As a die-hard a7x fan, I was ecstatic to pull THIS out from under the tree. Further joy ensued upon noticing that not only is it their newest cd, but it comes with a DVD of their Long Beach, CA performance.
Said DVD was a LOT of fun to watch. On stage, they don't sound dramatically different from their recordings. The DVD includes special features, such as clips of their "We'll be out in 15 minutes" videos they make up for concerts (some of those get pretty funny), song selections, and the intro video for the song "Scream, " which is on the DVD exclusively.
Notably, the Scream performance was perhaps the singlemost enthralling of the DVD. The song is already mood-music to me, but to backdrop it in my mind now with the image of half-naked girls writhing around provocatively onstage only furthers my perception of this song--sexy as HELL. The guitars are intense and lustful, and M. Shadows' voice imparts serious and darkened eroticism and depth, which is impressive onstage, especially given the state of his vocal cords. Of course, the lyrics help too, with lines such as "scream from the pleasure/mask your desire, " "I'll taste your blood tonight, " (I have a blood fetish, and this line fills my head with images of small cuts on my body getting--we'll put this politely--kissed by my man
Next up, I should mention that also on this DVD (and the cd) is a remake of Pantera's "Walk." Personally, I don't think it suits a7x. M. Shadows' voice is not deep enough, and is far too "whiny" as a friend of mine puts it, to effectively cover this song. Gates does a pretty decent job on the guitar intro though. The best part of the DVD performance of this is when M. Shadows decides before the song starts that his voice hurts, and so they pull an audience member onstage to sing the first half of it. I really love this level of involvement--you definitely don't see that everyday.
Another mentionable part of this DVD is "Gunslinger, " a tribute to the men and women overseas. I was pleased to see a7x do something like this, and the song left me feeling moved and affected.
At the end, they show the band (on the stagescreen) in a hot tub when they're asked to do an encore song. Of course, they agree and start single-filing out of the tub (you'll have to buy the DVD to see who's the one stepping out naked!) to begin a performance of "A Little Piece of Heaven, " a song with another memorable tune, sexy guitars, and enticing rhythm.
As far as the CD goes, I was disappointed that there was no lyrics in the included booklet. Also, I would have liked to see more tracks on it, or at least "Scream". Most of this CD is typical a7x music (read: NOT a complaint! Seductive and energetic guitars coupled with a sexy and unique vocal set is nothing to be disappointed in.) The CD opens up with "Demons", which is not a bad song, but it sounds like everything else a7x does, so it's easy to just let the song become background music. "Girl I Know" follows, which is either funny or completely unimpressive, depending on your personal taste. It has a catchy melody to it and a really cool rhythm to boot, but admittedly the lyrics leave a tiny bit to be desired. Next up is "Crossroads." I enjoyed this song thoroughly, but there's nothing inherently different about it worth mentioning. "Flash of the Blade", a cover of the Iron Maiden song, was a personal favorite of mine. The guitars are really catchy, the rhythm is satisfyingly up-tempo, and M. Shadows' voice definitely does this song justice. Dare I say I might like this version better than the original. "Until the End" follows, a really sweet slow-down from the first 4 songs about dedication and companionship. "Tension" picks up the pace again with a subject we can ALL relate to--a desperate need to relax. This one was another one of my personal favorites. "Walk", the aforementioned Pantera cover, was the only track that dampened my enthusiasm at all. The only true difference from the DVD performance was that M.Shadows sings the song in its entirety, and the guitar solo did leave something to be desired. It lacks the flair that the original has. "The Fight" draws me into the CD again with a very catch melody and beat, and a well-placed sociopolitical subject. I really like this one, and it will be played frequently in my car. "Dancing Dead" is a track that's right up my alley. I love the guitars, the tune is another memorable one, and the lyrics again have a bit of a sociopolitical twist. Next up is the CLA Mix of "Almost Easy". This is, essentially, the original, with slightly varied guitar and vocals. Finally, drawing the CD to a close is an alternate version of "Afterlife". I've caught myself multiple times singing this song in my car since I got this CD. Again, it's essentially the same except for a change in the instrumentals, which, though I didn't think it possible, seems to improve the song to me.
All in all, this package is definitely an awesome, impressive find. If you've so much as heard of Avenged Sevenfold, you need to have this in your musical repertoire.