Spin #33 : Avenged Sevenfold : Hail To The King
Musicians on Album: M. Shadows (Lead vocals), Synyster Gates (Lead guitar, backing vocals), Zacky Vengeance (Rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Johnny Christ (Bass guitar, backing vocals) and Arin Ilejay (Drums/percussion)
Avenged Sevenfold : Hail To The King Year Released : 2013 Produced by Mike Elizondo Label: Warner Records Price Range: $50+AUD Speed: 33 1/3 RPM Album Before : Nightmare (2010) Album After : The Stage (2016) Further Listening : Three Days Grace - Life Starts Now (2009) LP : 2 x black LP Mood for enjoying: This record should be spun on a night where you want to have some hard rock blaring through your speakers or headphones. So many sing along moments, shred moments and overall positivity that comes from listening along. Maybe one to have on as the warmer nights are approaching. Track Listing:
LP 1 Side A
Shepherd Of Fire - 5:25
Hail To The King - 5:06
Doing Time - 3:27
This Means War - 6:09
Requiem - 4:23
Crimson Day - 4:58
Heretic - 4:56
Coming Home - 6:26
Planets - 5:57
Acid Rain - 6:40
What's in the Sleeve ? 2 x black LP in a gatefold, Skullbat image across the centrefold and lyric insert included
"Don't you see I am your pride, Agent of wealth, Bearer of needs and you know it's right. I am your war, Arming the strong, Aiding the weak. Know me by name, Shepherd of Fire" ~Shepherd of Fire -Side A
Welcome to Spin #33 - Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King
Welcome to R'nR With Rylo, if you have found yourself reading this page then you have come to the right place. Here at R'nR it's about finding time to relax and take a bit of 'you' time. For us here, that means putting on a record from our collection and writing about our experience. After the hardbop beats of last week's spin, this week I have selected the hard rock sounds of Avenged Sevenfold's album 'Hail To The King' for our 33rd Spin. Grab yourself a stiff drink (or cuppa) and come on a journey this week with the guys from Huntington Beach, California.
For this Spin I have used our set up in the loungeroom (Sherwood Turntable PM-9805 and Sherwood Receiver RX-4508). The 4 x Sherwood bookshelf speakers provide a decent range of sound without needing bass heavy speakers. This type of music is right on the cusp of what is heavy without being too heavy for my wife, Night Kat Kiz and the children.
Johnny Christ, Arin Ilejay, M.Shadows, Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance
Drop the Needle (of course means place the stylus nicely on your wax):
I don't remember exactly where I was when I stumbled across Avenged Sevenfold but the first song that I heard was called 'Critical Acclaim'. Now that song is not on this album but from there I was hooked and had to start collecting and listening to as much A7X as I could. This is one band that I have promised myself to go see if they ever tour in Australia and I would probably end up taking my wife and children (if old enough). They have built up quite a following and have so many great songs in their back catalogue. When I heard 'Shepherd of Fire' on a guitar hero game, I recognised the vocals straight away and realised that they had dropped another album - 'Hail To The King'. I don't really know what other band to compare them with, as a whole, but if you like hard songs musically with empowering lyrics to sing along with then you will enjoy this week's choice.
As I place the stylus on the outer grooves of the record, it becomes a hypnotising & cathartic experience that I'm certain other record lovers can relate with. The first sounds that you hear on opening track, 'Shepherd Of Fire' is in fact the bells tolling and fire. A lot of people mistake the sound first heard for the sound of rain. This track was written purposefully as an album opener and you can tell just by the first moments. The bells are coming through our speakers so clearly and makes you feel, as the listener, that you are being taken somewhere. Your mind is a powerful thing and while I'm listening along, I feel like there is a strong imagery around the room. I recommend that you close your eyes on this track. Gates and Vengeance then add to that imagery before the hard hits and rawness of Ilejay brings the song to life. Christ on the bass is really clear and before the vocals of Shadows comes in, you can hear every instrument so clearly. The mixing on this track doesn't hide anything and gives each member their time to shine. Lyrically, I like the chorus a lot and I have chosen it as the featured lyrics just above the photo of the band. The song fades out like the introduction fades in, with drums, overlay of horns and the sound of fire. I remember listening to this song for the first time and thinking, "Wow, if the opener is this good I hope the rest of the album is too". Well, keep listening with me and we will find out if it keeps up with the high standards set on 'Shepherd of Fire'.
The lead single off the album by the same name, 'Hail To The King' starts with a guitar riff by Gates that demands your attention. The riff is influenced by jazz guitar with a very metal twist and used to great effect. 'Hail To The King' is about stepping back for a moment and questioning the big picture. Whether that be your belief in Heaven and Hell or who is running your country and are they doing a good job?. When I hear this song, I imagine a stage covered by darkness and ever so slowly, spotlights turning on above each individual band member as they begin to play one by one. The drums of Ilejay really shine on this track and I didn't realise that this was the first album he performed on after the death of Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan. As this one is playing, I am looking at the cover artwork of the warrior king sitting on his throne. With the way the song is structured and the guitar work, this one reminds me a lot of the 70's Zeppelin, Sabbath style. 'Hail to the King' is such an easy one to sing along with and the chorus would sound awesome at a concert with thousands of people chanting along. If you get a chance, you should check out their live clips online (click here)
Third song on the album is called 'Doing Time' which begins with Shadows laughing as the guitars and drums build around his vocals until we are hit with a very catchy riff that cries out for you to sing along. The lyrics are discussing that everyone is doing their time within their own mind or they are incarcerated somewhere, "Had enough of opinions, I got enough on my mind. Sell your soul for approval and a dollar, Got a pretty little body to grind". The song ends and it's time to flip over the Long play for Side B.
Now before you hear the songs on Side B, just think Metallica, 'And Justice For All' or 'Black Album' for inspiration. At first listen I really did think that I was listening to off cuts from that era of Metallica. Very bass heavy and I can imagine Ilejay hitting the kit as hard as Lars Ulrich would be. This is by no means a criticism as I really think Side B has some very strong tracks. It is also very easy to sing along with and I enjoy the lyrics, "I left me long ago, Reasons you'll never know, No one to miss me when I'm gone, With no more words to say, No argument to stay, Another post I don't belong". If you are a bassist on this track, it is one that you would be in the low metal stance with legs wide apart and the dirtiest bass face you can imagine. Just when you think the track is winding up, it goes into another verse of riffing and Shadows singing his heart out. They just sound like they are having fun whilst making their records and it shows in the quality of their work. Whatever they release in the future, if we have the funds, I will be purchasing.
The sounds of 'Requiem' fill the room and it feels like something the band Ghost would release. The Latin singing by a choir at the start of this track works well before the chugging guitars of Gates and Vengeance take centre stage. I like the slower vocal pace of 'Requiem' as it gives you a chance to focus on all the instruments being heard. Let me know in the comments below or on our social pages what you are thinking of 'Hail to the King' so far. I like the lyrics of, "Darkest Lord, Your mercy shall I gain, Strike the match, Engulf the Earth in flames".
The first LP is coming to an end with the spoken word laid over the orchestral arrangement. Probably a track on the record that isn't given as much credit as it deserves. Make sure you go and take a toilet break or grab yourself a drink before you lift the stylus and swap LP 1 for LP2.
The soft sounds of 'Crimson Day' filter through the speakers in the loungeroom and instantly feels acoustic (in a sense). There is just the sound of Gates' guitar and Shadows voice. It is similar in feeling to a ballad from Metallica or Ozzy Osbourne from their 80's or 90's records. It has an uplifting and sombre tone to the song throughout that gives the listener a melancholy feeling. At least that's what I felt when I was listening along to 'Crimson Day'. I like the lyrics of, "I've been wrong, time's over and I've been shamed with no words to find. But if the sun will rise, bring us tomorrow, Walk with me, Crimson day". The guitar work towards the end of this song is used to great effect and made me want to lift the stylus to take a minute and re-listen straight away.
If the last few songs have had a Metallica-esqe sounding structure, then this next song, 'Heretic' is straight up Megadeth! This song picks up the pace and heaviness after the ballad of 'Crimson Day' and makes me want to tap along with drum sticks. Gates must have listened to a lot of 80's Megadeth before deciding on this riff (it is killer). If you haven't heard much from Metallica or Megadeth then you need to do yourself a favour and buy their records too. 'Hail to the King' came out in a very testing year for me and I did listen to it quite a bit throughout my studies. Some days were physically hard and others were mentally challenging but I did find some balance by listening to this one. 'Heretic' has a softer end as Shadows is pleading with the listener, "Please, don't leave me, Please, don't leave me like this
I've walked a fragile line and I've fallen down, Please, don't leave me".
Last song on Side C is the strong sing-a-long track, 'Coming Home'. Even with the upbeat or slower songs on this record, you can tell that A7X have challenged themselves to remain heavy and dark where they can. I loved the drumming on this one by Ilejay and it did remind me of the storytelling of a Iron Maiden song where you would have Bruce Dickinson getting you to scream for him. At the moment it feels like it will be getting heavier, it balances itself with Shadows singing, "Live again, all roads end, I'll be coming home. Tend your light 'cause on this night, I'll be coming home". As the song comes to an end it is time to flip LP2 and drop the stylus on Side D.
Had a nice moment with our son where he put a blanket over himself and was "booing" like a little ghost would. As he was walking around the front room he managed to walk into the book case. Night Kat Kiz and I heard him say, "urgh" and then he continued with his booing. I wish I could capture all these moments but this blog is one way we can look back on their childhood. Our daughter has been a real trooper lately with fevers and in tough situations, that is when you find out what you are made of.
As Side D starts, you can hear the driving and focused sound of 'Planets' comes through the 4 x Sherwood speakers and really fills the room with a haunting sound. It's well paced and Christ, Gates and Vengeance keep the riffing chugging along with the consistently terrific kick drumming of Ilejay. I can imagine this track played live with Shadows singing "When Planets, collide" as Gates melts some faces in the front row. Whilst listening to this song I am just thinking of our children. They are so funny and it will be a nice moment when they are older to tell them what kind of music they loved as a baby/toddler. 'Planets' has a nice use of horns and feels like the track that you'd hear, as the antagonist in the battle scene, has used all of his energy to survive an epic fight.
The piano intro on the last song on the record, 'Acid Rain', was a nice surprise that adds to the overall theme A7X have tried to create. Shadows is singing softly and it really feels like the battle is over and us as listeners can just enjoy one last song by the Californians. This track was carefully written as an album closer and they pull it off superbly. Definitely a track that will be played over and over as it is just too good. The best bands always seem to have the right balance of heavy songs and ballads and A7X have nailed it with 'Hail to the King'. I like how when this track ends there is a good 40-50 seconds of a storm and rain to calm your mind.
I really do hope that you enjoyed our 33rd Spin here at R'nR with Rylo this week and get a chance to add A7X, 'Hail to the King' to your collection. We have been finding some more time lately to put together some ideas for next podcast episode. Hopefully very soon we will be able to record and upload for you all to listen but until then make sure to let us know what you thought of this weeks spin. Night Kat Kiz has been getting really stuck into her vege/herb gardening lately and teaching our children so much. I think our son really enjoys helping her and we will be building the garden beds for the front yard very soon now that we have a fence.
Until our next Spin, be Kind to all as you never know who is doing it tough and be Kind to your Wax!