I loved the FedEx man. I really did. I loved the FedEx man because he brought my preview copy of A7X's latest. I've listened to the self titled release a bunch of times and now I've begun to hate the FedEx man. Huh? Well, you see as far as mainstream commercially viable hard rock/metal albums go this one is the shizzle. As far as A7X albums go it leaves quite a bit to be desired.
Don't get me wrong. I am a fan. City of Evil was my go-to disc for long drives, short walks and just hanging around. I so wanted its successor to be at least as good as "Evil".
The album starts strong with the kidney punch that is "Critical Acclaim". With its soaring intro, chunky riffing, and sinister whispers one instantly sees why it was released several months ago as a teaser. "Critical Acclaim" is also blatantly political and flexes A7X's right-wing muscles.
After that there is no sign of the complex arrangements and dynamic shifts seen on previous releases. There are songs that tween chicks will dig. When my wife starts bopping to "Lost" I know the album isn't what I'd hoped it would be.
The people who began chanting "Sellout, Sellout!" when City Of Evil was released will undoubtedly begin their chant again. There's nothing incredibly new here. With every album A7X has moved toward the mainstream. That's a balancing act which I don't envy them. I guess they could have stayed underground with M. Shadows screaming his lungs out and selling a few thousand albums here and there, or they can take their incredible talent and pen some hits.
I struggle with how to end this review. I remember all too well my sense of loss upon hearing Metallica's Black Album. Gone were the 9 minute long epics with 16 different time signatures and nary a chorus to be found. Metallica had gone mainstream, and in the opinion of millions had never sounded better.
I, on the other hand, wept.
A7X - A7X marks a significant departure from a solid body of work. And I'm sure in the opinion of millions they too have never sounded better.