November 1, 2007

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Avenged Sevenfold, Avenged Sevenfold
Warner Brothers Records, Oct. 30
“Classic stuff” — meaning old Zep, Sabbath, Motley Crue, etc. – remains the most common answer when you ask a modern kid what they really like. This is certain to remain the case while Avenged Sevenfold — the de facto great white hope of modern arena-metal — continues to spew forth idiocy like this, remaining content in their position as leaders of a sputtering latter-day NWOBHM movement that requires only five IQ points, max, more than what nu-metal bands like POD are packing.

One good thing about their eponymous and fourth album is that for once it isn’t a Judas Priest plastic-covered sofa. It’s a plastic-covered sofa, yes, but they’re branching out a little (as I’d predicted in last week’s Playlist), so it’s an eclectic plastic-covered sofa, one mainly comprised of sloppily conceived hard rock/emo/thrash-metal bric-a-brac and (also in line with my predictions) something vaguely, inaccurately ethnic, the latter being the mariachi-ska of “A Little Piece of Heaven” (the song eventually morphs into a Jack Skellington-inspired off-Broadway mess if you allow your CD player to live that long). If they’d ever considered becoming a joke band, this is a great start.

I’d also predicted a big fat emo ballad, which is pretty much what “Dear God” is, but it’s easily the best song on the album owing to the fact that it employs pedal steel guitar; any blatant scamming of red-staters is always A-OK in my book.

The band has become more equal-opportunity with its ripoffs, looting Linkin Park, Alice n Chains, Styx, Sevendust, Queen, Mac Davis, the Grease soundtrack (“Scream”) and Destiny’s Child (“Brompton Cocktail”). All of it pasteurized, homogenized, ringtone-ready, wrapped in plastic and drained of all subtlety.

Contrast all this with that Tomahawk album of earlier this year. All it would take to make hard rock cool is a solid foundation of exotic traditional music, a guitarist who can write good lead parts, and some primal drums. Avenged Sevenfold, for their part, continue to demonstrate most succinctly what a forward-thinking band shouldn’t do. D Eric W. Saeger