Sound — 5
To begin with, this is quite a departure from City Of Evil, and a massive departure from Waking the Fallen and Seventh Trumpet. If you thought they changed quite a lot with City of Evil, you haven't seen nothing yet. Personnaly, I'm not a big fan of this new sound. It is a more mature sound, but maybe not for the best in terms of their exisitng fanbase, although this will probably gain them more fans. Also, I would not consider this metal. This is more hard rock than Metal. Techniccaly, it also seems to be different. There seems to be less of the sweep picked harmonies so common in City of Evil and more of a crunchy, power chord sound. 01. Critcal Acclaim - this is a hard song to judge. It may be the heavist song on the album, with a crunchy yet quite simple riff running through most of the song. It opens with more proof M. Shadows hasn't lost his screaming ability, with a blood-curdling roar in the intro. There are two parts to the solo, the first being melodic, then a harmonised minor key solo, with plenty of divebombs. The track also showcases The Revs singing ablitys. While not as pitch perfect as Shadows, his unique voice makes up for this. 02. Almost Easy - this is much more radio friendly song, even though the tuning appears to be dropped down to Db. The chorus is quite annoyingly repetative, and guitar-wise it's unremarkable, apart from a thrashy riff. The first half of the solo isn't great, full of off-beat sweeps, and the melodic section seems rather repetative. 03. Scream - very unremarkable song, which seems to be an odd-cross between a Waking the Fallen song, and a City of evil song. Solo is ok, with an interesting harmonized lick. The main riff is very heavy, and some quite fiddly picking. 04. Afterlife - this is probably the albums highlight. The main riff is much less crunchy, and with some cool trills. The solo beats every solo on the album hands down, and maybe is Synysters best solo so far (close to Beast and The Harlot and To End the Rapture). 05. Gunslinger - this is were the album starts to turn and not really for the best. The song opens with some acoustic slide playing, and it moves into heavier territory about a third of the way through, but still very melodic and mature sounding. The solo is very short, and sounds like a Dream Theater solo, which isn't bad, but isn't very AX7 either. 06. Unbound - wow. This is probably the closest glimpse to City Of Evil, with a sweep picked harmonized bridge section, and is quite a high tempo song. No solo this time round. 07. Brompton Cocktail - this is a very dark song, and really isn't a very happy song to listen to. There's some strings mixed in with the guitars, and gives it a more epic sound. 08. Lost - this is quite a prog rock song, the intro is wave of layered guitars, and is quite cool. There is no real riff to this song, and focuses more on lead guitar work. The chorus is interesting, and I think it's a talkbox, but I'm not sure. There are two solos, one in the bridge and one as the outro, both are very melodic, yet not that technical. 09. A Little Piece Of Heaven - personnaly, I think people have taken this song the wrong way. It's not meant to be serious what'soever, esspecially when you listen to the dark yet humrous lyrics. I won't spoil it, but they are quite hillarious. The sound is nothing like AX7 of course, as it's not meant to be taken seriously. 10. Dear God - I wish this was another jokey song. This song is truly terrible. Not song writing wise, but as a AX7 fan. AX7 is probably one of the lighest bands I listen to. I ussualy prefer bands such as In Flames and Pantera. If they had deleted this song from the album, I would give it a much higher rating. It sounds like a Sheryl Crow tie in.
Lyrics — 7
M. Shadows has obviously been training his vocal tone since City Of Evil, and it's extremely impressive. His voice never cracks once in the album, and it is more or less pitch perfect, and very powerful. Sepcial mention must also be made to The Rev, who pops his AX7 vocal cherry on Critical Acclaim. He is not as pitch perfect, and his voice cracks on occasion, but his voice is extremely unique. In terms of lyrics, there is more or less no reference to biblical litrature such as in the past 3 albums. There is more of a political stance on songs such as Critical Acclaim and Lost. Most songs revolve around relationships, such as wanting someone back (Almost Easy), hurting them on purpose (Scream) and just twisted (A Little Piece Of Heaven). I like the variety, but the biblical literature was unique lyric points for the band. and the new topics are extremely overused by other bands.
Overall Impression — 6
Compared to AX7's previous albums, this falls exremely short. The only songs I listen to freaquently are Critcal Acclaim and Afterlife. This 'mature' sound really doesn't suit my tastes. I like the extra effort Syn has put into his solos, but the actual songs themselves don't have the technicallity or even the 'fun-factor' of any other of their albums. If it was stolen, I would shrug my shoulders and simply download the two good tracks once again. Quite a dissapointment for a AX7 fan.