'Hail To The King' is a metal album for metal lovers. The 10 tracks that feature on this album all pay homage to just a few of the most influential bands in metal history. 'Crimson Day' has shades of 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium),' while 'This Means War' sees vocalist M. Shadows flexing his vocal chords to a powerful level - very similar to Bruce Dickinson. Add in the pentatonic guitar licks layered heavily behind it, and Avenged Sevenfold find themselves quite happily sitting alongside metal's greatest musicians. That to me is what this album is: it is their slow start up to becoming one of rocks most prolific modern bands. 'Hail To The King' has such a retrospective attitude about it, that the types of comparisons I made above can't help but be made. It is both a homage to musical greatness but and a teasing as to what the world can expect from this band, as they grow up and leave the mascara and crazy hair styles behind.
I can imagine that many Avenged Sevenfold fans will find this album to be a bit of a shock. The death of 'The Rev' and the three year gap between albums has made this band an entirely new machine. I highly doubt that they will release a song as bat-shit crazy as 'Beast And The Harlot' ever again, and I am going to miss the mid-song guitar battles and the chaotic choruses. But as soon as any doubt of their new musical direction appears in my mind, I stick on 'Doing Time' - a song that has shades of old Avenged Sevenfold, as it is slightly more insane than the rest of the album.
This album is a very welcome addition to the bands back-catalog. The way each song is structured around a single guitar riff is simple yet effective, giving Synyster Gates a chance to remind everyone that he is one of the most naturally talented guitarists in the world right now. Overall, 'Hail To The King' shows everyone in metal that the band have grown up and are willing to try something a bit more sedated and thought-through. I really do hope they can carry on this style and truly become a part of musical legend.