It's always interesting when a band decides to go it alone and produce and record an album after years of recording with a variety of producers. Sometimes it's almost the better road to take since who understands a band's vision more than the band itself? Producers though can often help congeal these ideas and offer great amounts of insight. Avenged Sevenfold, who have been heroes of the underground scene made it huge with their last album "City of Evil". With the follow up, the band takes matters into their own hands and creates an amazing album that throws you off kilter a few times but is still quite enjoyable.
Avenged Sevenfold have been known for their heavy riffing and over the top sound, and with "City of Evil" catchy vocal hooks due to M. Shadows' need to lay off the full on screams. On their new self titled album, the band sounds better than ever but a little more haywire. The album itself is chock full of hooky choruses and anthems and surprisingly enough a Country song and a song that sounds like Russian folk music. The album kicks into gear with a nice section of pipe organs on "Critical Acclaim" which then launches into a typical blazing Avenged Sevenfold song. The song also goes to show the many different things M. Shadows can do with his voice and that his screams are still very, very present and brutal.
Following close behind is the album's first single "Almost Easy" which more or less sets the tone for the rest of the album. Lots of chugging, churning guitars and some awesome drum work by The Reverend. All the songs on the album are potential singles for their very accessible lyrics and choruses. Things start to get interesting on "Gunslinger" when the band changes gears and moves to a more old school Bon Jovi sound. Things go back to blazing songs after "Gunslinger" until the two finals pieces of the album, "A Little Piece of Heaven" and "Dear God".
Not to worry, the band hasn't turned Christian and given up their lifestyles. " Piece of Heaven" is the aforementioned Russian folk song. It's a little reminiscent of the sound of My Chemical Romance's "Mama". I don't mean to compare those two bands, but it's a very similar style. "Dear God" is just a straight up Country ballad, and it's good enough that if it were a single it could do well on Rock charts and crossover to the Country charts. It sounds a little too similar at times to Fastball though, which is just weird. Even though I praise bands for going it alone and changing their sound, this is one of the cases were a producer could have helped make the album.
Avenged Sevenfold TBT