Avenged SevenfoldFormed in 1999, Avenged Sevenfold has now released their first self-titled album and fourth overall. Though they began as more of a heavy metal/metalcore band, they’ve since moved away from the sensibilities that gave them their start and approached a slightly lighter sound, beginning with their last album City of Evil and continuing with the new self-titled release.

Lead singer M. Shadows showcases his screaming capabilities as well as a slightly more mellifluous tone in a few tracks, though it’s clear where his true talent lies. In a few songs, such as the guitar showcase “Lost,” an interesting produced sound to his voice occasionally pops up that’s reminiscent of some of the country songs that Kid Rock did a few years ago.

The melodic borderline-country song “Gunslinger” will draw in more mainstream listeners with its light acoustic guitar and only occasional vocal outbursts, but might turn off true metalheads, as will the slower “Dear God,” which is basically a straight-up southern rock country song throughout. The most experimental and interesting song on the album, though is A Little Piece of Heaven, which sounds like an eight-minute solo sung by a more hardcore version of Jack the Pumpkin King from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Surrounded by a slightly cartoony musical backdrop, an epic story of murder, revenge and love unfolds, ending in a duet with female vocalist Juliette Commagere.

If nothing else, Avenged Sevenfold is not afraid of taking chances. Each song on the album feels like a slightly different band and in the current musical marketplace of individual song selection, Avenged Sevenfold is the ideal display for selective picking and choosing: listeners can go after the accessible rock tunes or stick to the harder, heavier music the band is known for (such as “Critical Acclaim”). Either way, there’s something for everyone, even those who enjoy a good eight minute Tim Burton inspired love story.

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: An experimental exploration of hard rock, country and Danny Elfman
Stay Away if: Too much musical variation on one album confuses you

To purchase Avenged Sevenfold, visit Amazon
For more information on Avenged Sevenfold, including tour dates, visit their homepage

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