3/10Why do I punish myself? Why do I think that just as mock-gothic-metal-hybrid album from Avenged Sevenfold pops up again, I think that just maybe they will strike gold and do something competent? Well, it has happened, like, once. Their self-titled, self-produced and whimsically indulgent, was actually a record that held back the post-hardcore ramblings for something a little deeper. For one reason or the other, I got an itch to talk a little about the group’s latest almost catastrophic mess, Hail to the King. For whatever it is worth, this thing is actually a bit better than their last album Nightmare which was quite a nightmare to listen to. It was not one of those situations where I thought ‘How could they have gone so far off?” but one of distress: why are they still doing this and why are people listening?’

You can defend Avenged Sevenfold all day long, but nothing changes the fact that their pop-metal blend is uninspiring and bland. It must be said up front. Deceased drummer The Rev was indeed quite a competent and unique drummer, and his replacement for this release, Arin ILejay, has a hard time matching up. But the drumming is not a major issue, or even a minor one. Because everything is so uninteresting and trivial, the drumming is just one of those little things that seem irrelevant in the big picture. When the solos are as mind-fumblingly unnerving and the vocals of Mr. M Shadows so unpleasant, you never get time to even get to the drums for any sort of critical reviewing.

I think the greatest issue with Hail to the King is that the hocky horror-metal elements are just comical. Iron Maiden implemented amazing visuals to their repertoire, and seemed to do it so much more genuinely. Honestly, Avenged Sevenfold have always seemed to follow the sensibilities of Iron Maiden in many ways. But it comes down to this: Iron Maiden can right great songs and Avenged Sevenfold can’t. When you have bad songwriting, it is amazing how less genuine, inspired, and interesting EVERYTHING becomes. Who gives a damn about the lyrics when the rhythms are so appalling? Can M Shadows sound good over loathsome poppy

This is the curse of Avenged Sevenfold. Give me a reason to care, by making interesting music. The title track here runs on a recycled riff from the drecks of the pop-metal bargain bin. This Means War is another fucking power ballad with enough double bass beatings to pop an eardrum. Heretic is actually quite intriguing, because it manages an actual likable hook. Image that on a pop-metal album!

On a final song note, I actually enjoyed Coming Home quite a bit. Unfortunately, it has already been written about 17 times. It is a glorified cover.

This album reminds me a bit of the pairing of Load and Reload from Metallica.  It is a band trying to create just cool and fun hard rock. But their utter lack of coolness and utterly restrained songwriting ability makes the songs no more appealing then as very very surface level metal for thirteen year olds.

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