Avenge Sevenfold “City of Evil”

Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) are a bit of a sticking point in the world of metal. Some true metalheads growl that they look all emo, balking at anyone whose hair doesn’t hang down to their waists, but the truth is, despite their short bangs and tight T-shirts, this California five-piece couldn’t be more metal if they had liquid iron running through their veins.

“City of Evil” is A7X’s major label debut and features a different style from previous albums. The enigmatically named frontman M. Shadows is back with a brand-new throat after ruining

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it with his screaming vocals. Now Shadows has decided that singing is the best policy and he might just be right.

“City of Evil” is an air-guitarist’s dream. It features harmony guitar lines that Iron Maiden would be jealous of, solos a certain Mr. E.Van Halen would be chuffed with and the heaviest riffs this side of James Hetfield’s wispy facial hair.

Add to this the kind of pomp that not even Spinal Tap would dare try, and you’ve got a killer metal album that practically oozes testosterone.

The first track, “Beast and the Harlot,” is like a punch in the face. These guys mean business. You have it all: heavy riffs, lyrics about demons, and drumming that could only be played by someone with eight legs. And behind it all: melody. Yes, actual melody, for once.

It’s also amazing to hear a man with biceps roughly the size of Luxembourg sing such high notes. Okay, so Shadows may be mostly singing through his nose, but who cares? It works. You can tell him you don’t like it if you want, but I don’t rate your chances in an arm-wrestling contest.

In case you were wondering, the rest of the band also has suitably silly names including Synyster Gates, Johnny Christ and The Rev. Excellent.

Every song has anthemic quality. This is the kind of music you can pump your fist to in a stadium or listen to while riding a Harley-Davidson into a post-apocalyptic landscape. I’m unable to convey quite how manly these songs are. If they were personified, you wouldn’t mess with them. “Trashed and Scattered” is a case in point, with non-relenting drum and bass hammering away at your brain for six full minutes. Speaking of which, those with a short attention span probably won’t appreciate the album, as the shortest song is just shy of five minutes.

Many have pointed the finger at A7X for wanting to be the new Guns N’ Roses. “Seize the Day” is the most obvious nod to Axl (it’s got pianos and everything). The true standout track, though, is “Strength of the World,” with an intro that could be used on a spaghetti Western/“Lord of the Rings” crossover movie quite convincingly, and then a verse so metallic, magnets fly toward it. And, oh, the chorus. Group chants have never sounded so macho.

“City of Evil” is a true modern metal masterpiece. It’s got everything a metal fan wants, and more. Not many bands get away with impromptu flamenco guitar solos played at indecent speeds, or sections of songs sung by 14-year-old choir members, but AX7 carry it out with aplomb. It’s raucous rock that takes you and impales you to a wall with the heaviest and sharpest piece of steel it can find. Go and buy it!

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