Work wasn't going well, relationships (friends, family, etc.) weren't great and I was getting bored with the music I loved.
I kept hitting my music collection and just wasn't finding the stuff that suited my mood. So I went to the local music shop and was browsing through some metal, alternative, rock ... looking for something that looked or sounded right.
One of the guys working that day recognized me and remembered some of my musical tastes (everything from the Monkees to My Chemical Romance, from the Beatles to Black Sabbath, from Johnny Cash to The Clash). I told him I wanted some music that wailed, that had some energy, but wasn't screaming for screamings' sake.
He asked me what I thought of Metallica, and I said, "Well, you know, it's good stuff ... the early stuff anyway. But I already have some of it." And he winked and handed me this album.
I know that fans of Avenged Sevenfold's earlier work consider this a sell-out album. They don't much care for the "smoothed over edges." They want the unrestrained mosh-driving anger and power that had come before.
C'est la vie.
From the get-go, this album rocks. You get shrieks, you get anger, you get fast guitars and pounding drums. To top it off, and to suit my mood, there were a lot of themes to the music. Anger. Betrayal. Disgust. Longing. Annoyance. Not that other metal, or punk, lacks these themes ... but this album enunciated it.
But it's not just anger. It's not just metal. There's string plucking. There's symphonic movements. There's some classic rock woven throughout.
I've grown to love this album. I listen to it a lot at work. From the "muted" but clearly understandable "Quiet, might piss somebody off" lyric to "Critical Acclaim" that opens the album to the almost country ballad of "Dear God," including the amazing "Afterlife," "Gunslinger" and "A Little Piece of Heaven," you get guitar heroics ... You get thrilling vocals ... you get symphonic rock on par with Queen's "Queen II" or "Sheer Heart Attack" albums. It's not the angriest, loudest, harshest rock out there ... But it's perfect for what it is.
Queen fans, Metallica fans, guitar fanatics and people who love a good angry, blistering vocal ... this album is for you. A lot of energy, and therapeutic as well. And if you have a sense of humor, they hit that too. The album's coup de grace "A Little Piece of Heaven" is a twisted, multi-tiered effort that's like A7X's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Lots of different items twisted through. The lyrics are pretty rough, but keep in mind that it's all tongue in cheek. (Consider how many metal covers in the 80s had demons or ghouls or axes or blood or nightmare scenes, then combine that with a sense of humor and some elaborate production. It's a musical pastiche! View the video in that manner.)
I still pull this disc out every couple of months and listen to it all the way through. It has staying power. Not for those with delicate tastes who are easily offended, of course, but certainly good for people with varied tastes!