M. Shadows has steadily left the screaming vocals behind and turned to singing vocals which turned the band into a new (better if I say so myself) direction. The band took a deep blow when The Rev passed away in 2009 as they were writing material for Nightmare. The Rev was a great creative force in the band but the band dealt with his death very well as they continued to work on the record. They got top notch drummer Mike Portnoy to record the album and tour with them (one of The Rev’s idols). And they shot to the top. The album was a great success and considered one of their best.
Hail to the King is the first album to be written without any input from The Rev and Arin Ilejay was recruited as the band’s permanent drummer. He also contributed to the writing on this record. It is noticeable that the drums on this album are fairly simplistic, not like their older material, it was what the band wanted out of Arin on this album and to put his true style of playing on pause but only for the moment.
When listening to this album you’re reminded of old school metal like in the 80’s. Influences of bands such as Iron Maiden and Metallica are evident on the album.
While many argue that some tracks are just plain rip offs of old metal tracks, like ‘This is War’ is stolen from Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’, it is not the case. As I said earlier, the influence is clear such as the song structure perhaps but nothing on this album was a complete rip off as nothing was identical to any other bands’ material.
Many bands write whole albums and admit that it’s a tribute to a certain band(s) and when you hear the record, you can instantly tell who influenced this particular track. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the artist ripped off another artist. For example in Muse’s last album, The 2nd Law, a track like ‘Panic Station’ is clearly influenced by Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’.
The album kicks off with a very Metallica-like track ‘Shepard of Fire’ and this pretty much gives you an idea how the rest of the album is going to be like; heavy old school metal with some ear shredding solos. Vengeance and Gates both perform some ear shredding solos and rhythms, and Shadows’ vocal performance is just outstanding on all of the tracks be it a heavy or mellow ballad. It’s clear that Shadows has greatly improved since all of the band’s previous work and proved that he can perform a wide range of vocals which separates A7X from many other metal bands that lack this element.
Although this album is very different from older A7X material, it’s a great album that takes you back to old metal days. Metal and Sevenfold fans will all find tracks to their liking.
Reviewed by: Shereen G.