Album Review: Avenged Sevenfold - 'Diamonds In The Rough'

Four years since The Stage, Avenged Sevenfold's old-new album contains three covers, two bonus tracks and one previously unreleased track.

News Flash: Huntington Beach’s Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) have finally released Diamonds in the Rough digitally, twelve years after its initial CD release in 2008.

Instantly upon pressing that play button, Avenged Sevenfold’s old-new album sucks you back into the noughties (in the right way). The first second of Demons – featuring Zacky Vengeance’s epic riff coupled with M. Shadows’ classic ‘Yeaaaaaah!’- is reminiscent of the band’s 2005 album City of Evil, which in itself contrasted from their previous albums of mostly, well… screaming (with the occasional ballad here and there). In fact, the two following tracks, Girl I Know and Crossroads are both in the vein of City of Evil - gnarly riffs, wailing solos and intense drum fills courtesy of the late Rev.

Image credit: Press.

A7X have also paid tribute to three monster bands, covering Iron Maiden’s Flash of the Blade, Pantera’s Walk and Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, each time adding their own twists to the songs, mostly via different drum and vocal techniques. Meanwhile, Synyster Gates smashes the guitar solos every single time – no wonder he was recently named one of the World’s Top 20 Guitarists of the Decade.

Until the End is a refreshingly different track, heavily featuring strings and piano; the song has a rich and luscious texture, piled high with violin and guitar melodies and with some very sexy slides in there as well – in my mind, it’s the sonic equivalent of black forest gateau. Not weird at all. The alternate version of Afterlife is the only other track on the album to feature a salient string section. Compared with the original version of Afterlife, this version features a more contrapuntal violin section in the last chorus particularly, and stripped back strings in the bridges.

Johnny Christ’s accentuated bassline in Tension again differs itself from the rest of the album; many other tracks have Christ’s bass in the background rather than in the foreground. Dancing Dead also features noticeable bass – especially in the main instrumental build-up – but the real hero is Gates’ guitar, which is just pure madness throughout.

'Until the End is a refreshingly different track, heavily featuring strings and piano; the song has a rich and luscious texture, piled high with violin and guitar melodies'.

Along with Tension, The Fight has the most significant lyrics; the lines ‘Grandfather used his hands, he worked them to the bone/ Provide his family with a happy home, alone’ illustrates the harsh reality that in order to give yourself a good chance in life, you must stand on your own two feet and be prepared to put in the hours to get good outcomes. Lost it All also echoes these themes (‘I ain’t waiting for a miracle, I ain’t waiting for the world to change’), commenting that it’s all about the graft in this life.

The Chris Lord-Alge Mix of Almost Easy features more distinguishable rhythm guitar and backing vocals, creating an almost angrier feel to the song. If there are any Need for Speed fans out there, this mix was made for the NFS Pro Street games.

St. James was a song dedicated James Sullivan, aka The Rev, who tragically died in 2009. The Rev had a wild and loving personality, always lightening up any room he entered (‘From every sorrow, there’s a light from our St. James’). 4.00 AM was also a nod to The Rev, telling the story of M Shadows driving round at 4am shortly after The Rev’s death, contemplating suicide in order to join him.

Set Me Free, like Until the End, is very rich in texture. Slow, sustained and melodic, a zen sensation fills the body whilst listening to this track. It’s a breath of fresh air after the more intense fast-paced tracks and is overall liberating (hence the title). The band released this song as a single before releasing Diamonds in the Rough, after recording it in 2013 during the Hail to the King sessions.

Being a compilation album with sixteen tracks on it, Diamonds in the Rough is a rollercoaster of an album, taking the listener on a journey of the senses and the mind. For non-metal lovers, I would say: don’t be put off! This compilation album has minimal screams and is choc-full of the most amazing guitar riffs – show Avenged Sevenfold some love and have a go.