Wednesday, December 10, 2003 @ 5:19 PM
- advertisement -
Black T-Shirts? Check.
Spooky Cover Art? Check.
Tour with “cool” band like Mushroomhead? Check.
Inclusion on numerous video game soundtracks? Check.
I should hate Avenged Sevenfold. After all, they look sort of like AFI, and the mainstream press has been all over this band like a blister on the vagina of a two-dollar whore. These days, it seems that whenever Rolling Stone, Blender and Spin -- or any other magazine that actually deems Radiohead a substantive musical force -- condescends to cover metal these days, it’s usually to either heap praise on The Darkness or give props to Avenged Sevenfold for incorporating guitar solos into their songs as if that alone is enough to successfully meet all criteria required to be considered an authentic metal musician. Hell, most of the mainstream rags actually consider St. Anger to be a “return to the classic brutal, Metallica sound.” That being the case, it was still sort of interesting to hear of a band traveling around on the Warped Tour armed only with a box of black eye makeup and a repertoire of tunes typically logging in at six minutes or more in length.
The festivities on this disc begin with the sonic backdrop of “Waking the Fallen,” which thumps eerily along with dissonant lyrics imploring the listener to “Wake the ones and rise tonight.” This minute and forty-two seconds of moody atmosphere set the stage for the vibrant pulsing ache that is “Unholy Confessions.” M. Shadows’ vocals tend to be most effective when he actually sings rather than falling into a type of new metal or hardcore squall because when given a chance, songs like this one truly display many of the old school metal constructs wherein the chorus is the focal part of the selection. When the elements of classic metal sensibilities are adhered to by the group and combined with their Maidenish guitar work, it truly does become possible to transcend the appearance of the band and actually take the music for what it is—a successful experimentation in expression that, although not perfect, is at least a lot more interesting that most of the other newer bands currently appealing to the mall rock aesthetic.
“Chapter Four” and “Remenissions” have to be considered two of the strongest tracks on Waking the Dead due to their proficient display of Avenged Sevenfold’s strengths. The drumming and axe playing provide the perfect backdrop for lyrics about desperation, skeletons, murder and vengeance, which have always been staples of metal imagery since its inception. The screaming is generally downplayed and shouldn’t distract listeners to the point where they can’t concentrate and appreciate the intricate six-string artwork of Synyster Gates. All of this culminates in the epic, sprawling two part ode to suicide and its after-affects, “I Won’t See You Tonight” Parts 1+2, which contains about fourteen minutes of some of the best metal angst and theatricality attempted on a release this year.
“Clairvoyant Disease” combined with “And All things Will End” bring the disc to a close in the tightest possible way and should serve as a testament to this band whose virtuosity is to be respected even if their execution is somewhat flawed by the occasional inclusion of newer metal or the clumsier aspects of hardcore. If Avenged Sevenfold ever decides they want to simply play traditional metal minus all the fashionable trappings, they have definitely proved that they have the feel and instrumentality to do so. Besides, growing old and flourishing in metal is still actually possible today whereas remaining relevant to the Madden 2004 playing youth of today is probably an exercise in futility—long live guitar solos and heavy metal balladry… and black mascara.
* * 3/4