New, melodic metal

Once in a great while, a band emerges and breathes new life into modern music. With above-average ability and a thirst for pushing their creative limits, Avenged Sevenfold is that band. Blasting unique punk-metal that is tight and melodic, it is no surprise they have been blossoming as a group since grade school.

On Avenged Sevenfold’s new release City of Evil, the young rocker’s tunes are so well-crafted the appeal transcends all genres. A7X, as fans refer to the band, signed to Warner Brothers after two successful indie label releases. I chatted with guitarist extraordinaire Synyster Gates after their Warped Tour gig in Orlando and asked how City of Evil measures up.

“The album is huge!” he said. “It blows the others away, [it’s] so much more melodic.”

Gates is right, as City of Evil provides a sonic onslaught on par with A7X influences Iron Maiden, Pantera and Guns and Roses. The dual guitar sound Gates and Zacky Vengeance command is so crisp and flawless it leaves fellow musicians shaking their heads in equal parts approval and envy. Riff driven tunes such as “Burn it Down” and “Beast and the Harlot” are abundant throughout the 11-track release.

Setting A7X apart from mundane acts is the complexity of their songs. To have a seven-plu minute song, you have to be both ballsy and inventive. The tracks on this record average that length. They are never redundant, never boring, but always an adventure.

On “Seize the Day” and “Strength of the World,” A7X shows its diversity by slowing things down and incorporating acoustic guitars. Like every good roller coaster, it leaves you suspended before dropping into a maximum metal rush.

Singer M. Shadows is a perfect fit for the band. He doesn’t scream, just accents the music with great pitch and melody. Drummer The Reb is a double-bass monster, and his fills on “Blinded in Chains” fire with the consistency of a machine gun. Bassist Johnny Christ keeps things chugging along, highlighted by the Hunter S. Thompson tribute “Bat Country.” I can see Thompson driving coast to coast, top down, with this gem blasting on the radio fueling his spaced-out travels.

Avenged Sevenfold is notorious for its high-energy live show. I asked Gates if he is concerned for the safety of fans that mosh.

“Some are out of their minds. On hot days, kids will just drop like flies,” he said. “Lately, I’ve seen a transition to fans just enjoying themselves and listening to the music.”

Gates has high hopes for the band, saying that in five years, it will be “the first band on the moon.”

While on Earth, Synyster’s favorite cities to play are Vancouver, B.C. and hometown San Diego. Still, expect A7X to be playing and partying all-out when they gig at Revolution in Ft. Lauderdale on Oct. 17.

John Heslin can be contacted at