Avenged Sevenfold was just another slightly thuggish bunch of SoCal metalcore wannabes with overly dramatic aliases (M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates) until the bombastic "Bat Country" and accompanying video catapulted 2005's City of Evil into the mainstreamosphere. Last year's self-titled follow-up was somehow even more excessive, with not only feverish guitar licks but pianos, strings and horns running off the rails like vacationing lawyers on a coke binge. Is attitude to spare enough to propel a fire-and-brimstone band like AX7 through an entire career's worth of hits? Or are the highest highs always followed by the lowest lows? As Hunter S. Thompson might say, in the music industry — as in new journalism — if you buy the ticket, you best be sure you want to take the ride.
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