Sound — 9
Before I start this review, I have to say that I am amazed that this the first review ever made for this album on UG. So I'll try my best to summarize the strengths and weaknesses of A7X's breakout album. The album starts out with what I feel is one of the strongest tracks on the album: "Beast And The Harlot". The chugging main riff in the song is enough to make any metal-head headbang themselves silly. The chugging riffs continue throughout the album, but the band isn't afraid to go soft as well, as evidenced by the melodic bridge/end of "Bat Country" and the only real "ballad" on the album, "Seize The Day". Throughout the album, Synyster Gates never fails to produce an amazing solo. His solo in "Beast In The Harlot" is superb, and his solo in "Seize The Day" really shows how influenced he is by Slash of Guns N' Roses. The album closes with "MIA", a real "epic" with a clean dueling rhythm guitar intro and a verse by M. Shadows which sets the tone for the rest of the song about a soldiers in war and their experiences. The song ends the way it begins, with Shadows delivering what I feel is one of his best vocal performances on the album. It's not so much that it is technically amazing, but that it fits the mood of the song so well. Overall, the mix is very well done. My only real complaint about anything on the album sound-wise is that the drum tones can sometimes sound a little computerized, particularly the snare drum. This isn't a knock on The Rev's drumming abilities, because he really shines on this album. I'm just not a fan of the drum tone (excluding the bass drum, which I really enjoy).
Lyrics — 7
Lyrical themes on the album include biblical themes of destruction, drugs, war and politics, and death. I have to say that the lyrics are usually pretty average, though there are shining moments on the album, such as the final verse of "MIA", and "Seize The Day". Overall, the lyrics do a good job of adding to the music without standing out over the music. However, Shadows delivery certainly adds a substantial factor to otherwise average lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
01. "Beast And The Harlot": A great way to open the album. The song starts off rather strangely at first listen, but at about the :25 it kicks into high-gear. The chugging riff during the verses is one of my favorite riffs on the entire album. The chorus is a nice change from the heaviness of the verses with a key change and a little widdly guitar line by Synyster Gates. It kicks into an amazing solo by Gates and the song continues on with more verses and choruses as well as a nice little drum solo by The Rev. It ends with the same strange vibe as it began. Overall, an a-s-kicking way to start off the album. 02. "Burn It Down": "Beast And The Harlot" segues into "Burn It Down" with some guitar slides into a chugging guitar intro. After the intro comes one of the band's trademark dueling guitar lines between Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates. The song continues chugging on through the verses with Shadows spitting rapid fire. Into the chorus comes about a trillion layers of vocals (Okay, not literally, but it seems like it). A lot of M. Shadows. At first, it kinda threw me off, but I've grown to really enjoy it. The song continues chugging on through another verse and an extended chorus before going into a pretty neat little breakdown-type thing. After this, it goes intoI dunno what I'd call it... Maybe a bridge? Followed by a short solo by Gates and another chorus before the song ends. Overall, not a bad song, though not a standout. I don't skip it in the car, but I don't skip TO it either. 03. "Blinded In Chains": Segues from the end of "Burn It Down". It starts off very similarly to "Burn It Down" with a chugged riff into a dueling solo between Zacky and Syn. After this, there is a pretty random solo before going into a groovy verse. Shadows sings of political corruption, and delivers it nicely. The chorus in this song is really catchy. There are a lot of vocal layers in the verses, but it's not as distracting as it was in "Burn It Down". After a pretty random (but cool) drum fill by The Rev, there's an awesome bridge, which is the highlight of the song in my opinion. The song ends with a bass groove and a pretty spacey sounding verse which fades out with the rest of the song. Overall, I really dig this song. It picks up where "Burn It Down" kind of falls short. 04. "Bat Country": Here's the song that we all remember hearing nonstop on the radio (at least I remember it anyways). Despite being overplayed, this is still really good song. It's very uptempo, and it keeps you listening. The chorus is damn catchy, and the melodic bridges flow very nicely after the intense chorus'. Gates delivers a great solo, and The Rev is great as usual. Despite being overplayed, I have to stress that this is a great song. 05. "Trashed And Scattered": This song starts out with a bang after the way "bat Country" ends. The verses have a sort of call-and-response thing going with them which is pretty interesting. I love the bass in this song by Johnny Christ in the pre-choruses. It grooves nicely. One of my complaints in this song is the random "Play your game and walk away!" part that happens at random. The song just stops all of a sudden and this part happens. I've listened to it many times and it still hasn't grown on me. Later in the song, there's a pretty cool "breakdown" followed by one of my personal favorite vocal deliveries by Shadows. The song ends nicely, despite the random insanity that happens earlier in the song. I do find myself skipping the song occasionally, but it's not bad at all. 06. "Seize The Day": The first (and only) ballad of the album. I really enjoy this song. I find the lyrics to be very well written, and Shadow's emotional delivery really conveys the sadness and regret in the song. Syn also has a great solo in the song. The chorus is very catchy as well. Definitely the song you'd hold your lighter in the air to at the concert. I have to be in a certain mood to listen to this song, so I find myself skipping it at times, but that doesn't detract from the fact that it's a good song. 07. "Sidewinder": This song has a pretty neat riff during the verse. One of my favorites on the album. It also has a very catchy chorus. The lead guitar lines are also pretty neat. At about 2:30, the song changes time signature for a really neat effect before changing back and speeding up. There's a pretty cool dueling solo later in the song before going back into the chorus over an acoustic guitar. I love this transition in the song. It ends with an acoustic dueling solo between Syn and his father, who guests stars on the album. Overall, it's a decent song, but it can really drag on after a while. I do skip this one fairly often. 08. "The Wicked End": This song starts off with some random bass groove before going into a dueling widdly guitar thing. It then thrashes into a heavy verse before going into a melodic chorus. It continues with another verse and chorus before going into a bridge followed by a really good solo by Gates. I think it's probably his most underrated solo on the album. Following the solo comes my favorite part of the song. A clean guitar comes in playing arpeggios higher up on the neck. Then, a cello comes in with a harp and some choir voices. Before you know it, a full-fledged symphony is in the mix. The first time I heard this part, I eargasmed. After the symphony, it transfers into a verse which follows the same sort of mood the symphony left with. I really like how this part of the song flowed. The song returns to the heavy thrashy verse (somehow) and ends after one last chorus. Overall, this song surprised me. I really enjoyed it's transitions. 09. "Strength Of The World": This song starts with a very western cowboy sort of vibe. It then transitions into a pretty heavy section with a pretty cool-sounding guitar riff. I enjoy M. Shadow's delivery on this song. To be honest, my only complaint on this song is the backing "gang" vocals. They almost sound like a barking dog to me, and it hasn't really grown on me at all. I do find it kind of hard to not skip this song sometimes though, considering it goes on for about 9 and a half minutes. The highlight of the song is at about 5:30 when it transitions into a melodic verse with an acoustic guitar. The song returns to it's hard-rocking vibe after this. Not a bad song. Not special though. 10. "Betrayed": This is probably my least favorite song on the album. It's about Dimebag Darrel and his murderer. Nothing really stands out for me on this song however. 11. "MIA": This song starts out with a clean dueling rhythm guitar and a verse from Shadows about soldiers in the war. The song goes into a heavy verse with more descriptions of the plight of a soldier in the war. Great riffage during these heavy verses. The chorus leaves a bit to be desired in my opinion, but it definitely isn't bad. The bridge in the middle of the song is pretty intense, and the solo following that is really nice. The song ends the way it began with soft dueling guitars and a somber verse from Shadows. I love the chord changes in the outro. Finally, the song ends with an acoustic guitar solo that fades out. Great song. Great way to end the album. Overall, this album is really good. It has it's fillers like most albums do, but the strong songs are STRONG. I would buy it again if it got stolen (in fact, I'm pretty sure it got lost somewhere, so I'll probably have to buy it again). Also, I do have to say, my favorite A7X albums in order are: "Nightmare" "COE" Self-titled "WTF" "SotST"