Hail to the King review by Avenged Sevenfold

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  • Released: Aug 26, 2013
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (1,978 votes)
Avenged Sevenfold: Hail to the King
1

Sound — 9
Avenged Sevenfold was formed in 1999, releasing their first album, "Sounding the Seventh Trumpet," two years later in 2001. This release was more metalcore than the straightforward metal sound they've come to be known for since. This was due in part to M. Shadows wanting to move away from screamed vocals, going so far as taking vocal lessons from the same instructor that had been used by Axl Rose and Chris Cornell. By the time their third album, "City of Evil," was released the screamed vocals had almost exclusively been replaced by actual sang vocals. This also resulted in the musical sound of the band to change, with more guitar solos and less metalcore breakdowns. Their next release, which was self-titled, showed another step away from metalcore. The drummer, The Rev, passed away in 2009 because of a drug overdose and was temporarily replaced by Mike Portnoy (formerly of Dream Theater) for the recording of the next album, "Nightmare." Despite The Rev passing away before the recording of the album had completed, he was still involved in the creative process of the album, so through this his last work with the band was released posthumously. "Nightmare" proved to be the band's most successful album to date. Soon after the band decided that Mike Portnoy was not the best fit as a full time replacement for The Rev and began a hunt for a permanent replacement. They settled on Arin Ilejay in 2011. "Hail to the King" will be the first album where Arin participated in the creative process and recorded with A7X, and will also be the first album with no creative input from The Rev. "Hail to the King" was recorded in early 2013. There are 10 tracks that clock in at just over 53 minutes. The title track was the first single from the album and made available in July. Shortly after in August the album was made available to stream in iTunes, as well as the track "Shepherd of Fire" being used as the theme song for the "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" map "Origins." The album opens with the track "Shepherd of Fire," which has an old school (think early Metallica, especially with the bell tolling such as from the beginning of "For Whom the Bell Tolls") vibe, especially in the intro. "Shepherd of Fire" quickly shows it has its own identity as you listen further into the track. The next track is the title track, "Hail to the King," which is a fairly slow tempo track for a metal song but it makes up with some solid melody and some gang vocals. The solo also has an almost neo-classical feel to it. The track "This Means War" is another song with a very "hook-y" riff going on, but the song doesn't really start to shine until the solo and afterwards. "Requiem" starts out with some Latin chanting but when the instruments come in, this is probably the track with the strongest groove on the album. "Heretic" was another standout track to me, starting out with some interesting lead guitar and then when the song gets into full swing it sounds like something Megadeth might have recorded in their prime. The album closes out with the track "Acid Rain," which actually has a piano running through the song and a very interesting melodic lead guitar line. While "Acid Rain" is much "lighter" than what you would expect on an A7X album, it somehow works and is a great song to close the album out with.

Lyrics — 8
M. Shadows has really impressed me over time as he has shown himself to be able to consistently provide some of the best non-screamed vocals in metal today. There are no absolutely no complaints I can make about his vocals they are really immaculate in the context of A7X. The lyrics are pretty much standard fare for metal, and as an example here are some lyrics from the track "Heretic": "As they search for blood/ All lies descend on one/ Honest man in chains/ But that don't matter anyway/ My judgment day/ My flesh will feed the demon/ No trial, no case for reason/ I been chosen to pay with my life/ Mad men, they find what matters/ Turning witches and saints to ashes/ Rising masses marching to find heretic blood/ Impose your will on me/ Till fire sets me free/ The flames of hell burn bright/ My fate decided by their lies/ Final demise." Pretty standard lyrics for metal, but still interesting in their own right.

Overall Impression — 8
I know people hate comparisons with bands, but at the end of the day "Hail to the King" reminds me of what Metallica might have sounded like if they didn't take that sharp left back at the "Black Album." Of course, they aren't quite as heavy and not quite as adventurous as early Metallica, but A7X have definitely figured out how to write a solid metal album. I think there is a desire amongst a lot of metal purists to have A7X, but at the end of the day what they're producing is very worthwhile. One thing they're doing is pushing the idea of the guitar solo back into popular music, because at this point Avenged Sevenfold might be the most well-known metal band to the general public (with the exception of Metallica, or Led Zeppelin if you want to call them metal). My only gripe is at times I feel like they were making a special effort to keep their music "radio friendly," but that goes out the window when you realize the vast majority of the tracks are over 5 minutes each. I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite tracks from the album, but the first few that come to mind are "Heretic," "Shepherd of Fire" and "Acid Rain." Personally, this album is immediately my favorite Avenged Sevenfold album released to date.

194 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Mr Winters
    Not their best, but it's not bad, has some great songs. The drumming is quite underwhelming though.
    Crackheadrich
    I think that's a shame personally since in interviews they specifically said that they wanted to simplify the drumming and I totally agree it comes off underwhelming compared to their other albums which it shouldn't be since they got a replacement with near enough exactly the same style as the rev had
    sideslick
    I just got Guitar World today (Syn and Zacky are on the cover again, I couldn't help myself at the store...), and in the interview inside (plugging Hail to the King), they talked about how they had to tell Arin to hold back and how he was all confused about the simplified patterns. At the very end of the interview, Syn says "We feel like we're firing on all cylinders... Or MOST of all cylinders. There's always going to be that empty spot, given everything that's happened." Yes, he prefaced that statement with something along the lines of "We love our new drummer", but it still must be a bit of a low-blow to Arin. They will always love Jimmy, but it's as if the rest of the band thinks that Arin is inadequate next to his predecessor. I can't help but think that Arin is being Newstead-ed a little bit. It doesn't seem like they appreciate him as much as they should, wanting him to stay at a level just-short of The Rev.
    pianoman43092
    Obviously you don't pay an attention to the interviews and public statements that the band puts out there. They've commended arin countless times on his drum playing and would never make any drummer an official member if they couldn't keep up with The Rev. They passed on Mike Portnoy who is a great drummer so obviously they wouldn't settle for just anyone. Hail to the King is everything they claimed it was going to be and more. Great album by an amazing band and hated by many because its different. Exactly what they predicted.
    KISS mania
    I think Arin got off lucky with having to do easier drums. He's been put under pressure to carry on where the rev left off, and by doing something completely different to 'standard Avenged' I think that's deflected some of the criticism he was undoubtedly going to get
    Holoogamooga
    Or people will blame him for the stylistic shift. It could go either way.
    godisasniper
    I think there was always going to be a huge stylistic shift. The Rev was by far the most creative member of the band IMHO and the one who came up with a lot of the craziest parts, and this is the first album without any of his songwriting. The current lineup is simply not going to be writing something as expansive and insane as A Little Piece of Heaven. I'm happy that they're turning over a new page and not just trying to keep doing what they were doing before, because they can't, and what they're doing now is quite good.
    vash1990
    I see way more un-informed people claim he sucks because the drums are too simple.
    KISS mania
    well they should all be directed to live performances seeing as he's had to learn how to play every song, so clearly he can't be that bad hahahah
    pianoman43092
    There's no such thing as "standard Avenged Sevenfold" listen to all of their albums. None sound the same as the last. The band Iis "Constantly evolving" to quote the band themselves. They write music they love. They don't lie to themselves to make you happy. And for that, I love them and will foREVer.
    fanA7X6661
    They wanted simple drums. Gates said it broke the poor kid's heart to have to abandon his normal style of playing to meet the goal of the "next evolution of Avenged Sevenfold," as Shadows put it. They did their homework and wanted to be the modern Metallica or Pantera.
    dropdead
    Another Metallica comparisonn here, ..... But Arin Ilejay is Avenged's Jason Newstead. Maybe in 2020 Well get a band called "Ilejay"
    BwareDWare94
    The kid's good, but his live show isn't very tight, so they'll sound better playing this stuff, as a whole, until he gains more experience and ability.
    hereticfive
    ive seen them play 4 times since him joining, including their free show on monday, and each time he's gotten better and better. at their free show he didnt miss a single beat, he was on point and kept the tempo, and they played for 2 hours. the longest set ive ever witnessed from a single band, and ive been to hundred of shows.
    henrihell
    Not their best, because it's unfortunately their worst. I think this is A7X's "sharp left" as the reviewer said. I'd vote this for biggest letdown of 2013...
    driftman
    Exactly how I felt about it
    tuuxo
    Me too, but i think it's still not worse than their first albums. (Yeah, I know everybody loves it, but I, honestly, don't like screamo)
    Dxbanderson
    And THAT being said Coming Home is ****ing brilliant, with the best drums on the album.
    a drummer
    Definitely the gem of the record. The shred-fest guitar solo is awesome and the chorus is so ****ing huge.
    Ottmeister
    When i first heard "Coming Home", i thought the track was gonna be ****ing huge! Such a great great intro, the rest of the song kinda underwhelmed me, but just because the beginning was such a masterpiece.
    Dxbanderson
    I'm of the opposite opinion, the intro is my least favourite part. It just sounds so piddly and weak, then it builds into something that IS huge, and really feels like A7X. Just my 2 cents though.
    Vash_15
    This review reads more like a Wikipedia article than anything.
    Kreuger
    You've nailed it. I loved the self titled and Nightmare and a handful of the older songs but this album just didnt click for me. I found it mostly boring.
    FamousA
    All the Arin Ilejay haters, go listen to "Not Ready to Die" and "Carry On" by A7X. Arin drummed both of those and he COMPLETELY slayed it. Also, I saw them live and he COMPLETELY slayed all the drumming parts that the Rev wrote. So, case and point, he is just as good as The Rev. I know I'm gonna get blasted for this (for some reason, when a musician dies he or she is thought of as the greatest musician in the history of all mankind) but if he played all the parts the Rev wrote, and wrote some amazing drum lines (at least for "Not Ready to Die" and "Carry On") how is he not AS GOOD? I prefer the Rev and he will be remembered for every amazing thing that he was. At the same time, this kid has got it.
    Aj1991
    Glad to see this getting a positive review. Really loving this album at the moment
    Oborth
    wow this album is pretty good they've done a great job again
    telephonebear
    i dont hate a7x and i really like a lot of the tracks from this album, but this means war couldnt be more like sad but true if it tried
    awesomerocker95
    Really loved this album, loving the classical metal style. I personally dont see anything wrong with the drums, they told him to keep it plain and simple and its really worked
    EpsilonX
    "Hail to the King reminds me of what Metallica might have sounded like if they didn't take that sharp left back at the Black Album." Hail To The King sounds nothing like the first 4 etallica albums. In fact, The Black Album is one of the albums it's most commonly compared to.
    shredder3386
    Its commonly compared to the Black Album because they are sections that are blatantly stolen from the Black Album. Not a terrible album, but taking inspiration from something and copying something are two different things. Wish they would have dialed back the Metallica switch a little bit.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Which is what he was saying. After the black album, Metallica basically did a bunch of radio/arena rock stuff for a few albums.
    MaggaraMarine
    But is the review talking about Black Album or the album after Black album being the sharp left turn when it says "at Black Album"? Because when I read it, I thought it was talking about Black Album being the "sharp left" turn.
    guitarplaya070
    "Hail to the King" reminds me of what Metallica might have sounded like if they didn't take that sharp left back at the "Black Album." - How can you be reminded of something that never happened?
    fromzero
    If they did a Black Album 2 is what he meant. This Means War = Sad But True. I personally think the album is based on first person shooters. Look at all of the Halo references: Heretic, Requim, Crimson Day (Crimson is your spartan op's character), Planet's, Coming Home... Hail To The King (Duke Nukem), Shepherd Of Fire (from COD: BO2), This Means War... Nuff said.
    OJ12
    if you mention acid rain as great and ignore coming home and crimson day this review...
    phidias13
    i agree , i just listened to Acid Rain a couple of times and i can't get into it, he also didn't mention Planets which is IMO the best track of the album.
    Holoogamooga
    Both songs grabbed my attention, but in the opposite way. I was sorely tempted to skip Planets, but I put Acid Rain on repeat for a while. To each his own.
    OJ12
    Acid rain is a good track and thats it no more. but if you see nightmare coe and wtf all ending with awesome tracks; save me, mia , and all things will end; this ending is too soft. Planets, awesome track. I dont have a favorite yet.
    I.shower.naked
    I really loved the album,but I think they should have put the emotion into the album as they did the bonus track, St. James.
    strat07
    what a lazy album
    sikorad15
    id like to see you make a album half as good as this. this album rocks!
    l0ld4v3
    "id like to see you make a album half as good as this. this album rocks!" This here shit makes no sense. Criticism and creativity are not the same thing.
    Scotican
    It's not about what we can do it's about their history and what we have come to expect from them. Just 'cause I don't like a film doesn't mean I am going to make a better one. Just cause I don't like a phone doesn't mean I am going to make a better one. They lost a lot when Rat Head passed away, he was clearly a huge contributer to the sound of their seven trumpets.
    Dxbanderson
    A bit too simple I think, especially the drumming. I know it's supposed to be grooving to fit the songs but I still feel like Arin could've done more with it. That being said there are some killer choruses and solos, and overall I still love it. Maybe tied 3rd with the self titled in my favourite albums from them, after Nightmare and City of Evil.
    iammclovin
    As much as I loved the other albums this new sound is killer, definitely my favourite by A7X. Well done lads!!
    Ciaranc944
    Just picked this up today, and I'm enjoying how different it is from their other stuff, as they could have easily coined a similar album to Nightmare and their massive hardcore fan base would have bought it anyway, so it's great to hear them experiment a bit!
    rudejude82
    This is the most bland, boring, generic album they have ever made. Missing the Rev driving and CHANGING the tempos. kinda reminds me of some 80s rock. Still dig A7X though last nights show here in LA was awesome! 5/10
    vash1990
    Why is this under metalcore still? This has got to be the furthest from a metalcore album they've done. Especially that Sounding the Seventh Trumpet is listed as heavy metal and only heavy metal?
    schecterhellraz
    Had pretty low expectations for this album after listening to the single... Now having bought it and given the rest of the album a chance to stand on its own, I have to say that I am quite impressed.. To sum it up.. Album >>> Single... (Which isn't too surprising)
    JD897X
    I don't want them to sound like other bands, however great the comparisons are. I want them to be Avenged Sevenfold. These guys were innovators, not imitators. Kinda sad about this album now.
    Macejko
    took the words right out of my mouth.... Shepherd of Fire is absolutely kick ass.. Hail to the King is also good one, but the rest of the album bored me to death... Im goin to give it another chance thou but I dunno..
    ihavetofindone
    sadly, they are the ones who mention metallica and pantera and iron maiden in each interview, comparing themselves to those bands
    Burnzyburns
    I liked Waking the Fallen, City of Evil and had a strange love for the self-titled album that I've never quite understood. But then I thought Nightmare was just a terrible album. I enjoyed almost nothing about that album, save the main riff from Natural Born Killer. Should I bother with this album?
    KoRnpirate
    I really think Nightmare is a very great album - am I the only one?
    RJDfan666
    You and me both. Can't stand A7X fanboys. "Nightmare was shit! blah blah blah, they need to do metalcore again cuzi t was teh br00tz blah blah blah"... Nightmare is my favorite to date, followed by Hail to The King. I was thrilled with how it turned out, being the classic metal fan I am.
    Maggot66
    I'm a hardcore A7X fan but I agree. I have a special place for all their albums but my most listened to ones and the ones I can 100% always listen to start to finish are Nightmare & Hail to the King. The self titled one also really hit home for me, but I never understood why people gave Nightmare so much hate, if anything it's the only album they did that stayed really true to the one before it.
    sideslick
    Save Me, Natural Born Killer, God Hates Us, and Fiction are all major standouts for me. I will always love their self-titled album for A Little Piece of Heaven, but Nightmare is definitely my favorite, looking at it as a whole.
    godisasniper
    Yeah, I really enjoy Nightmare, but the s/t album does a great job of showing off the Rev's songwriting and singing in a way that none of their other albums do, particularly on A Little Piece of Heaven.
    thes50
    I agree, while City of Evil has some of my favourite songs Nightmare had the higher standard of song in my opinion.
    henrihell
    without nightmare, welcome to the family and buried alive it would've been very good... those songs bring down the greatness of the whole album quite a lot.
    RJDfan666
    Well, about half of Nightmare is made up of tribute songs after The Rev died. On that note, "Save Me" is my absolute favorite A7X song. I think that song is amazing, and their best to date. But like someone said earlier, this new album s nothing like Nightmare. More straightforward and riff base.
    fanA7X6661
    Nightmare was actually just about all written when the Rev died. Gates even played So Far Away with the Rev; the song was originally written for Gates' grandpa. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to pick my favorite A7X song. I guess it's whatever song is playing.
    RicCartman
    That's not true at all. Musically it was all written. Lyrically only Nightmare and Danger Line were written as originally it was meant to be a concept album before Jimmy passed.
    sideslick
    Fiction was pretty much done just before The Rev passed. If I remember correctly, he actually played the piano on the recording.
    EpsilonX
    The album sounds to me most like City of Evil, but rather watered down. Everything is simplified and lacks the energy of City of Evil. All of the metalcore influence is gone too
    RealUnrealRob
    It's definitely not a return to form. It still doesn't have the major key sections that made a lot of the original stuff great. They lost a lot of their sound when the Rev passed.
    henrihell
    Don't bother with it. I absolutely love City Of Evil and also thought nightmare was bad. However, after hearing this I quite enjoy Nightmare actually...
    xmattmassacrex7
    This album is certainly not my favorite (their self titled is) but it is still a very solid album. Im a huge metallica fan and i love that this is much more old school sounding. I do miss the Avenged Sevenfold of old, but i like the new sound. You can tell its avenged sevenfold and you can tell that they have incorporated alot of old school metal elements to it. My personal favorite songs are This Means War, Crimson Day, and Shepard of Fire. Overall I give the album a 8.5 out of 10
    Tonyborbony
    I think this album is by far not their best work (though personal preference may play a part in that ). But it's not bad by a long shot! I really enjoyed this one save for one or two tracks.
    christos.kar.1
    this means war immediately brings to mind 'sad but true'...love the heaviness of this album...best since city of evil
    alees68851
    Sorry but this is a pretty bad review, doesn't tell us much about the album itself. There are some blistering riffs and solos all over the album, and there isn't a track i would skip.
    TrabenBassist22
    It's a pretty good album, I just wish there was a little more speed. There are a few moments where the tempo picks up but over all the songs all have a pretty slow feel to them.
    rokr258
    ...pretty terrible review. I've learned nothing about this record.
    leonie
    this is my favorite band, but i don't really like the album. i appreciate them to make something different though. just a few good songs, thats it. don't be a prejudgment just because you love these guys...
    MaidenRules95
    Certainly not their greatest, but I personally really like it. I prefer it over the self titled album as far as ratio of songs I don't like to songs I do. The drums are a bit on the simple side for my liking, but the more I listen to these songs the more I think that overly crazy drums may have ruined the grooves that some of the songs hold. Just my two cents.
    K!!LsWiTcH
    the black album wasnt as much of a sharp left turn as people like to believe. also, avenged are pretty ****ing adventurous, one of their hits (beast and the harlot, not my favorite at all but still) has sweep picking in its chorus and time changes all over the place. this being said didnt like the first song they released very much. not too interested
    fromzero
    No the black album wasn't AS big of a sharp left turn as they took AFTER it with Load / Reload which is what I think the reviewer meant.
    fenderfrenzy101
    I would honestly dock the lyrics down to a 5. They are awful. Nothing on the album is realistic. Its all fictional stories about demons and crusades. While I don't really mind a few songs being of that nature, releasing an entire album with that lyrical content gets reptatitve. I was curious as to how many times the word "demon" was used in this single record
    Vincentdrummer
    Love A7x and they delivered again with this great album! been playing it almost non-stop since the stream first opened. My favorite track has to be Heretic. There is just something about the lead guitar in the chorus that I am in love with.
    7SynysterxGates
    Man, who else is tired of people complaining about Arin's drumming? I sure am. The kid did a great job drumming. It actually fits the song! That's all that matters. This album is great. Yeah it is sad that the REV wasn't there to contribute but I am sure he would be VERY proud of this album. I am proud of it. It's nice that you guys have your opinions about your favorite album and the new drummer but THIS album, HAIL TO THE KING, is what matters. Nice review, very constructive. I give this album a 10 out of 10. (:
    xasq
    plain and generic radio music
    BwareDWare94
    They've been generic since self-titled, imo. Folks, there's a better metal album review on the home page. If you haven't heard of Devildriver, check them out.
    HardRock369
    A whole lotta meh, really disappointed overall. The drums sound completely uninspired and a pretty big part of their sound has always been the drums. Only really one or two songs that caught my attention. Not saying it's bad, just mediocre.
    J.Millzzzz
    i used to love them, but this album sucks. go ahead. downvote me. I liked them for their technicality, which is now gone
    l0ld4v3
    If I wanted to listen to the Black Album by Metallica, I'd listen to the Black ****ing Album by ****ing Metallica. Generic and bland, no bite, no balls, no nothing.
    fromzero
    considering the fact that you only have 4 down votes (atm)with such a bold statement on a topic that would most likely be checked up on by someone with at least a small interest in A7x is a good sign that even the fanboyest of fanyboy's somewhat agree.
    strat07
    Lol i love how every fanboy/girl excuses them for that shitty generic copycat album... LISTEN! I fallow A7X since pre-Waking The Fallen (which is ST7T - their most awesome album imo) Since City Of Evil shit went downhill. From an original and quite creative band they've become a cover/tribute band to Metallica/Megadeth/Pantera/GnR. CMON GUYS! This Means War = Sad But True... u guys deaf or smth?
    odie-man
    I streamed the album on itunes a few days ago, and I feel that it is the best yet. I believe that the thoughts and bad criticism people put towards the drum tracks are very biased, based to the fact that the band wanted a groove metal sound, and not complicated like what the REV had been capable of doing and did in many songs. Though the REV was on of the more talented of the band members, and without him, the band has made a major step. I congratulate them for what they have done here, and cant wait to get it.
    jaybrink10101
    Like nearly everyone else, I thought this was a weaker album than anything they've ever done. For starters - let me qualify that: I'm not saying it's blanket bad, it's just not as good. The songwriting structure is tired, Shadows vocals are distinctly less badass, there are less harmonies (from what I've heard), in other words basically every aspect of what turned them from a mediocre metalcore band to one of the best live/studio metal bands around with a huge following - the grooves, the experimentation, the harmonies,the Rev... So, whilst I respect an artist's need to move on and try new things, this wasn't the greatest move in this case, in my opinion. Then, Arin...we know he can drum, we know he can drum better than this, and we know that the band told him to sit down shut up and drum basic parts, but come on...there was definitely scope for some experimentation. I don't want Arin to become Jimmy Pt. 2, because that will just piss off the fans, but come one, we all know that he could have contributed more to the album than he did. Which is a criticism of the band, and not Arin.
    takenthecannoli
    ""Hail to the King" reminds of Metallica they might have sounded like if they didn't take that sharp left back at the "Black Album."" UG can't English
    WhiteSoundD
    Waking The Fallen > City Of Evil > Hail To The King > Avenged Sevenfold > Sounding The Seventh Trumpet > Nightmare
    Om_Bongo
    Oh great, yet another release using Slate samples. Makes a lot of recent releases sound the same.
    kill it
    Sounds to me like a band that wrote an album geared to increase fanbase numbers. It's not bad but sounds a bit contrived.
    keepitlow
    I'm surprised no one else is crazy about requiem! IMO,it's one of my favorites on the album with the sick groove in the verses!
    xrobbiexcakesx
    I'm with you, man haha it's definitely my favorite on the album, and absolutely love that interlude/middle part with the low speaking part.
    OJ12
    i dont know man, but sometimes i feel is missing something, but the riff is insane so badass.
    centermass
    I appreciate change and i do like these guys a lot but this is not a very good album on the first few spins anyway in my opinion. every other a7x album got my attention right from the get go and i was into it tilll the end but this one lacks that spark! it's amazing what the absence of one persons influence and writing skills can do to a bands chemistry! unfortunately there is nothing they can do about that but charge on. I hope the younger kids out there take note of that and quit with the god damn dope already! i hope this album grows on me im sure it will. it may also have something to do with the fact that its up against devildriver's winter kills which came out today also and i gotta say if heavy is what your looking for uhh look no further those dudes from santa barbara knocked it out of the FU@#ING park!