Sound — 9
This album is much different than the others that Avenged Sevenfold but it still has the distinguished sound of Avenged Sevenfold. The dual guitars and the unmistakable voice of M. Shadows. The drums are slowed down to match the album and I think it was a good decision based on the sound of the rest of the album. It fits very well. Arin can lay down some nasty beats, anyone who has seen them live in person can vouch for that he may not be Portnoy or The Rev, but he is a very good drummer in his own right and may one day be on the Portnoy level only time will tell. The sound of the overall effects are pleasing. The arrangements, bells on "Shepherd of Fire," and the choir on "Requiem." This album has a Metallica vibe but "Doing Time" has a Guns N' Roses vibe to me. Syn and Zacky's dual attack is still as good as ever. To me still one of the top if not the top guitar duo in Hard Rock/Metal today. Their combination has a tone that is very rarely matched or bested by a duo. That's just my opinion. I did expect some quicker lead intros though. "Hail to the King" (song) has probably the fastest lead at the intro point of any song on the album.
Lyrics — 10
M. Shadows is probably one of the most unique and talented singers in Metal today. He backs it up well live on stage. I've seen them a couple times live and he is always on point. "Doing Time" is the only song I actually heard a scream on, other than that it is a full sang album. The lyrics on the album are well written and I am extremely surprised at how well the are written considering The Rev had no actual lyrical additions like nightmare did. "St. James" is a bonus track but I'd say its a must. The slower songs are written beautifully lyrically.
Overall Impression — 9
I really do love this album so far I've listened fully to it probably 6 times to this point and I am very glad to see that they can write songs quite well on their own since the demise of the late great James Sullivan (Rev). He was a huge part of their sound. The only downside to this album is simply the fact that the album has so many similarities to Metallica. That's not a bad thing but I am already growing tired of the trash talking regarding that. When I first heard the song "Hail to the King" I thought the intro sounded a lot like the solo of Metallica's "King Nothing." It's a few notes different but a couple the same. I like the entire album it's hard to pick one but I really can't decide on a favorite.