Today I'll be talking about my ten favorite songs by crossover metal gods Avenged Sevenfold! I first became aware of A7X in 2005 when their third album City of Evil blasted its way onto the airwaves. Songs like "Bat Country" and "The Beast & The Harlot" showed the band's musicianship and dexterity with complex prog-metal arrangements, and those were among the simpler tunes on the record. I liked the album but wasn't blown away by it. Then a few years later I gave their self-titled fourth album a listen and was stunned by the versatility on display. From thrash to pop-metal to country to Broadway, this album had incredible variety and demonstrated the band's lust for new sounds and genres. For me though their greatest album is 2010's Nightmare, which tempered the excess of City of Evil while preserving much of the flexibility of the self-titled record. Several tracks were the result of their drummer The Rev's untimely death the previous year, lending the record a palpable expressiveness. In my opinion the less said about 2013's Hail to the King the better; this was presented as an attempt to record a simple, classic-sounding metal album but to me came across as largely a Metallica "Black Album" ripoff. But Avenged Sevenfold rebounded huge with their seventh album The Stage, a progessive concept album dealing with themes of space exploration, artificial intelligence, and humanity's self-destructiveness. A7X was back on top of their game.
What really strikes me about A7X is their neverending determination to reinvent themselves and make every album different from the others. Always intent on challenging the industry status quo, they've stated they don't care how heavy their music is as long as it's good. I have great respect for bands who strive to transcend their genre, particularly when they're as musically accomplished as these fellas.
I'll be frank - this list exclusively contains songs from Self-Titled, Nightmare, and The Stage. For me these three albums are in a class well above the other four (plus Diamonds in the Rough) and nothing from Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, Waking the Fallen, City of Evil, or Hail to the King made the cut. But I'll include some honorable mentions:
"Strength of the World"
"Until the End"
Okay, now for my ten faves. Here we go....
One of the most strikingly radio-friendly A7X songs, this speed metal anthem about man's inhumanity boasts an impossibly fast tempo, shredding guitars, and a strangely saccharine melody with autotune-assisted choruses. At first the effect seems out of place in a metal song, but you very quickly get used to it and before long the hook gets stuck in your head. The song's energy is undeniable, as was the band's growing songwriting proficiency and confidence in trying new things.
9. Creating God
This midtempo, Alice in Chains-esque song about the dangers of experimenting with artificial intelligence would be at home on any rock radio station. Syncopated guitars create a foundation for grungy vocal harmonies which build to a simple, soaring cautionary hook. This was the first song on The Stage to really jump out on the inaugural listen, and remains one of my favorites.