What a difference a decade makes. If you too are someone who swore off Avenged Sevenfold after the leave-nothing-out clutterfest that was 2003's Waking the Fallen, then it may be time for a rethink - Hail to the King shows just how much can be missed by not giving bands a second chance.
My, how they've grown. From start to finish the songs are more muscular and memorable; the ratio of schlock to virtuosity is just right and the riffage has the rejuvenating properties and drudgery-busting power that the best of metal offers. In the aptly-titled Doing Time Avenged Sevenfold have an anthem that ranks with anything from the sleaze heyday of the 1980s and while Shepherd of Fire and This Means War owe plenty to Enter Sandman and Sad But True from Metallica's Black Album, the temptation to chest beat in time along to both is tough to resist. (Given that Metallica's biggest single had a bit in common with West Coast hardcore outfit Excel's Tapping into the Emotional Void and Finnish band Stone's Get Stoned perhaps this is black (album) karma at work.)
Indeed, just like Metallica's Black Album the cover of Hail to the King is a non-event, there are two phones-aloft ballads amidst the mayhem and the feeling of a colossus unleashed on the world is just the same. Hopefully the kids left awestruck in its wake will tunnel back to discover the classics of yesteryear that inspired this record - once they get their breath back.