Sound — 10
I hadn't heard any of their stuff before I got wind of this album (got into them when Metal Hammer started majorly talking about them around release time). Got hold of the video to Bat Country and didn't look back. It takes a lot of balls to completely change your style like they have, even if it was mainly for medical reasons. Does it work? Hell yes. The sound on the album is astounding from the start of 'The Beast & The Harlot' right the way through to the end of 'M.I.A', with actual musicians that show what they can do whilst managing to not sound like utter fretboard wankers, as the expression goes. I personally thought it a damn relief to not be force-fed another band of screaming metalheads with more EMG's than the main factory, but that's beside the point. The change of style was an immense relief, and made their music Fun to listen to again in my opinion. Surely that's the most important thing, regardless of whatever message a band wants to communicate. Okay, at some points it gets a little annoying (the chorus to 'Beast & The Harlot' does get on your nerves after a while), but that happens with all records. Not the perfect sound, but the closest I've heard in a long time It'll do for a 10. The drumming of the Rev is solid & does a really good job - kicks Tommy Lee's arse any day. The bassist the only one who's name escapes me, and to be fair you can hardly hear it at all on Any of the songs, so I can hardly comment. The 2 guitars of Zacky Vengence (the more rhythm-orientated of the 2) and Synyster Gates steal the show, in all fairness. Until Machine Head's 'The Blackening' came out, this was the best guitar album of the decade, in my opinion.
Lyrics — 9
A lot's been made of what's happened to M. Shadows (would-be nominee for 'daftest name in rock' if he wasn't so damn frightening at times)since that infamous blood vessel needed to be surgically removed, stopping him from screaming. It's like trying to fence when you've got no fingers, T'is just not possible, jimmy. It still works with his singing on the album. Bloody well, brings to mind all the old 80's bands, AC/DC, Helloween & that band Axl Rose used to be in, haven't heard the name for Years (for the slow ones present, I would like to point out that was a joke. A not very good one, granted). Okay, the nasal tone does get annoying at parts, the chorus I mentioned, for one, but overall it's Damn mighty, and the 2 ballads really give him chance to shine, Seize The Day and M.I.A. Does he rise up? Not 'Arf!.
Overall Impression — 10
I feel more inclined to compare it to albums from the 80's heyday, I mentioned a fair few before, rather than trying to call them the new Metallica, Trivium & all that crap. What I loved most about it was the way that instead of following the current fashion of "Chug N' Shred", which hasn't really changed since Pantera split, the lads have completely the other direction. Granted, Shadow's operation forced it to a degree, but it doesn't sound at all enforced and uncomfortable. The most impressive numbers? Bat Country, Strength Of The World, Seize The Day, Burn It Down, Sidewinder, Thrashed & Scattered. Pretty much all of them. My only minor gripe is that they are a little bit lengthy at times. Okay, sometimes I don't notice that (Machine Head's 'Halo', for example), but after 5 minutes your perception does change a little with some of the songs. Still, best thing I've heard in a long time, congratulations are easily due for them. I might even learn the bassist's name specially.