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The Greyhound

Hail to the King, Continuing a Legacy

A new song starts playing on your favorite radio station, something new yet totally recognizable.  Guitar riffs that sound like Slash, yet an attitude that would bring a tear to Metallica’s eye.  You’re sitting in the driver’s seat, windows down, hair waving with the breeze, radio blaring, but can’t figure out whose song it is.  A memorable chorus plays, the lines “hail to the King, hail to the one, kneel to the crown, stand in the sun” stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

The song, called “Hail to the King,” is the first single found on the album of the same name by the band named Avenged Sevenfold (A7X).  Formed in Huntington Beach, California in 1999, the band consists of lead singer M. Shadows, lead guitarist Synyster Gates, rhythm guitarist Zacky Vengeance, bassist Johnny Christ, and drummer Arin Llejay, who recently joined the band due to the death of the original drummer, James “The Rev” Sullivan.  Hail to the King is the band’s sixth studio album and was highly anticipated in the rock world.  With its release, the album was given good ratings by Rolling Stone Magazine (3 out of 5 stars), Alternative Press (4 out of 5 stars), and Artistdirect [ES1] (5 out of 5 stars).

Any rock enthusiast who has heard an A7X song would know that their sound revolves around fast, heavy metal guitar riffs, shredding solos, and metaphorical imagery in their lyrics.  However, this album is different.  The band told us that they went with a classic rock sound for their new album, with simple melodies and basic drums beats, but let’s face it, every band says this, so we disregard it and expect a heavy thrash album like always.  A7X was not lying though.  Their new album sounds just like an ‘80s tribute album to Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses and less like an  original A7X album.  There’s nothing too exciting about the individual songs, but as a whole, the album portrays what rock ‘n’ roll used to be.  Many fans are deeply disappointed about the lack of originality, while some admit that it’s their favorite album so far.  Some songs sound familiar, like I’ve heard them before, while some sound like a Metallica song with different lyrics.  The album is entertaining to listen to; shouldn’t that be what makes an album successful?  They’re simply following in the footsteps of successful bands before them.

The lyrics were written entirely by M. Shadows, unusual for A7X.  Over the past decade, M. Shadows wrote lyrics alongside founding member, the late James Sullivan, who wrote the majority of lyrics and songs.  His lyrics could be dark and sinister with deep metaphorical images, or funny and hardly serious, much like the name of his side band named Pinkly Smooth. almost like a Dr. Seuss story.  Sullivan passed in 2009 due to a mixture of medications and alcohol.  Many of the band’s major hits, such as “Almost Easy” and “Afterlife,” were written in his home studio during his hiatuses from the band.  In interviews from band members, they remarked about the times he wouldn’t come to the band’s studio and instead stay out of touch for weeks at home and write music.  Hail to the King is the first true album written without Sullivan’s creative genius.  Although their album Nightmare was released after his death, he wrote many of the songs, and the tracks were recorded by former Dream Theatre drummer Mike Portnoy.  Fans were skeptical about whether the band would be able to continue their career without their lead songwriter, but they were.  Although the lyrics aren’t as creative and original as Sullivan’s, they still portray emotions, tell a story, and get stuck in the heads of A7X listeners.

The band decided to limit a prominent component in their songs that are found on earlier albums: harmonized guitar solos.  While they are found on Hail to the King, they are more covered by vocals than they are featured.  In past albums, guitar harmonies were played throughout the entire song, complementing the vocal’s melodies.

The album isn’t a creative masterpiece, but it’s fun and entertaining to listen to.  A7X released a solid album with rock ‘n’ roll at its base.

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Hail to the King, Continuing a Legacy