Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold (2007)

Warner Bros.

Avenged Sevenfold were the bees' knees with a handful of hardcore and metal fans when the band unleashed their seemingly tongue-in-cheek sophomore LP in 2003, Waking the Fallen. The ballads; the `80s hair metal nods; the over-the-top imagery; the terrible Hot Topic-fan-worship music video -- it had to be a bit sardonic, at least...right?. But then the band jumped to Warner shortly after the album's release and put out their major label debut in the form of a third-rate Guns 'N Roses worship collection, alienating 99% of their previous fanbase when we realized they were serious and they simultaneously started proudly flying Republican colors.

Their grandiosely whitespace-covered self-titled album only sends Avenged Sevenfold into more hated territory by the aforementioned, but some of it's rather justified. While Avenged Sevenfold tones down on some of the blatant G'NR nods, it's still full of overly cheesy attempts at M. Shadows' nasal singing/sneering, guitars that, while interesting and complex, aren't nearly as impressive as the one redeeming quality they offered 2005's City of Evil, and mostly forgettable songs blending styles in convoluted manners.

It's not all muck, though. "Almost Easy" has an admittedly enjoyable chorus. "Brompton Cocktail" sounds reminiscent of when the band were at their peak. Opener "Critical Acclaim" comes off mildly vague in its attacks and reeks of weak tough-guy posturing, but the band is rather unapologetic and unabashed in their right-wing stance ("self-righteousness is wearing thin (lies inside your head your best friend) / heart bleeds but not for fellow men (broken glass your reflection) / I've had enough / It's time for something real / I don't respect the words you're speaking / gone too far / a clone"). If nothing else, they're standing their ground firmly.

But really, the status quo often is "nothing else." A dramatic string section outpouring on "Afterlife" sounds like a forced attempt at reaching the level of the orchestral metal moments of their influences. "Unbound (The Wild Ride)" dabbles in fluttering piano, a cheeseball gospel choir and one section handled by a child singing; it makes the Clash's Sandinista!-era "Career Opportunities" sound like "Another Brick in the Wall." However, "A Little Piece of Heaven" really takes the cake -- it's an eight-minute carnivallike clusterfuck, full of "dark" strings, Shadows overeager -- albeit diverse -- vocal fronting, random mood swings, choir, a brass section and lots of cringeworthy moments ("I know it's not your time / but bye bye"); it'd be great for a Tim Burton movie, but the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack doesn't get many listens around these parts. Then there's the curveball closer, "Dear God," which rolls by with some country ballad twang; the band's Nickel-backers and trucker contingency might be stoked.

Self-titled albums are supposed to make a statement for bands, but Avenged Sevenfold speak with bizarre ambition and drastic miscues, taking risks with admirable abandon but ultimately failing to make a hard impact.

Critical Acclaim