If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, and Megadeth should be jumping with joy.
Welcome to Point/Counterpoint, where we prove to the rest of the Internet that we are smarter and more right than any other editorial outlet on planet earth. We know these dudes who run a metal site called MetalSucks that people seem to like, so we challenged them to an editorial cage match. The rules were simple: two blogs enter, one blog leaves. This week we're facing off over Avenged Sevenfold, who we are calling out as repugnant ripoffs guilty of larceny in the first degree. MetalSucks, on the other hand, thinks these back-ally copy cats deserve more than a pained smile at a karaoke cover. You can read their sorry excuse for an argument right here.
Hail to the Thief
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, and Megadeth should be jumping with joy that their classic riffs and immaculate songcraft have earned Avenged Sevenfold a number one album. Machine Head’s Robb Flynn pretty much said it best in a blog post: "Congratulations to Avenged Sevenfold on their latest ‘covers album’ coming it at #1,” A couple jokes later, he continued, “I like the new record… [but] hopefully we're all coming down from our post-orgasmic #1-album-bliss, because it's time to call a spade a spade… ‘cause there's some blatant jackery goin' on there, wiggas!!”
The More Things Change…
Flynn makes light of Avenged Sevenfold’s thievery with some witty one-liners, but this isn’t a band roast; this is practically plagiarism. Since when should a band be praised for blatantly copping riffs from their favorite bands? Will Mustaine lose his shit and start ranting? Will Axl Rose even know there a band out there called Avenged Sevenfold? I’m guessing Metallica won’t make any waves since they’re apparently pals with Avenged, and there are multiple touring options that could be spoiled if they lash the tongues that lap so hungrily at their dangling ball sacks. So it’s up to the people to speak out—the ones that didn’t already make the band’s album number one, that is. It’s no mere coincidence that if you removed the long-stolen Overkill bat skull logo and album title, you’d be left with Smell the Glove or The Black Album, without the snake.
Okay, you could argue that there’s not a riff or a melody on Hail that’s completely stolen from another song, but if I walk into your grocery store, rip open a box of donuts, and leave with only half the goods and not pay, you’re still gonna tackle me at the exit or call the cops. I know, It’s not exactly a donuts-to-apples comparison, but seriously, the structure and vocal cadence of “This Means War” sounds exactly like Metallica’s “Sad But True” and only a screamo fan that couldn’t differentiate Vic Rattlehead from Eddie wouldn’t notice that the beat, bass line, and sonic buildup of “Heretic” is super reminiscent of Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction.” Then there’s the framework of “Hail to the King,” which is blatantly AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, and “Doing Time,” which rips the vibe, banshee scream and guitar groove of Guns N’ Roses' “Welcome to the Jungle." Hell, our sparring partners MetalSucks pointed out all the similarities between Hail to the King and everyone A7X pilfered from in their own post, so just refer to that if you wanna keep score.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
So why are metal fans so quick to forgive the multiple infractions? First of all, there aren’t a lot of new metal bands with the potential to top the charts. But maybe more importantly, Avenged Sevenfold have some talented players. Guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance are a formidable, charismatic guitar team that play impressive leads and harmonies to rival those of Priest or Maiden, and M. Shadows has a set of pipes that make him at least as skilled as half the dudes he rips off. Plus, the band sure know how to put on a high-powered stadium rock performance. But that makes their transgressions all the worse. If they’re such a great band, why don’t they make a great, original album?
If Avenged Sevenfold were new, their unabashed theft might be more excusable, but Hail to the King is the band’s sixth record. They spent their first two discs ripping off early Eighteen Visions and Bleeding Through before they even discovered Metallica and GNR. And what the fuck? Did they really think no one would cry shenanigans? They only stole some of the biggest hits from the most popular bands in the world. Clearly, Avenged already proved themselves, first with 2005’s City of Evil, which revealed their influences without coveting them, then with two more albums that strayed even further from their roots and gave them a more of their own identity. So what were they thinking when they decided to cut and paste other people’s shit into their songs? SHENANIGANS!
Actions Speak Louder Than Herds
In an interview with 103.9’s DJ Bobby Sato, Vengeance said of Hail to the King, "We styled everything back and went to the core of heavy metal instead of trying to overcomplicate it." Hmmm, that sounds an awful lot like what Metallica said back when they were ramping up for the release of the simple, straightforward melodicism of The Black Album. Okay, I don’t blame Vengeance or the rest of Avenged Sevenfold for wanting to scale back, but they took the lazy way out. They didn’t just listen and learn from other bands, they appropriated tones, tempos, textures, and fills. They inserted spoken word parts (similar to “Enter Sandman”) that didn’t need to be there and recorded a derivative, ultimately uninspiring album that sounds good, but has little artistic merit. Then again, Avenged Sevenfold probably don’t give a fuck about artistic merit. Like Metallica, they’ve always wanted to be the biggest band in the world, sell shitloads of records, and make tons of money. I mean hey, who needs integrity when you’re flying high, playing stadiums, and pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes in the process. In the case of Avenged Sevenfold, imitation may be the sincerest form of “Battery,” but as long as their piece sells… and the masses are buying, they’ll likely continue to believe their own hype and claim the media’s just out to get them—or at least that portion of the media that still has the balls to call out indolent rock stars.
MetalSucks doesn't agree with us, which you might like if you like things in the world that are wrong. Read their wholly illegitimate response here.