EP Review – Black Reign by Avenged Sevenfold (Warner Bros)

American hard rockers/metallers, Avenged Sevenfold have released a new EP, their first EP actually, called Black Reign. Black Reign was released on the 21st of September via Warner Bros.

The last album to come from Avenged Sevenfold was 2016’s The Stage. It was a popular enough album though they can be a bit of a marmite band, especially in the metal scene. I am not such a big fan to be perfectly honest. They definitely have their merits as a band and I do like a fair bit of their music though most of that is from earlier days. Albums such as City of Evil and their self titled one. Despite, The Stage’s popularity, I really don’t see the appeal, as you can tell by my review of the title track and lead single, here.

Avenged Sevenfold do have a vast amount of talent though so I am always willing and keen to check out new music from them, just in case I love it. The band, in 2018 are M. Shadows on vocals with the immensely talented Synyster Gates on lead guitars. Zacky Vengeance is on rhythm guitar and Johnny Christ is on bass. Lastly, another huge talent, on the drums is Brooks Wackerman.

Black Reign

On to Black Reign then. There are 4 tracks on the EP. Not being a huge fan of the band, I have not heard any of them before but if you do follow them closely, you are likely to know 3 of the tracks. If you are a fan of Call of Duty games, you may also know three of the tracks. All 4 songs have been composed for different Call of Duty games with only Mad Hatter being new as it is set for the next Call of Duty release, Black Ops 4.

Black Reign starts off with the new track, Mad Hatter, and I guess it isn’t a surprise that I don’t love it seeing as it was recorded at the same time as The Stage. I don’t hate it either though and there are some interesting ideas in it, showcasing something just a little different.

The drumming is great, containing loads of rhythm’s and fills that shoot off in multiple directions. There is a grunge feel to parts of the chorus, almost Soundgarden esque. There is a nice rolling beat and compact riff in the verses too with even the vocals sounding on point. It just loses me in it’s closing stages. The solo is a great display of talent but I don’t think it has been fitted to the song particularly well. The switch in style is nice though. The 50 seconds of gentle fading out music is a bit boring too mainly because it goes on to long.

The other, more familiar to some, tracks though are quite interesting. I am not familiar with them because I don’t think I have played any of the COD games they were in. I would love to say that is because I prefer deep story telling but really it is just a lack of time.

The first up is Carry On. Originally Carry On came out in 2012, between the band’s Nightmare and Hail to the King phases. I really like this one. It has the sound, and feel of their older material with crunching drums and blazing guitars. Fast and shouted vocals make up the verses before turning to a more sung style in the chorus. It has a great solo and even a bit of solo drumming to get stuck in to as well. The same goes for Not Ready to Die which is my favourite track on Black Reign.

A piano intro leads into big sounding guitars. It reminds me a little of the song MIA in structure. Fast guitars and impressive drum blasts move the track along at a good pace while M Shadows shouts in his slightly strained style over the top. We get a lot of phases in this one. Big solos, slow downs to piano led moments. These build back up to impressive soaring solos, there is a catchy chorus and it ends on a nice breakdown of sorts with crunchy riffs and a strong bass line.

Black Reign

The last track is a bit odd. Jade Helm is an instrumental that probably works brilliantly in the game but not as a song. Musically, it is cool but it is constantly interrupted by stops. It makes it appear more as snippets of music then as an actual song. Jade Helm is very much drum led so you get an impressive minute of pounding beats with crunchy guitars before it stops for 6 or 7 seconds. It then comes back in for half a minute with a different rhythm before stopping again etc…Kind of like what I imagine a drummer’s CV would sound like.

Black Reign is a decent effort, and one that fans of the band are bound to lap up. I like it. I think the two middle songs are really good whereas Mad Hatter is okay but not one I will listen to regularly. Jade Helm is odd and frustrating to listen to because it keeps stopping but, when it is playing, it is great. Not bad at all.

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Black Reign is available now at all the usual streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. I don’t think there has been a physical release but visit here to get it electronically. Keep up to date with Avenged Sevenfold news at their website, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Black Reign by Avenged Sevenfold (Warner Bros)
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