Sound — 8
The most strinking change in A7X's new record is without a doubt the vocals. All screaming is abandoned, as vocalist M. Shadows and Avenged Sevenfold sever the umbilical cord that once connected them to the notorious Southern California hardcore/metalcore scene. This, in my opinion, was a fine move. However, unfortunately, Shadow's voice has become more nasal and, as a result, less versatile. Rumors tell us that his voice blew before the recording of the album; perhaps a correlation can be made. Aside from this, I'd say that the band has once again improved instrumentally. It's catchy and rhythmic, a rollercoaster ride of up's and downs. Mudrock should be given some credit for producing another great record for this group.
Lyrics — 5
Ok, this is what, to me, really kills the album. Shadow's lyrics, to put it very bluntly, are cliche and shallow. He places the vocals well in the music, but the words themselves fall short of invoking any real emotion or imagery.
Overall Impression — 8
I think that A7X is going in the right direction, for the most part. Those that cry "sellout!" might consider the fact that they are breaking away from the mainstream of metalcore/screamo that permeates modern up-and-coming music with a foul stench, that in all honesty I'm getting pretty tired of. With this they have actually taken a bit of a leap, compromising credibility and even some of their fanbase, as they choose to be progressive and actually go somewhere rather than rot in guttaral monotany.