Groundbreakers: City of Evil turns 10
The end of days has come, dwellers ov the Toilet. Enter at your own risk.
If you’re remotely into metal, you’ve heard of Avenged Sevenfold. Probably accompanying profanities with various degrees of colorful creativity, but you recognize the name all the same. In the last 10 years they’ve become quite the rock stars, and that status has earned them a sizeable amount of hate from a large chunk of the metal community. Be it because of their level of fame, the fact that the member’s real names are so Huntington Beach they chose some incredibly ridiculous stage monikers to compensate, or that they used to look like this:
Avenged Sevenfold are one of the most divisive bands in our beloved genre. I, for one, like them, so burn me at the stake of poserdom if you must. But before you do, I suggest you take a few minutes to read about the album that bridged metalcore and hard rock, the record that has unequivocally played a significant role in shaping the last decade’s worth of pop metal. You might even learn something, aside from the thresholds of your own butthurt, of course.
After achieving a decent level of success with their first two albums, Avenged Sevenfold got picked up by Warner and decided to start shifting their sound to be more accessible. See, before they were ripping off late 80s/early 90s metal and hard rock, A7X (yes, people actually call them that) were a pretty straight-up metalcore band, with 2003’s Waking the Fallen considered by many (myself included) to be a staple of the genre as it started to be known in the early 2000s. If wikipedia is to be believed, the members decided to start writing music that was still heavy, but simpler and catchier. The resulting amalgamation of hard rock, metalcore and at times even pop punk is one that sounds strange on paper, but that works when put into practice; album opener “Beast and the Harlot” is the best representation of said combination.
Pounding, groovy beats, twin guitar leads and cheesy choruses make up the first, more to the point half of the album. Just writing that made me think of The Masterlord and Randall Thorr, those guys should love this! Anyway, after the initial barrage, we get treated to a bit of a break in the form of “Seize the Day”, an acoustic ballad that isn’t horrible because it isn’t called “Gunslinger”. This gives way to the second half of the album, that has a much more progressive and experimental twist to it. Every track is over 6:30 minutes in length, and is packed with a lot of things I bet you wouldn’t expect to find: congas on “Sidewinder”, a string section on “The Wicked End” and even gang shouts on “Strength of the World”. Also, the whole album sports a sweet, sweet stringy bass tone that is audible throughout. There really is something here for everyone if you have the patience, because this last part of the record drags on a bit.
At any rate: if I had a dollar for every kid I’ve seen with an Avenged Sevenfold shirt, I’d still have to work, but I’d have a nice, fat security cushion to fall back on. Every current poppy metal band you probably loathe, from Black Veil Brides to Motionless in White to Asking Alexandria, owes a tremendous debt to City of Evil. Sure, it was far from being the first accessible metal album, but at the time it was definitely the most marketable. Avenged Sevenfold proved to the music industry at large that it is possible for a modern metal band to be the next Metallica if you have the songwriting ability and chops to back up a controlled and calculated “bad boy” image. A7X (cringe-barf) left the doors wide open for 21st century radio metal bands, making thousands of impressionable youngsters want to pick up a guitar, a makeup starter kit, and embrace the spirit of 80s glam (only this is DARK mom, you’ll never understand!!!).
Was this a good thing? That’s for you to decide, let me know in the comments. Now excuse me whi-
Groundbreakers is the Toilet ov Hell’s Hall ov Fame where we induct some of the most important and influential metal albums of all time. Catch up on previous entries into this hallowed bowl.
Neurosis – Souls at Zero
Death – Symbolic
Fear Factory – Demanufacture
Voivod – Killing Technology
Today is the Day – Temple of the Morning Star