While it took Avenged Sevenfold a few years to get off the ground, the release of their 2003 sophomore album Waking The Fallen showcased a metalcore band that was fast developing. The leap from their debut album Sounding The Seventh Trumpet was a quantum leap as far as sound and musicianship were concerned, and were both equally impressive as well. If you listen to songs like “Chapter Four” and “Unholy Confessions”, it’s clear to see (and hear) why the band landed Warped Tour slots early on in their career – their brand of metalcore was easily palatable and marketable.
It’s with that being said that the band’s 2005 follow-up, City Of Evil, was the most successful Avenged Sevenfold record to date. Prior to its recording, the band triggered a pretty sizable bidding war from major labels, and A7X eventually went with Warner Bros. for the record’s release. Sporting a polished, streamlined sound that was closer to classic hard rock and metal, it signaled the band’s foray into a more commercial sound that was a departure from their previous work. It’s not hard to see why the Platinum-selling record made the band into stars, though.
The biggest departure on City Of Evil is vocalist M. Shadows’ vocal style. Channeling more classic metal vocals that didn’t require him to have the more abrasive style of their two previous albums, Shadows worked with vocal coach Ron Anderson to develop a style that would be a lot easier to handle.
City Of Evil is a metal album at its core, though. It has all the elements that you could want from a record like this, too. Guitar solos? Yeah, they’re everywhere – and prominent, too. Just listen to opening track “Beast And The Harlot” or “Burn It Down” for a couple examples. Shadows’ much improved voice? Sure, it’s all over the underrated “Sidewinder” and massive hit “Bat Country”. The great drumming of the late The Rev? He’s all over “Blinded In Chains” and “Strength Of The World”.
Of course, this was also the record where Avenged Sevenfold prominently introduced ballads, too. They managed to fit in the heartfelt, emotional “Seize The Day” right in the middle of the tracklist where it would be most effective – giving precedence to future songs like “Dear God”, too. However, the album isn’t dominated by them, either.
It’s also important to note that every song on this hour+ album is 4:59 or longer – yet for the most part, they don’t tend to wear out their welcome. Abstaining from a typical verse-chorus-verse structure, Avenged Sevenfold adeptly offer up variations of choruses, verses, and bridges in a way that many other bands simply can’t do. “Sidewinder” is a pretty good example of this, as there’s an acoustic guitar solo in between some impressive fretwork too.
City Of Evil is a strong contender for Avenged Sevenfold’s best album. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of the obviously more streamlined production and direction the band headed in after this, it’s simple to hear why it catapulted the band into stardom. City Of Evil is a modern metal record that is intelligent – and most of all – fun.