This album does certainly not lack of variety, instead it is so much that the album practically drowns in it. It variates from the doom quire in "Requiem" and the "Sad But True" rip off known as "This Means War" to the groovy "Doing Time" and the heavy "Planets". This disturbs the rhythm completely and makes it feel like the band did not know where they wanted to go with this album.
There are some cool song ideas here and there. The riff work on the title track is exquisite, I love the heaviness of "Planets" and I like the sound of "Coming Home" (even if it sounds like a tougher Alter Bridge track). But it is not enough to save the album. The negative parts overpower the positive parts. I have already said that "This Means War" sounds like Metallica's "Sad But True", but it is not the only song that sounds like plagiarism. "Doing Time" could have been a early Guns N' Roses song and "Crimson Day" is just a ordinary ballad that we have already heard ten thousand times before. Do something original instead god dammit.
The overall performance is okay, but not impressive. M. Shadows still shows that he has a great voice and Synyster Gates lays down some great riffs here and there. And Ilejay? Well, He does a decent job, but I am still not sure if he is a fully good replacement for The Rev (even if I think that The Rev is a overrated drummer both before and after his death).
What happened with the typical A7X sound that we all know so well? Did The Rev take it with him to the grave? I sure hope not. 'Cause if he did, then Avenged Sevenfold may be taking the same disastrous road that Metallica went during the 90's. "Hail To The King" is far from impressive, and even if there are some good intentions in songs like "Coming Home" and "Planets", there is no clear direction that the album is heading towards and that ultimately makes an uneven album. So this album is nothing to kneel before nor hail about. It is just a member of a royal family that will never have an important role in anything special.
Songs worthy of recognition: Coming Home, Hail To The King, Planets
Rating: 5/10 Shepherds of Fire