Review: Avenged Sevenfold’s Hail to the King

Band: Avenged Sevenfold
Album: Hail to the King
Genre: Rock
Release Date: August 23, 2013
Standout Tracks: “Hail to the King,” “Heretic,” and “Acid Rain”
There is no way I can do a review of an Avenged Sevenfold album without letting my fan status come in. It’s just not possible. I have loved this band since 2005. Everything about them is amazing. However, despite being a bit biased, I still think I am able to be fair and honest about their latest release, Hail to the King.
The Orange County natives have earned new fans with each successive album, and this time is no different. Hail to the King is much more simple and straightforward than what they usually do, which a lot of people enjoy. It is undoubtedly a great rock album, but not Avenged’s best. I do not intend this to be an insult; I am simply partial to City of Evil.
I have never before heard Avenged sound so much like their influences. There have always been bits and pieces of Metallica, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin, etc. However, I have never been able to listen to a song and immediately say “This sounds just like [insert song title here] by [insert band name here].” On this album, I was able to do that on multiple tracks. Again, this is not an insult. I’m just not used to that on an Avenged Sevenfold record.
Front man Matt Sanders, aka M. Shadows, really rocked it this go-around. His vocals were better and stronger than ever, especially on the title track and “Acid Rain.” And while less complex than what the band normally comes out with, I really enjoyed the fun groove-oriented music the band created.
Lastly, I have to note that “Acid Rain” is literally one of the best songs Avenged has ever done. It’s so different from their other stuff, and we all know how the band is constantly changing. The song hints at a direction Avenged could head on the next album.
I see a lot of potential in this lineup. The loss of drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan in 2009 was a devastating one, but I believe that newcomer Arin Ilejay is not beyond his depth here. This album was his introduction to how the band does things and a chance for him to get settled in. I feel that he did not show all he has to offer…yet. But I am sure there is much more to Mr. Ilejay than we have seen.
As I said, the album is great overall, though it is easy to tell that they are having to learn how to play with a new member. There are specific tracks–“Heretic” and “Acid Rain,” for example–that make me very confident in Avenged Sevenfold’s future. The guys are going to be fine, and I couldn’t be happier about that.