Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold; Single review
In just over a week (at time of writing) American metallers Avenged Sevenfold’s new album, Hail to the King, will be dropping. It’ll be their first album with brand new drummer Arin Ilejay (ex-Confide) and has been promised to be a throwback to classic rock and metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. The single arrived last July and on the 16th August the music video (linked above) was shown. So, how does it hold up and does it bode well for the upcoming album?
…Not really, I’m afraid.
You can indeed see the influence from classic metal in the song, that much is true. It was clearly written with the NWOBHM style in mind, but unfortunately it’s filtered through the wringer of modern metal, which has rendered it devoid of the melodies, harmonies, powerful rhythm and soul of one of metal’s greatest ages. Lead guitarist Synyster Gates constantly noodles away underneath the band, playing a riff that sounds like a slowed-down lick from one of the great German speed metal bands, while bassist Johnny Christ lays down a muddy and indistinct bassline to go along with Ilejay’s basic rock beat.
It’s worth pointing out that the band did say prior to the release that Ilejay decided to play in a more conservative and toned-down manner than to previous drummer the late-Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan’s incredible drumwork, which is fair enough, but he could’ve at least tried to play something interesting for the lead single.
The rhythm guitar, provided by Zacky Vengeance, is scuppered by the efforts of producer Mike Elizondo (producer of Avenged’s previous album Nightmare, as well as Mastodon’s The Hunter and a plethora of hip-hop albums), who lets him be heard briefly in the intro before all but mixing him out entirely. He can be heard far off in the background during the choruses, but otherwise he might as well have not bothered showing up for recording. Finally, vocalist M Shadows delivers a decent performance here (his singing really has come on leaps and bounds over the last few albums) but he’s let down by the lack of power in the song. As the chorus comes in, he wails “Hail to the King, hail to the one!” but the lack of a rhythm guitar behind it means the chorus is left bereft of any crunch or power it might have had, while the volume of the gang vocals that follow it up, shouting “Hail!” are turned down so low that all it results in is a pathetic background shout.
All said, the song isn’t bad, per se. Sure, it’s a little dull, but I think that’s really more down to the awful mixing than to any fault of the band. The rhythm ought to have had a greater presence, giving the chorus more power and the verse more structure and the gang vocals ought to have been louder in order to give the post-chorus more strength. The solo could’ve fitted more with the song (it’s more like a metalcore solo than a heavy metal one) and perhaps harmony lines or more varied rhythms could’ve helped the song escape its drudgery. In the end, I worry that the album will be as dull as this single. Thanks to the presence of Elizondo as producer, I certainly don’t hold out hope that it will sound better.
About jimalexparkerA student and musician, with a love of video games, politics, history and English. Got a taste for writing, ranting and raving, with some reviewing thrown in for good measure.
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