Overall Score: 7/10 Nod to classic rock: 7/10 Oomph: 5/10 Fan Favourites: 7/10 Pros: Powerful tracks | rocking vocals Cons: Lacking originality | Missing Jimmy
When Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan tragically died in 2009, it was hard to know what the future held for Avenged Sevenfold. Jimmy was a founding member of the band, and as well as playing drums he played a major part in the writing process. The remaining Avenged Sevenfold members have since said that they considered disbanding at this point, instead though they entered the studio and completed the last album to contain Jimmy’s writing; the critically acclaimed Nightmare.
Fast forward 3 years and we have the first Avenged Sevenfold album without any musical contributions from Jimmy. Hail To The King was one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Normally, it would be an honour to review. Unfortunately in this case, I’m not quite sure what to expect. Here goes nothing!
The first thing I notice about Hail To The King is that Avenged haven’t changed their style of playing or their sound: heavy metal. This is an album that’s clearly influenced by some of metal’s greatest bands. There are more than a few nods to Metallica in opener Shepherd Of Fire, Heretic reminds me of Megadeth, M Shadows summons up the trademark Axl Rose squeal on Doing Time and Coming Home puts me in mind of old school Iron Maiden.
The title track Hail To The King has an epic introduction before thundering in to a deluge of metal mayhem. Highly thought out and multi-textural with lots of instruments and layers, it is a bloody great tune. Ok, so it isn’t Beast and the Harlot Part II but it is a beast of a song. This Means War has my favourite riff in the entire album, it may be reminiscent of Metallica’s Sad But True, but it totally personifies Avenged Sevenfold and is sure to get fists pumping when performed live. Acid Rain is another excellent song, the melody of the piano and the sheer presence of the track makes it hard not to love. Planets is dark, epic and closes the album perfectly.
On a first listen, Hail To The King seems completely derivative, and my biggest issue is that there is simply something missing from the writing. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, but the overall impression is that this is merely an album of B sides. Hail to the King has a slower pace than we’re used to from Avenged Sevenfold, and is generally just missing the oomph that endeared them to us in the first place.
After a couple more listens however, it is clear that Hail To The King is a good album, not a great album but not a bad album either. It’s certainly not the classic the band set out to make, but it has succeeded in dividing opinions of critics and music fans alike. Nevertheless, as an Avenged Sevenfold fan I enjoyed listening to it, and I feel that other fans will like it too.
Hail To The King is out now on Warner Bros Records.