Hail to the king?
A few months ago, I picked up the most recent Avenged Sevenfold album, Hail to the King. I gave it a good listen, and must say that I wasn’t impressed. Their previous albums were kick ass, with heavy riffs, awesome drumming, and killer vocal hooks. This album just seemed to be missing….something. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that this is the first album that the Rev didn’t collaborate on or not, but something definitely changed. I put it on the back burner, and left it alone for awhile.
About a week or two ago, I started listening to it again, since I forgot much of the album and couldn’t remember why I disliked it. I’d been listening to a lot of Maiden recently, newer Maiden that is, and that’s when it hit me. The new A7X sounded a LOT like newer Maiden. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, in my opinion, and I’ll explain why.
First of all, I’d like to start by saying that Iron Maiden is, and has always been, my favorite band. I’ve seen them a dozen times, both with Bruce and with Blaze, I own every album legally, and easily half of my tee shirts are Maiden shirts. I have so many shirts that I cycle them out in a yearly rotation. I love most of their albums, but some are really not that great, and one is downright horrible (Yes, I’m looking at you Virtual XI). There’s a history to follow here, and I’ll sum it up as best I can. Bruce Dickinson, their singer, came on board in the early 80’s to replace Paul DiAnno, who sang on the first 2 records. He reigned until the late 90’s, when he left the band to pursue a solo career, which released some amazing albums. They replaced him with Blaze Bailey, who wasn’t a bad singer, but he wasn’t a true replacement for Bruce. He did 2 albums with them, and in the early 2000’s they welcomed Bruce back and started cutting new records with him again.
The first of these was Brave New World, which is fucking incredible. Then they did Dance of Death, which was also pretty awesome. The next one, A matter of life and death, was a big step down IMHO, and much of it was wholly forgettable. Their latest, The Final Frontier, was kinda meh as well. I know many Maiden fans will disagree with me, but trust me, I’d like nothing more than to absolutely LOVE these albums. I think the problem is that Steve Harris, the bassist and main songwriter, has run out of ideas. Many of the riffs are recycled, taking older riffs and changing them slightly for a new song. This breaks my heart, since I’d rather they end off on a high note, rather than slowly sink into mediocrity. They still put on a fucking phenomenal show, and are incredible musicians, but the songwriting is getting tired and worn, and it’s showing.
Now, back to Sevenfold. I feel the Maiden their new album sounds like it sort of a mix between Dance of Death and A Matter of Life and Death. It’s not full of wicked hooks that kick your face in, it’s more like very subtle parts that eventually grow on you. Sometimes this is a good thing, and after listening to it for a few days I must say that I do like the album a lot. It’s just a noticeable change of pace from a band who has consistently been kicking me in the face (in a rather pleasant way) for the better part of a decade. If you didn’t like it at first, give it a few more listens. You might end up really enjoying it, or you might hate it just as much and then blame me for the extension to your agony and disappointment. Either way, you gotta admit, it certainly isn’t worse than the last Disturbed album, Asylum. Boy, did THAT suck.
As for Maiden, I do hope they freshen things up and get struck with some new inspiration, but I fear that Harris is too set in his ways as a songwriter to recapture that magic from the 80’s and 90’s. He still has his moments, but they only seem to last a few songs instead of entire albums. Regardless of that, though, I’ll always buy their albums and listen to them, because even their bad albums are still better than 80% of the other shit that gets released these days.