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The Derivative Effect In Action with Avenged Sevenfold and Hail To The King.

All hail. The King has arrived. Good artists copy, great artists steal is the saying. I am really digging the new Avenged Sevenfold album. A7X said they wanted to make a classic rock/metal album in the vein of AC/DC – Back In Back, Metallica – Master of Puppets and Black, Megadeth – Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction, Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz, Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast and Powerslave, Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance, Vah Halen – 1984, Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction, Dio – Holy Diver and Black Sabbath – Heaven And Hell.

On release, it went to Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Once upon a time going to Number 1 was important, however these days, it is a fad. Longevity is the new importance. Does the album have the longevity? Will it be streamed forever and a day? My answer is YES it will.

On first listen you will hear influences (and on some tracks it is really obvious) from quite a few of the albums and bands mentioned above. They do it so well, it is hard to not like it. The lead breaks are brilliant and very Maiden like. They have gone for that sing along lead break. It will be interesting to see how those lead breaks translate to the very passionate and vocal South American fan bases. Overall, all the songs will work well in a live setting.

In the end A7X has definitely given a “popular band’s feel” to all the songs along with their own A7X bits and twists in between.

All metal and rock music and popular music in general has come to exist because of evolution, because of progress being derivative. It is never the result of creating something out of nothing that it is so original, it would blow everyone away.

“Live Wire” from Motley Crue released in 1981 borrowed from Girlschool’s “Yeah Right” also released in the same year.

“My Sanctuary” from Unisonic released in 2012 has a vocal melody that is very similar to the A Flock Of Seagulls song called “I Ran (So Far Away)” that was released in 1981.

“The Ghost Inside” from the band Vendetta released in 2012 is very similar to Michael Schenker’s “Desert Song” released in 1981. “Desert Song” is then very similar to what Michael Schenker did with UFO on the song “Love to Love” released in 1976.

“Hey Hey My My from Neil Young, released in 1979 is very similar to the song” I’d Love To Change The World” from Ten Years After released in 1971. In addition the riff to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” is also very similar to “I’d Love To Change The World.”

“Ten Black Roses” from The Rasmus released in 2008 borrows from Muse’s “Showbiz” released in 1998.

“Life is Beautiful” from Sixx AM released in 2007 borrows it’s Chorus from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” released in 1993. The song “Beautiful” from the band Since October released in 2006 has a verse that is influenced by “Come Undone” from Duran Duran. The chorus riff also borrows from the same song. In addition, the song Come Undone is a derivative work from an earlier Duran Duran song called “First Impression” released in 1990.

The song “This Is It” from the band Staind released in 2011 has the chorus vocal melody that borrows from The Offspring’s “Gone Away” chorus melody.

Anyone that listens to the above examples, will be able to note the similarities from beginning to end. This is what I mean by the term progress is derivative.

By taking similar phrasings and chord structures, A7X was able to reinvent a past work with a fresh perspective. They have created new songs that are rooted in the past. That is why we as fans appreciate music so much. It is all built on something that came before. What makes the song unique and great is the musicians ability to express it and play it. If James Hetfield was a flawless virtuoso, I am sure the Metallica songs would have sounded a touch different, maybe less personalised and more sterile. If Motley Crue was a bunch of virtuosos then I am sure it would have been a different band. Good or bad, we will never know, however what we do know is that musicians sound the way they do because they are influenced by emotions and by their technical ability on the instrument.

It is produced by Mike Elizondo. Mixed by Andy Wallace and Engineered by Adam Hawkins.

Management is Larry Jacobson and Alex Reese for World Audience.

Shepherd Of Fire

The rain and the bell at the start and the feedback riff with the evil tri-tone is influenced from the song “Black Sabbath”. The main riff is very “Enter Sandman” like and it also has touches of Megadeth like the songs “Disconnect” from “The World Needs A New Hero” and “Trust” from Cryptic Writings. Since Metallica got the “Enter Sandman” riff from a band called Excel, we can safely say that progress is derivative. The drumming in the Intro, After The Solo and Outro is very “Enter Sandman” like, which Lars Ulrich said is based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track:
“We intentionally wrote it as an intro track. The idea was that the arrangement would evoke a sense of imagery with the tribal yet primordial drums. It seemed to resonate from Hell almost. It’s something of an apocalyptic call to arms. I love the arrangement. We wanted to set up the album and foreshadow what was to come, being that it’s a groove-based, riff-oriented record. We haven’t really done Zeppelin-style or Sabbath-like riffs before, so this is our version of an album that’s along those lines.”

Hail To The King

From the outset this song has that Iron Maiden vibe. The intro reminds me of “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere In Time” album. The chorus reminds me of the song “Sign Of The Cross” from “The X Factor” album. Synester Gates said that he was playing a lot of “gypsy jazz guitar – Django Reinhardt and a few others”, so for the intro, he took those techniques and metalized it. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track:
“The whole solo is based on minor blues changes. I like it when it transfers to that regal feel, which aligns with the lyrics. A lot of people get confused and think that it’s neo-classical, but it’s really gypsy jazz.” 

Doing Time
This song is a Guns N Roses merged with WASP. The whole intro has got that “You Could Be Mine” / “Welcome To The Jungle” vibe. The vocals in the verse remind me of GNR and The Cult. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track;

“This was a Mike Elizondo suggestion. He was hearing a kind of low vocal, swagger-based rock song, sort of a quintessential ‘80s or ‘90s vibe but with a very modern approach. It’s a bad freight train that never stops.

“For this solo – and for all of them, actually – I tried to just jam with the songs instead of being overly analytical about what I was doing. I sat with Mike and the rest of the guys, and I would play until everybody was on board with the way it was going. The main thing was that I wanted the songs to influence my playing rather than me imposing a signature style on the music.”

This Means War

Three words. “Sad But True”. With each listen I keep on enjoying the album just a little bit more. The songs flow well together and with similarities aside (seriously “This Is War” is a very ballsy song to release due to how similar it sounds to “Sad But True”) the album has a pretty epic feel to it. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website about the track;
“We wanted a really impactful, riff-based intro but one that would also feature our dual lead harmony approach. It’s pretty cool how it fits into the slow groove of the track and just hammers through.

“This song is becoming one of my favourites. I’ve been really enjoying watching people listen to it because it so fits the vibe of the album. When they hear it, they start moving, and they don’t stop. Sometimes, with more progressive songs, you lose that feel somewhere along the line, but This Means War never quits – the energy is always there.”

“All of my solos were improvised initially – I would go in and get my bearings and see what I came up with. I was hearing something chaotic in the intro, a machine-gun spray that would build into something more melodic.”

Requiem

This is classic Euro metal. It has that vibe. It’s got that Yngwie Malmsteen / Swedish metal influence. The choir at the beginning reminds of Carl Orff “O Fortuna”. The Metal Sucks website calls this song a “Kashmir” rip off and while I get that aspect, this song is one of those songs that is a little harder to pin down. The vocal part were Shadows screams “In Flames” reminds me of “No More Lies” from Iron Maiden, that came out on the “Dance Of Death” album in 2003. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Rader website;

“The choir in the beginning is great. I’m very excited about how this song turned out. We wanted the foundation to be a metal band’s approach to classical orchestration.”

“Matt’s vocal is more like a lead violin part, and when my guitar chugs underneath the riff, it’s almost like what low brass would do. We layered each element very carefully, and the result is one of the more cinematic tracks on the record.”

“The solo was a fun one. I don’t do a lot of wah stuff, so I had a great time playing around with that. The wah gave it an added dimension and colours, some new life.”

Crimson Day

This is what Synester Gates had to say about this song on the Music Radar website.

“That’s a clean-sounding electric guitar on the opening, not an acoustic – there were no mics on the guitar involved, just on the amps. It’s one of my favourite clean tones I’ve ever fucking heard.”

 “We stumbled onto it by accident, actually. There were a few secrets in getting it, mainly that it’s a baritone guitar with a capo on it so I could play it in open E standard tuning. It has a really sick, rich, sparkly sound. Seriously, I’m so proud of how it turned out.”

“We wanted the song to have huge drums and be an epic rock ballad. It has a sombre vibe, but it doesn’t make you fucking sad all the way through. We were listening to a lot of Elton John, some Ozzy ballads and some Zeppelin. Actually, the lyrics are inspired by my nephew, so the song has a very personal meaning to me.

Heretic

Like This Is War, the song is very ballsy as it is like Megadeth’s – Symphony Of Destruction. Overall it has that Megadeth feel to it and yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates said on the Music Radar website:
“This was probably the first song that we wrote for the album, so there’s a bit of a throwback to the old, traditional Avenged stuff. It’s a little progressive, but we wanted to maintain some space in the arrangement so the drums could shine and the riffs and vocals could breathe.”

 “That’s a pretty important point, really, because we tend to fill things to the brim with guitar harmonies, vocal harmonies, lead things going in and out. Leaving a feeling of air made a big difference in how all of the parts stood out.”

“This is a lot of guitar, though, some big moments. If you’re not the biggest groove fan – and it you’re not, you should be – there’s still a progressive element. So it’s a mix, this song, and it worked out really well.”

Coming Home

This song is weird. I am getting an overall Iron Maiden feel but its hart to pin point exactly what. I’m sort of getting “Ghost of Navigators” for the verse but there is something else, which might not even by Maiden, maybe WASP? I am starting to sound like a psychic. The Harmony guitars at the end is Megadeth, “A Toute Le Monde.” Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates said about the song;
“Another Mike suggestion. He wanted us to do something upbeat, but we wanted to make sure that it didn’t get hokey – we’ve done upbeat before, and sometimes things can get a little too cutesy and sugary. Our goal was to have a darker, more serious tone, which can get lost when you increase the tempo.” 

“It’s very adventurous, but it maintains that upbeat vibe. There’s some great drumming on it, and I’m really excited about the guitar work. The solo is big. Instead of doing a vocal bridge, we decided to do one with the guitar and have it take you places. I think it fits with the imagery of the lyrics, which are very personal but still presented in a way that people can relate to it. The words are very ‘storytellery,’ concerning travel and endeavours, but they’re not necessarily concerned with present time. The guitar stuff goes hand-in-hand with all of that.”

Planets

The way the drums are in the Intro it reminds me of a song that I cant put my finger on. Kiss comes to mind, something from the Psycho Circus album. Also the riff. Yep familiar, not sure what like though, riff is similar to the outro of “Broken” except heavier, Bridge bit is Pantera: “Mouth of War” for the drums. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Radar website;
“To me, the last two songs, in addition to being my favourites, make up the best ending to a record we’ve ever had. Lyrically, Planets is the precursor to Acid Rain; it’s about a meteoric, intergalactic war that results in an apocalypse and the human species aligning together to go fight something much better than us, our individual trials and tribulations.”

“Musically, the song was incredibly difficult to write and pull off – the elements of dissonance, tension and resolution. We wanted to have that friction throughout, but it still had to be palatable; it couldn’t be like listening to Penderecki or Stockhausen. There had to be a relate ability and connect ability to it.”

“We really toiled over the track, but it turned out great. I’m so fucking excited about it.”

Acid Rain

This is Gary Moore – “Still Got The Blues/Parisienne Walkways” merged with GNR – “November Rain”. The Solo is definitely “November Rain’ish.” Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Radar website;
“It’s a cool way to end the record – not a typical ballad, but it’s not soft or sugary, either. The song takes you to an emotional place, especially if you pay attention to the lyrics, which are some of the best Matt has ever written.

“The song is about coming to the realization that you’ve lost the battle, but at least you’re with that one special person who matters. It’s something of an apocalyptic love story, which is pretty unique for us.”

In the end what we are hearing is a mish mash of different artists, a verse from one artist, a chorus from another artist, an intro riff from another and with the A7X little elements chucked in.

Of course, it’s not a bad form to go with, the only issue here is that some sound so close that they are unmistakably obvious, or perhaps that was the point. I wonder if they are going to see some action over it?

When I first heard the album, the first thing I did was Google, “Avenged Sevenfold copied” and heaps of pages come up. To me, it all comes down to this. Music is a sum of our influences. A person that hasn’t heard a piece of music can say that what they created is original as they have not heard anything else before that. However for all of us, music is a sum of what we have heard, mixed in with our style and ability to play those influences.

So will there be any action of these “similarities.” I see it as a double edged sword.

Because the bands they are “ripping off” are popular I don’t see how those bands can bring some action against A7X. They haven’t taken anything away from the original versions of those songs. If anything it’s made me interested to go back and listen to those songs to see if I can pick up more similarities. Those bands should be posting things like, “Thanks to Avenged Sevenfold for bringing attention to our song Symphony Of Destruction on the song Heretic from their new album Hail To The King. Check out the Megadeth version here.” That is what they should be doing.

However, if they borrowed or where influenced from unknown bands, like how Metallica and Led Zeppelin did, then I am sure that the unknown band/artist would be bringing action to the band, however I still believe it is a stupid idea. Use it to your advantage in other ways. Point to it. Market yourselves like the example above.

In the end Avenged Sevenfold released an album that has people talking about. We are engaged with it, talking about the influences we hear on it and the similarities to other artists. Some are negative, some are positive. In the end we are engaged with the product and we are forming a relationship with it.

For the record, I ripped the CD of the album and then I gave the CD to a few friends to rip on their own computers so that he can listen to it. WHY? I wanted them to listen to it so that we can talk about it.

Nah, people are talking about it on the web. The first thing I did was Google, “Avenged Sevenfold copied” and heaps of pages come up. To me, it all comes down to this. Music is a sum of our influences. A person that hasn’t heard a piece of music can say that what they created is original as they have not heard anything else before that. However for all of us, music is a sum of what we have heard, mixed in with our style and ability to play those influences. Show me someone who says what they wrote is “original” and I’ll show you a liar. Everything has been written, we are just a sum of our influences and how we interpret those influences through our own individualism, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

For action against them it’s a double edged sword.

Because the bands they are “ripping off” are popular I don’t see how those bands can bring some action against A7X. They haven’t taken anything away from the original versions of those songs. If anything it’s made me interested to go back and listen to those songs to see if I can pick up more similarities. Those bands should be posting things like, “Thanks to Avenged Sevenfold for bringing attention to Symphony Of Destruction on the song Heretic.” That is what they should be doing.

However, if they borrowed or where influenced from unknown bands, like how Metallica and Led Zeppelin did, then I am sure that unknown band would be bringing action to the band, however I still believe it is a stupid idea. Use it to your advantage in other ways. The same way the big bands should use it. It’s always better to enforce positive approaches in order to take advantage of whatever scenarios are encountered.

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