Monday, January 14, 2008

Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold

I hope you all had a great holiday season! I did. In fact, The Pope must have been a good little boy this year coz’ he came away with some looooot! When I awoke Christmas morning and stumbled down the stairs (you can picture me in a fuzzy pink bunny outfit if you like, I don’t care), I found my stocking stuffed with something dark and heavy. Quite mysterious, I thought. After all, I tried to be good. I tried to eat all of my broccoli. On closer inspection, I spied with my wee little bespectacled eye, not a lump of coal for which I first thought. No . . . it was the new Avenged Sevenfold CD. It just had that dark and foreboding appearance. Quite a simple mistake, really.

Now . . . I had lost track of these guys for the past few years, and to these fine young musicians, I do apologize. I heard their first two album some time back, and even went and caught a local performance with my little sister. To say I was a fan would be a gross overstatement, but I did respect them. They were doing something just a bit different while sonically kicking my ass up and down the block. Let’s say, those early albums set the table for what we have here today. A multifaceted, multidimensional musical odyssey that punches you straight in the nose from the first notes, and quietly, maybe even somberly, shovels dirt over your corpse as the disc ends.

“Critical Acclaim” kicks off the disc with a full on riff-fest . . . pretty much what one would stereotypically expect from Avenged Sevenfold. Double bass drums, screaming vocals, a full on barrage of noise. But, then something happens that I personally found unexpected. The vocals came out with a sense of urgency that dared you to not pay attention. Production values were cleaner and more crisp than any hardcore/metal core album I’ve laid ears on. A multi-instrumental orchestral conquest. A new level of maturity? Sure. You could call it that. I like to think of it as artistic growth.

This growth continues onto “Almost Easy”, which has a chorus that I’ve had stuck in my head for the past week. Yeah. You read that right. Amongst all this testosterone laden metal, Avenged Sevenfold have a bitchin’ sense of melody. Great vocal harmonies. Guitar virtuosity. The works. “Scream” comes in with some more interesting guitar work played over a primal groove-type thing. This is one of those songs that should have all those bad little Goth girls pole dancing with its pelvis pumping bass lines. Give it time, you’ll see I’m right.

Though the album is primarily a dark and gothy, spook-core kind of disc, there are a few more surprises that the band throw at us. “Gunslinger” and “Dear God” are acoustic based tunes, the latter has more of a country Skynard feel and had me initially questioning its inclusion on the disc. Not because it’s a bad song. Quite the contrary . . . it may very well be the best song on the album. But it’s so different than anything else on the album that it doesn’t fit with the overall theme and groove. Please . . . don’t let that deter you from picking up the album. Once you hear it in the context of the album you’ll know what I mean, and you too will fall in love with it.

The most ambitious track is the ninth one, entitled “A Little Piece of Heaven.” It would be a fitting accompaniment for a musical about Jack Skellington. It’s grand in scope, almost bombastic at times, and maybe bordering on pretentious . . . but somehow they kept this car on the road. It’s truly a stunning piece of music that will have you singing along by the time the eight minute epic is winding down. Again, I got back to that artistic growth. Avenged Sevenfold will probably get some heat from the old school fans, but to hell with them. A musician has to push their own boundaries to grow. Hell! Everybody has to do that to grow . . . so, to any detractors of the band . . . piss off! When’s your album coming out?

They’re creepy. They’re kooky. They’re mysterious and spooky. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Avenged Sevenfold! This album bucks a lot of trends and treats us to some remarkable musicianship. Every member of the band has an outstanding performance on this disc, and honorable mention should go to singer M. Shadows. His vocals shine and allows the band to grow to heights that require me to purchase a telescope. All the best, gentlemen . . . you deserve all the success in the world for your efforts on this album! - Pope JTE

Buy here: Avenged Sevenfold

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