Sound — 9
It is no secret that Avenged Sevenfold have created one of the most unique tones in hard rock that you will find out there today. This is the bands third studio album and is entirely different from the previous two; they have lost their metalcore roots and have decided to go for a cutting melodic rock approach. "City Of Evil" is the bands major record label debut on Warner Bros. Records. Produced by the combination of Mudrock and Sevenfold themselves, this is a ground-breaking rock album from the Californian quintet.
Lyrics — 8
There are many different songs on the album of which various lyrical inspirations has been sought. The album opens with the song entitled "Beast And The Harlot". The bands front man, M. Shadows, wrote the lyrics for this song and based it on the fall of Babylon (taken from the New Testament Book of Revelation). Quotes from the chapter such as "Seven headed beast, ten horns raise from his head" can be found within the song. There is one song on the album that stands out in terms of lyrical compassion. The song entitled "Betrayed" was again written by the bands lead singer Shadows and is the penultimate song on the album. The lyrics within this song are based on the death of the legendary Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. Dimebag's inspiration toward the band is epitomized by the lyrics "In my dreams it's me and you, it's there I saw it all come true." Track number 4 on the album is quintessentially unique. Based on the book "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" by Dr Hunter S Thompson. The lyrics are effectively a condensed version of the book for the 5 minutes it lasts for. Quotes from the book, for instance, "He who makes a beast out of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man", are found throughout the song. The music video features clips from the 1998 film adaptation staring Johnny Depp. As the song draws to close we feel that we have been on a journey with the Gonzo journalist Thompson and feelings of euphoria and melancholy are dramatically contrasted throughout, excellently conveyed not just by the lyrics, but also the music as well.
Overall Impression — 9
There are no obvious comparisons to make between this album and other hard rock ones out there. Inspirations appear to have been explored from the progressive rock band Dream Theater. Avenged Sevenfold's lead guitarist, Synyster Gates, plays a very similar style to Dream Theater's guitarist John Petrucci and Iron Maiden's Dave Murray. Sevenfold's drummer Jimmy Sullivan (The Rev) appears to explore the techniques employed by DT drummer Mike Portnoy. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold's front man) possesses the voice type of a high baritone and sings in a gritty, often aggressive style, similar to that of Metallica's James Hetfield. In terms of genre, there is a comparison to be made between "City Of Evil" and Bullet For My Valentine's "The Poison", in regards of guitar licks and drum fills. Stand out songs on the album are: the opening track, "Beast And The Harlot"; the fourth song, "Bat Country"; one of the most empathetic songs on the album, "Seize The Day"; the seven minute song, "Sidewinder", which employs Spanish inspirations toward the end and the final song based on war, "M.I.A." I believe that "City Of Evil" is a modern rock classic, however there is one minor fault. The texture of certain songs can become too thick at times and although it does - to a certain degree - add depth to the songs, it also means that during live performances of songs such as "Bat Country" (which is extremely rich in terms of texture) often feels to be lacking compared to the studio version which has roughly 5 guitar tracks and only two can be played live by Synyster Gates and Zacky V.