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America’s favorite mall metal sons, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, make their highly anticipated major label debut with City of Evil. In a seemingly bewildering move, the band abandon their Swedish tinged punk-meets-hard rock/metal sound in favor of an 80’s traditional heavy metal/melodic hard rock/European power metal sound. Who knew that these young men would eventually end up sounding like STRATOVARIUS or Yngwie Malmsteen!?! Strangely enough, the band (outside of vocalist M. Shadows) replicates the sound with relative success. Don’t look for any radio hits either as each song averages about six minutes in length. Lead guitarist Synyster Gates leads the attack with his awesome guitar skills. He is not to be denied as he shreds his way through the whole album. It’s quite unfortunate that vocalist M. Shadows brings it all down with his poor performance, especially given the fact that the songwriting has been tuned for a lead vocalist. He’s ditched his growls and screams and now exclusively relies on clean vocals. Tattered and hoarse, he limps his way through most of City of Evil. Not only does he sound half-assed, his knack for writing some catchy vocal lines has soured as well. Given this combined with the scattered songwriting, the album subsequently suffers to the point where City of Evil is meaningless. Who knows what went wrong and who gave the green light for this. Either way, one mall metal band down, a trillion to go. (Warner Brothers)