City of Evil is the third album by Heavy Metal band Avenged Sevenfold, released in 2005. This album marks the band's transition from the scream-heavy metalcore of their first two records to a lighter but more technical and more melodic brand of alternative metal. This album (as well as its follow-up Avenged Sevenfold) also marks the band's most commercially successful era, where they benefited from heavy airplay on MTV and took themselves far less seriously than in their early years or in The New '10s; it's palpable not only in the band members' pseudo-thugish looks in that period, but also in the album's fast, unbridled, over-the-top and at times experimental compositions. The result is an extremely densely packed record where the band tried to see how all-out they could go, and was also the band's longest album (72 minutes) before The Stage came out in 2016.
The album can be divided in two halves: the first five tracks have a heavy Speed Metal vibe, sometimes even leaning into outright Thrash Metal, all peppered with Punk Rock-inspired rhythms and breakdowns, and follow each other with little time to breathe (as in, there is absolutely zero pause between the the first, second and third tracks). The last five are generally slower but also longer and more epic − the shortest track of that part is just a little under 7 minutes − interspersed with orchestral parts. The two parts are connected by the Power Ballad "Seize the Day", and even that song is pretty aggressive.
It is their first of four albums released by Warner Bros. Records, as well as their best selling one (around three million copies worldwide). And the second-to-last featuring Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan at the drums.
Tracklist (singles in italics)
- Beast and the Harlot (5:38)
- Burn it Down (4:54)
- Blinded in Chains (6:29)
- Bat Country (5:08)
- Trashed and Scattered (5:50)
- Seize the Day (5:29)
- Sidewinder (7:00)
- The Wicked End (7:10)
- Strength of the World (9:14)
- Betrayed (6:44)
- M.I.A. (8:43)
- M. Shadows Vocals
- Synyster Gates − Lead guitar, backing vocals
- Zacky Vengeance − Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Johnny Christ − Bass guitar, backing vocals
- The Rev − Drums, backing vocals
Tropes found in the album
- Added Alliterative Appeal: The first four tracks all have a title starting in "B", reinforcing the sense of continuity between those tracks.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: M. Shadows' pregnant girlfriend is killed in a road accident out of nowhere in the music video for "Seize the Day".
- Epic Rocking: All of the songs in the second half qualify, with two clocking around the 9 minute mark. Even in the first half, only "Burn It Down" clocks (barely) under five minutes.
- Fading into the Next Song: The bread and butter of this album. "Beast and the Harlot" bleeds into "Burn It Down", which itself bleeds into "Blinded in Chains". The wind sound effect at the end of "Seize the Day" also leads into "Sidewinder".
- Genre Shift: "Sidewinder" switches suddenly from an epic metal song to a flamenco-ish accoustic rhythm after the last chorus, which ends with a gipsy jazz-inspired solo.
- "Strength of the World" is obviously one to The Western genre, with an orchestral intro that wouldn't be out of place in an Ennio Morricone soundtrack and a revenge story typical of the era.
- In "Betrayed", the low-pitched, somber interlude between the first two verses is reminiscent of Pantera's song "Shedding Skin". The title itself comes from that same song's opening lyrics ("I was betrayed, one more day of my short life").
- "M.I.A." pays homage to Iron Maiden's style in several ways, from the a-capella start of the verse (reminiscent of "The Trooper"), to the galloping baseline, dual harmonies in the solo and "wo-oh-oh"s at the end of it.
- Longest Song Goes Last: Just barely averted, as the final track "M.I.A." is slightly shorter than "Strength of the World", but still the second longest track. Regardless, the soft, fading out solo at the end probably makes it more effective as a closer.
- Murder Ballad: "Betrayed" tells the murder of Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darell Abbott (shot on stage in 2004, when A7X was just starting to work on City of Evil) from the point of view of the killer, a witness, and Darell himself.
- Revenge Ballad: The whole story of "Strength of the World", where the protagonist's family is killed by outlaws and he'll dedicate his life to punish the murderers, no matter the cost. Once he does, he only feels sad and empty.
- Snakes Are Sinister: "Sidewinder" from City of Evil is written from the point of view of a poisonous snake hunting its prey. It could also be interpreted as being about a metaphorical "snake" (i.e. a treacherous person).
- Symphonic Metal: "The Wicked End" and "Strength of the World" feature prominent orchestral parts that emphasize their epicness.
- Take That!: "Blinded in Chains" is one at opportunistic politicians, warmongers and religious leaders that created a climate of blind patriotism and obedience in the aftermath of 9/11. It also discusses how difficult it becomes to think for yourself in such a poisonous atmosphere.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Beast and the Harlot", of all songs, has a very poppy pitch rise in the last chorus. Needless to say, fans coming out of the dark metalcore album Waking the Fallen were a bit taken aback.