It’s been nearly 8 or 9 years since I gave an Avenged Sevenfold album a proper listen. At that time, they were transitioning from an underground gem in the metalcore section to a media darling, with a signing to Warner Music and a new approach to their sound. I know that sort of introduction is usually the pre-cursor to a grouchy curmudgeon about to give you a lecture on how ‘it wasn’t like this in my day’ but…. Well, I won’t lie, that’s probably what’s about to happen. Regardless, with hype machine on overdrive concerning the coming of a new Avenged Sevenfold album later this year, I figured I’d give it a go, as the band released a new track by the name of ‘Hail To The King‘ a few days ago.
Now the big hubbub surrounding all this was that the band had suggested that the album would be far more influenced by classic rock than any of their other work, which, for me, made it a far more interesting prospect. I’ve heard all the singles since City Of Evil, if you listen to any slightly mainstream rock/metal radio/TV channel then it’s basically impossible not to, and while they were all semi-interesting rock/metal anthems with catchy choruses and the occasional big riff, it never really did it for me. Too wishy-washy with the heaviness to be interesting metal and too ham-fisted to be catchy rock music. So now, they’ve finally decided which direction to aim for, it should be a lot more convincing, right?
Not really. ‘Hail To The King‘ sort of plods along for a good 5 minutes, never really doing anything too interesting or ever ‘peaking’ at any point. It’s not bad, by any means, there’s probably more than enough here to keep fans of their recent work happy, it’s just so bland.
Lately, I’ve been listening to a LOT of rock radio, not out of choice, but by necessity. A lot of the time, they play some great music from some of those classics that even Avenged Sevenfold mentioned as influences, such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, alongside more recent rock music. And the difference is really striking, it seems a lot of bands these days by choosing to embrace ‘rock music’, simply make metal and then neuter it completely by simplifying it. Rock music is loud, swaggering and loose — ‘Dazed And Confused‘ is exciting and memorable because it’s riffs are loud, obnoxious and bluesy and ‘Sweet Leaf‘ is the fuzz-box anthem of the century because, despite it’s reliance on one or two relatively simple guitar line, still manages to exude energy through the sheer groove they display all the way through. ‘Hail To The King‘ does neither of these things, instead opting for sterile music that is obviously competent but never exciting and chorus that sits at the same homogenous level as the rest of the track, rather soaring above it all.
The plague of modern radio rock is exactly that — it’s alright, nothing special, quite inoffensive really. Other bands, like for instance Volbeat (who I’m not too fond of either to be honest), at least manage to inject some energy into proceedings. If this is the premier level of arena metal that is spawning the future festival headliners of tomorrow, then that’s quite disappointing.
Also… IT WASN’T LIKE THIS IN MY DAY. YOU KIDS WITH YOUR EYELINER AND BROKEN HEART TATTOOS, GET OFF MY LAWN.