Are you surprised that I own an Avenged Sevenfold album? Have I lost my remaining metal credentials yet? Will I when I tell you that Waking the Fallen, the band’s second album is pretty damn fun? At this stage in the ban’d life there’s still plenty of meaty riffs and breakdowns, more than serviceable growls, and massive whopping hooks as far as the eye can see. I don’t care how you view their “cred” in the community; this is a fun, fun album.
Let’s not go overbaord, though: it’s certainly not perfect. For one thing it is WAAAAAY too long. Maybe getting to 69 minutes was a personal goal for laughs, but the truth is despite a consistent level of songwriting chops things begin to lose steam around “Second heartbeat.” For all its epic-ness, I don’t know that we needed a two-part, 14-minute “I Won’t See You Tonight” but I get the desire to close big. Except that there are two more songs after it, and I just listened to the album and can’t remember them.
What I CAN remember, though, is how strong the first half of Waking the Fallen is. The stretch of the opening title track through “Desecrate Through Reverence” is fantastic, full of bombastic riffs that move between anthemic to brutal, often pushed together in ways that shouldn’t really work but do. The 1-2 punch of “Unholy Confessions” and “Chapter Four” show just how adept the band is at writing catchy songs, and M Shadows’s vocals are the strongest they’ve ever been on record, alternating from rousing cleans to fried out metalcore roars. The guitar interplay between Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates (I can’t tell you how much I hated writing those silly names) evokes classic twin guitar attacks like Maiden and Think Lizzy, and help push even weaker tracks like the aforementioned “Second Heartbeat” into something more than listenable.
And that’s probably all I’m ever gong to say about Avenged Sevenfold, because I don’t own any of their other records. But I like this one, so there you go.