As much as I can appreciate Dom Coccaro’s taste in old horror flicks, I have to disagree with his article Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold: Brand Spanking Old Metal. While I’m not familar with the former band, I think that Avenged Sevenfold deserves a bit more credit than he is willing to give them. Their sound may be somewhat derivative of older music, but this is not always a bad thing.
I first heard Avenged Sevenfold this past spring, driving home from the store one night with a friend. We were chatting, but both of us stopped rather suddenly, and I turned up the radio. The music playing was an impressive guitar solo, the likes of which neither of us had heard on the radio in some time. The guitar solo sounded like it was straight out of an 80s hair metal song. We speculated about what band this might be, suspecting that it was some older band who had put out new music.
The song ended, and the DJ announced the band as Avenged Sevenfold, and the song, as it turned out, had been “Bat Country.” After dropping my friend off at his house, I promptly went home and did some poking around, until I was able to find and download every Avenged Sevenfold song that had been released. Three albums worth of material later, I was thoroughly hooked.
Avenged Sevenfold caught our attention because they weren’t like all of the other music we were hearing on the radio at that point in time. The one good station that we had in town was largely a mix of metal and classic rock, but had taken to playing a lot of the emo bands who had become increasingly popular. So to finally hear the good station playing something that I liked was a welcome change.
When I talked to some of my other friends about Avenged Sevenfold, it turned out that some of those who were into more punk and metal than I was had already heard of them, and these friends told me that City of Evil (2005), their newest CD, was not their best. They suggested that I listen to Avenged Sevenfold’s older CDs, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (2001/2002) and Waking the Fallen (2003) if I wanted to hear the good stuff. I was inclined to disagree at first – I really liked “Bat Country,” and some of the other songs from City of Evil were beginning to grow on me as well.
After more thorough and careful listening to Avenged Sevenfold’s earlier CDs, I understand the statements of my friends. For people who liked their earlier CDs, City of Evil is a big departure from their earlier sound. Among other changes, M. Shadows, the lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold, doesn’t scream nearly as much on City of Evil, which has actually led to the band no longer being considered “metalcore.” Regardless of their musical classification, though, I think that all three of their CDs are well worth listening to. As it turns out, my favorite Avenged Sevenfold song is “Warmness on the Soul,” which is from their first album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, and sounds very little like most of their other music.
When it comes down to it, I think that my favorite thing about Avenged Sevenfold is that their lyrics run the gamut of topics. “Chapter Four” (Waking the Fallen) is a retelling of the story of Cain and Abel. “Betrayed” is Avenged Sevenfold’s tribute to Dimebag Darrell, formerly of Pantera and Damageplan, after his untimely death in 2004. And “Bat Country” is a reference to the work of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. This is just a small selection of the scope of their lyrical work, which is backed up by their musical skill, particularly those guitar solos that remind me of 80s hair metal bands. Perhaps this makes their work somewhat derivative, but in my opinion, anything that doesn’t sound like everything else on the radio deserves a closer listen.
Avenged Sevenfold recently cancelled scheduled tour dates in England, citing their desire to work on a new album as the reason behind the cancellations. This untitled album is tentatively due out in early 2007, and I, for one, can’t wait to hear it.