Released: June 7, 2005
Reviewed by Scott Olivenbaum

For those that don’t keep up on the news, while touring for Waking The Fallen, the lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold, M. Shadows, underwent serious surgery to his vocal chords. Going under the knife changed everything for Shadows, and for A7X.

The music, which had been a scintillating crossover of hardcore, black and power metal, now sounds like a European power metal band fronted by Scott Weiland (of STP and Velvet Revolver). The change makes City of Evil, the follow up to Waking, a bit of a disappointment.

The guitars still bob and weave like Muhammad Ali in his prime, but the many-layered vocals wail, whine and plead. Gone are the powerful yet crisp screams and roars that drove home the range of emotions brought on by women, drugs and society. Fans of the hardcore aspects will be saddened but the lack of aggressive vocals has helped lend more credence to the melodies and could bring the band closer to the mainstream.

However, that does not mean that the band will get more radio play: the songs still log in at five minutes or more (four of the 11 are over seven minutes!). But M. Shadows’ vocals give fans more opportunities to sing along and should bring fans of Velvet Revolver into the fold. Unfortunately those same fans might get turned off by the technical tapping guitar solos that just go on and on and on throughout the album.

Much like the band’s last release, the production is top notch and the mix is nice and clean allowing for every element to be heard. To mix things up late in the album they throw in some Spanish-type acoustic guitars, pianos, small orchestra and backing choir. No elements seem out of place but they are not used to their potential: “The Wicked End” comes across as a cheap attempt to replicate Metallica’s “S&M”.

City of Evil is sure to garner some new listeners for A7X but it will certainly get screams of “sell out!” from disappointed fans. For first time listeners, catchy song like “Burn It Down” will make believers and in the long run, the band may be better off for it.

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