The album that cemented Orange County’s Avenged Sevenfold as the world beating megastars they are today, Hail to The King is also the most polarising and controversial in the bands back catalogue to date. 4 years removed from the untimely death of drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan, Avenged Sevenfold settled on their first consistent drummer since losing the rev in Arin Ilejay; and the band entered the studio to work on what would be Hail to The King. Media appearances from the band prior to the album’s release suggested that the record would take great influence from the heavy hitters of the world of heavy music and generally, embody a more stripped back, rock orientated sound.
What I think took most people by surprise is to what extent these sentiments rang true, the Gothic undertones and somewhat experimental, scatter gun song writing of past releases is all but non-existent throughout. The majority of the album sits at mid-pace with ninety percent of the focus on a 4/4 stomp, much like the approach and changes Metallica embraced in the early nineties. The Metallica influence flows throughout Hail to The King – sometimes a little too closely. This Means War, for instance, is all but a cover of Sad But True and Crimson Day has a very similar feel to Nothing Else Matters in terms of guitar tone and structure. M. Shadows also embraces his inner Axl Rose on Doing Time, which is a strange pairing but works in an odd way. Of course, It’s not a crime to wear your influences on your sleeve, it’s pretty difficult not to in this day and age In fact, and this album has its fair share of standout moments. The title track will be a set list main stay for years to come, the big riffs of Planets and Requiem mixed with the classical and operatic elements sound huge and menacing. Whereas Coming Home is an underrated, uplifting number which could’ve arguably been a big radio hit for Avenged sevenfold.
Hail to the King earned the band their biggest mainstream push to date, charting at number one in album charts all around the world and booked their place as the arena playing, festival headliners they are today.