Modern metal superstars Avenged Sevenfold have worked closely with Call of Duty: Black Ops developers’ Treyarch for the last several years. For 4 consecutive years, the band have recorded a track for each year’s instalment of the game. The latest of which, titled “Mad Hatter” has just been released alongside a companion video, and now Avenged Sevenfold are releasing all 4 of the tracks in a special E.P. titled “Black Reign”.
The E.P. opens with newest release “Mad Hatter”. There’s a quiet, melodic intro before it picks up into a groovy riff accompanied by vocalist M. Shadows’ trademark melodic vocals. The chorus has kind of a relaxed, laidback feel to it, it contrasts well with the heavy nature of the song. The song then drops down to an atmospheric instrumental section before echoey vocals come in and it builds back up to an aggressive, hectic finish before dropping down again, and fading away. Overall, it’s a very melodic, enjoyable song.
The second track, “Carry On”, originally featured on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, is filled with fast, frantic riffs and licks as well as a speedy, soaring chorus. It very much contains the bands signature sound, with the high guitar line mimicking the lower melody. The harmonies are nice and it maintains a nice, unrelenting energy. There’s a great breakdown/solo section and I found that the drums stood out, an impressive feat considering the presence of such high quality guitars and vocals.
Next up is “Not Ready To Die” marking the band’s first collaborative effort with Treyarch. It opens with a creepy organ/synth sounding section. Nice, flowing licks move to a solid rhythmic riff. The song picks up for the chorus, and the additional screamed vocals add an extra dimension to the track. As the songs heads to its conclusion it features a big beefy riff and heavy vocals and it’s energy is maintained right to the end.
The final track, “Jade Helm” is a series of instrumental pieces originally featured on 2015’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. There isn’t really much to say about it, it’s interesting enough but ultimately sounds like background music.
Overall, “Black Reign” is worth a listen for any Avenged Sevenfold fan. Ultimately there’s not a lot to it, being essentially 4 tracks you may/probably have already heard, but it’s still very much enjoyable. For me it’s nice to hear the band perform something a little bit out of their comfort zone. The songs featured aren’t necessarily the type of songs you’d expect to feature on a standard A7X album, so it’s something a little different, while still maintain the essence of what the band is really all about.
Review By Josh Farrell
Avenged Sevenfold recently played Belfast’s SSE Arena in June. Read the Review here on Metal Planet Belfast
ABOUT AVENGED SEVENFOLD
Avenged Sevenfold became one of the world’s biggest rock bands by creating a sound that broke through obstacles of language, distance and culture. They raised the stakes and standards for the genre with a string of blockbuster albums, including their 2005 platinum-selling breakthrough, City Of Evil, 2007’s platinum-selling Avenged Sevenfold and two consecutive No. 1’s on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart: 2010’s Nightmare and 2013’s Hail To The King. They’ve achieved Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards for album sales in nearly a dozen countries, racked up over a billion video views and a billion-plus Spotify streams, have consistently been one of the most-played bands on rock radio for over a decade with multiple No. 1 singles, and have headlined arenas and the biggest rock festivals around the globe, amassing a diehard international fan base whose members number in the millions.
Their most recent release, The Stage, is a work of immense scope and ambition tied together by an Artificial Intelligence theme. Inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk, the album is the band’s first thematic release and its epic 15-minute-plus closing track, “Exist,” features a guest appearance by award-winning astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson giving a spoken word performance he penned specifically for the album. The album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock, Hard Rock and Alternative Albums charts and drew praise from a plethora of outlets, among them Rolling Stone, NME, Q, The Guardian, Guitar World, Metal Hammer, Revolver, Loudwire, Metal Injection, Alternative Press, Drum, Total Guitar and Classic Rock, with the latter calling it “a metal masterpiece.” The album’s title track earned the band their first-ever Grammy nomination for “Best Rock Song.”