Avenged Sevenfold – Black Reign EP

Gamers gotta game. It’s as simple as that. The same passion that drives people to obsess over game franchises isn’t too far removed from music fandom. Perhaps it is more intense and dedicated as a fanbase, especially when you consider no one has ever died from 118 hours straight of listening to Code Orange. Before the advent of music-based games had their moment in the culture, music has been an integral part of the gaming experience. As these two worlds collided from noble 8-bit bleeps to full-blown symphony productions, the has been a crossover. For every Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Bioshock Infinite, and Legend of Zelda, there are a lot of duds. However, few bands have had a winning association with a franchise like Avenged Sevenfold has with Call of Duty: Black Ops. With the advent of Black Ops 4, out now, the band has released their corresponding EP, Black Regin with the four tracks that are specially written to be woven into game-play.

The band recorded Black Reign last spring with Evil Joe Barresi, who also produced their last album The Stage (Capitol) This EP finds the band mining some of the same grandiose compositions they wrote for that album, but also delving deep into their history to blast some killer thrash N roll and even some metalcore breakdowns of yore. ‘Mad Hatter’ is the lead track and the lone new track. It was featured as the first song heard from the game, released at the same time as the title and with its live game feeling video. The track sounds more like recent A7X with hard rock riffs, a multitude of key changes and a slow, steady beat. It also has a lovely middle section that goes through a lot of dramatic parts before changing. This song is the equal of anything on the last album and is even a touch heavier in the drums. Great stuff here.

 

The rest of the EP will be familiar to gamers and uber-fans, but may be new to casual fans. ‘Carry On’ is a thrashtastic voyage with Shadows gritty tenor vocals soaring over blastbeats and riffs. As per usual the Zacky Vengeance and Syn Gates twin guitar army is out in force on this one.

‘Not Ready To Die’ starts with a somber, swirling organ part, but then explodes into almost seven minutes of double bass and metal riffs. Almost like a modern take on Randy Rhodes era Ozzy. Crushing and fun.

The best known Black Ops collabo the Avenged Seven-dudes are known for is CoD: III’s ‘Jade Helm’. Shit, the title even sounds freaking metal. After opening with some tribal drumming, we get the instrumental jam of jams, blast beats, start-stop machine0gun fire riffs and more. More of a collection of game motifs and soundtrack anthems than a true song, but still, a lot of fun to kill a bunch of zombies too.

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This is a neat compilation for fans of the Call of Duty franchise, and must buy for die-hards who may not have had a chance to own these songs before.

7.0/10

KEITH CHACHKES