Avenged Sevenfold - Waking The Fallen
One of Avenged Sevenfold's inherent characteristics is that they leave no one indifferent. You either love 'em or hate 'em. Or maybe you stand somewhere between the two, but you still feel something for them. I have always been a stringent fan of their music since the first time I heard them, yet I will still do my best to go through this album in a critical and unbiased manner. For starters, if you are completely unfamiliar with the band, you should go and read my review of their previous effort, entitled "Sounding The Seventh Trumpet". It was by all means an excellent release that I still play to this day. "Waking The Fallen" is Avenged Sevenfold's second full length album in 2 years, a feat that is rarely accomplished by established undergound acts, especially considering the quality of the material at hand. But if anyone can pull it, it's Avenged Sevenfold. These rock/metal/hardcore musicians are some of the most performing folks I have heard ever since I got into this thing called punk. "Waking The Fallen" oozes with talent, craftsmanship, a slick sense of direction, unmistakable presentation and overall goodness. What does turn away a lot of people from Avenged Sevenfold is the fact that while they borrow from various repertoires ranging from late 70s - early 80's cock rock and hair metal to contemporary hard music, they don't want to stick to a genre in particular. The majority of people can't seem to stand diversity, it's a human issue of old. Criticizing Avenged Sevenfold because "they try too hard" to innovate and engineer something new is conspicuously flagrant musical racism. For the rest of us who are down with the variety, we're in for a treat with "Waking The Fallen". The 68 minutes opus released in August 2003 by Hopeless Records leaves no stone unturned. It's everything "Sounding The Seventh Trumpet" was, but bigger, better and way badder. For instance, you won't get a straight up power ballad like "Warmness On The Soul", you'll get a two-part 14-minute epic track called "I Won't See You Tonight". There are more sung parts, more solos, more breakdowns, more chaotic insanity and definitely more songs that will stick in your head even after you're long done with hardcore. One of the key aspects of Avenged Sevenfold that appeals to me is M. Shadows' vocal. It has always beared an uncanny similitude to Greg Graffin, founding frontman of punk's longest-running musical institution, Bad Religion. This means beautiful vocal arrangements, sung parts, overlapped singing and screaming and more oozing aaaahs than you can shake your Bay Area punk stick at. To his account though, Shadows does have his own bag of tricks that set him apart from the rest. His lyrics are also clearly distinguishable and suit the evil nature of his band's music perfectly. All three axe wielders have considerably upgraded their weaponry skills in the past year as both guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates and bass player Johny Christ display so very well on "Waking The Fallen". You'll find various techniques have been employed, from ubiquitous lead solos to subtle arpeggios and let's not forget the dual fretboard gymnastics that will instantly confirm their desire to create infectious melodies worthy of our time. Finally, the percussion section has seen somewhat of a redesign since the last full length, for better or for worse depending on who you ask. The consensus is that The Reverend has considerably slowed down and no longer steals the show whenever he has the opportunity. On the upside, this does give him more credibility as a stable musician, but it does detract a tiny bit from the intensity factor of the album. The last thing anyone could accuse "Waking The Fallen" of being would be that it's a rushed job. Hell no. To make sure this wouldn't happen, Avenged Sevenfold teamed up with Mudrock, who also produced among others, Chimaira, Godsmack and American Pearl. Now whether you appreciate these bands or not should have little to do with your impression of the album. The fact is that a number of weeks have been spent in the studios to tweak, fine tune and perfect the long awaited sophomore album into the sophisticated product that we can enjoy today. I have kept my fingers crossed for this record ever since I heard about it in July of last year from M. Shadows himself. As of this review, there have been no mentions of a third full-length, but that wouldn't surprise me now with the sheer amount of media attention A7X has gotten lately. Not to forget the diehard fans screaming for more, becoming increasingly hungry as each record is dropped. A7X is one of the rare niche bands that have found a crowd in a such a short time in this day and age, and I sincerely wish them the best of luck in all of their upcoming ventures.