo they’ve ever done before. A lot of them also call to mind a battle scene from “Lord of the Rings,” but that isn’t too out of character for them.

There are, however, high points to the album. The title track greatly displays M. Shadow’s vocal range, and got stuck in my head (for days). The lyrics are memorable; the guitar solo (while oddly familiar) is powerful and certainly inspires head banging along with the music. Overall, a great highlight to the album.

Though “Crimson Day” has stark similarities to “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, it is an impressive ballad. In this song, the raw emotion behind losing their original drummer James “The Rev” Sullivan, (whose death in 2009 was the basis of this album, as well as most of their 2010 release Nightmare) is evident.

“Heretic” actually sounds like classic A7X, unlike most of the album. It exhibits M. Shadow’s truly unique and beautiful voice, and the song is slow and deliberate, while remaining catchy. The feel is uniquely Avenged Sevenfold.

The closing track “Acid Rain” starts with the sound of a piano along with rumbling like a space ship taking off (though thankfully quieter), and has a slow, sad, purposeful sound. Lyrics like “Life wouldn’t be so precious, dear, if there was never an end” evoke a lot of emotion to anyone who’s ever struggled with losing someone they care about, and makes it a deeply relatable track. The melodic vocals are haunting, and the guitar solo is simply breathtaking. It was unquestionably the right track to end the album.

So there are definite high and low points to the entire album. Overall, it isn’t bad. There are powerful points, and you can feel their sadness over losing James throughout, but it just sort of leaves a feeling of ‘I’ve heard this before, I’m just not sure where’.

As a longtime fan of A7X, I’m disappointed to say it failed to meet expectations. As quoted from the track “Doing Time,” “You’ve lost my attention after all.”