By Bob Nalbandian

City OF Evil
Warner Bros.

Although very rare, but every now and again you'll find a major label A&R exec that will pull his head out of his corporate ass and actually have the balls to sign a talented, viable rock band. This is certainly the case with Warner Bros. recording artist Avenged Sevenfold. This signing was long overdue and is about time this onslaught of corporate, talent-less shit-rock such as Hawthorne Heights, My Chemical Romance, Trapt, Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy, and countless others, comes to an end. Although Avenged Sevenfold might fit the corporate profile image-wise of today's nu-rock band - they're all very young and covered in tattoos and face piercing - musically they are far superior than the hoards of modern-rock bands being force fed to the ignorant music-buying public. Although the band hail from Orange County (I was surprised to hear of such a great new band from my old hometown of Huntington Bch) Avenged Sevenfold play European-style metal. Blending traditional power metal, progressive metal, and at times, neo-classical metal with a modern punk-rock attitude and a hint of late '80s Hollywood sleaze rock, Avenged Sevenfold are one of the best new major label signings to come about in quite some time. The band formed in '99 when they were still in high school and released their independent debut Sounding the Seventh Trumpet two years later followed by the 2003 release Walking The Fallen. Those albums, which leaned a bit more toward death metal, quickly gained the band international recognition which later earned them a slot on this last Warped Tour as a main-stage act. Warner Bros. quickly snatched the band up and released their current third album City Of Evil. With a much slicker sound and production (yet still very raw and heavy) and toned down vocals from M. Shadows, this band is surely heading for success. Shadows sings incredibly well throughout this disc providing fantastic harmonies and wailing like there's no tomorrow without exerting those nauseous death-metal growls as he did on the previous records. The band clearly shows strong influence of European metal sounding very similar to the new breed of Scandinavian and German metal bands. Traces of Maiden, Helloween and even Rising Force shine through in their music. The triple guitar threat of Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates and The Reverend is stellar! Blazing leads and soaring guitar harmonies atop ball-busting speed metal riffs are brandished throughout City Of Evil, yet it is done very tastefully without the self-indulgent, inappropriate guitar shredding that was over-abundant in the late '80s. Some of the highlights include the opener "Beast And The Harlot," their video track "Bat Country," and the melodic-metal tracks "Betrayed" and "Seize The Day." Also included are impressive 8-9 minute epics like "Strength Of The World" and "MIA." A great sign that the band isn't willing to sell out to the corporate pressure of a major label. I can really see this band making a huge impact here in the states as they have the talent and musical technicality to impress the fans of Euro-style prog-metal yet they add just enough modern commercial flair to their music and image to break into the American market. It will be interesting to see where this band goes from here.


Described as Black Sabbath meets death metal, this Madison, WS based band of bong-sucking sludgaholics offer a unique twist on modern-day stoner-rock. The music is textbook fuzz-induced plagiarized Sabbath riffs heard a million times before but the vocals are full-on Morbid Angel/Eyehategod death-indulged mutter. The question is can this band appease both the black/death metal and stoner rock fans without offending either? (It's come to my knowledge that many fans of stoner/sludge metal despise today's death metal). Although interesting and unique, it just doesn't work for me.

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