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VERSUS: Waking The Fallen vs The Fall of Ideals
Welcome to Versus. The series where we look at two albums in metal history, compare them to each other, and see which one was the better record.
In this edition of Versus, this one was inspired by a YouTuber. I am a huge fan of musician and Youtuber/Twitch Streamer Nik Nocturnal. With the popularity of his segment "How To (insert band) in 30 Seconds", his own progressive metalcore band Termina, and his own signature bass plugin NocturnalBass for Kontakt that was announced late last year. He has become a popular figure in the YouTube metal community. His love of metalcore, himself shouting "'Core Kid For Life" almost in the vein of a callout before a breakdown, inspired my inner core kid to create this matchup. Not only two of the most popular metalcore albums of the 2000's, but two of Nik and mine's favorite albums. Practice your 5-7-8 guitar tab playing, throw some arms in the pit of your local Denny's, and dive into this matchup I'm calling "Metal To The Core Pt. II: The 2000's After Dark"
In this corner, we have Avenged Sevenfold with their second album Waking The Fallen. This would mark the debut of guitarist Synyster Gates and bassist Johnny Christ to the band. The album was also the last album from the band in their metalcore sound, changing their sound on the follow up. Cited by fans and critics as a cornerstone of the metalcore genre, along with popularizing and stereotyping the 5-7-8 guitar playing style that would become a trademark of the genre. The album, a more refined sound compared to their debut Sounding The Seventh Trumpet, would begin to show influence of other metal genres like traditional heavy metal, death and thrash in the band's sound. Does this release stand the test of time and earn this metalcore act the victory?
After the operatic, triumphant and somewhat ominous opening of the album's title track, the album kicks off with one of the most iconic opening riffs in metalcore history with "Unholy Confessions". With that classic metalcore opening guitar tone and playing, mixed with fast paced drumming by The Rev. The song kicks off with the raspy screams and clean vocals of M. Shadows. With a breakdown right after the verse, the song's intensity picks up before Shadows' clean vocals hit high in the mix. Accented by the dueling guitars of Zacky Vengeance & Synyster Gates. The main riff returns at the halfway mark, but with Shadows' high screams with so much grit, it makes you miss that delivery on current releases. A second breakdown-like chugging part, into a bridge, then back into another breakdown, just makes you wanna jump in the pit and go nuts when the riff picks back up. Especially with the bending notes sections and the drums matching it. Ending the song with one more bending guitar breakdown and double bass adding another flurry of aggression to the close of the track. A strong opening track for the album and a classic in the metalcore genre.
"Chapter Four" starts off with an impressive drum fill by The Rev, as the song's riff and distortion-heavy feedback builds tension before the song kicks into gear. With an amazing mixture of Shadows' harsh screams, juxtaposed with his clean vocals, add an almost call and response feel when hearing it live. The grandiosity of the pre-chorus section, with beautifully mixed backing vocals drenched in reverb, and church bells in the background. Adding such depth to this section. Then, the song's pace picks up with the awesome delivery by Shadows on the chorus' opening line "I've Come Here To Kill You/Won't Leave Until You Die" which is just an instant aggressive hook. The song shows the band upscaling their sound to a much more grander sound, both in performance and production. I also love the dueling harmonies on guitars going into the bridge at the halfway mark. I love Shadows bellowing, gritty vocal at about the three quarters mark, especially with the orchestral section, and the return of the church bell. Adding such range and dynamics to the song's grandiosity.
On "Remenissions", the song starts with a heavy opening drum fill, soaked in reverb, along with blast beats. Vocals come in gritty, guttural and deep as the drums match. The guitars almost channel traditional heavy metal, mixed with black metal in the tremolo like guitar playing. Guitars are heavy and aggressive in the mix, with The Rev's snare punching through in-between the breaks. The guitar chugs into gritty distorted notes, mixed with Shadows' haunting ooh's in the background, and shrieking highs front and center, transition beautifully into an acoustic guitar passage. The Rev's drumming at the halfway mark, picks up the pacing of the song, into an impressive mini drum solo before the guitars kick back in. A good follow up and shows the band's complexity in their instrumentation and uniqueness with the acoustic sections in-between the heaviness. "Desecrate Through Reverence" starts with a doom-metal tinged opening riff, very slow and ominous in the playing and chord structure. Then we speed up with the guitars picking up the tempo, and kicking off the song with clean vocals, segueing into guttural high screams. The song is almost groove metal in its sound and tone, almost in the vein of Pantera in its style, but with a higher guitar tuning and guitar tone. Shadows is strong on this track, and the star of the track. His vocals are mixed perfectly, having just the right amount of reverb & chorus, adding such depth to his screams and accents to his clean sections.
"Eternal Rest" begins with one hell of a guitar wail into a shred heavy opening guitar solo. The song is just right out of the gate, foot on the gas pedal and relentless in its speed. It has that thrash/crossover energy right off the bat, before going into a more groovy and chuggy riff, slowing the pace of the song down into an instant stank-face inducing feeling. Especially when the double bass kicks in. The song, to me, DEFINITELY has that Pantera energy, attitude and delivery to the track throughout the whole song. Really showing that the band was already on to something with this sound continuing on the follow up album City of Evil. The grittiness of the vocals, fast paced drumming and simple but heavy guitars at the halfway mark, create that slow, groove like riff and sound that just sounds so good in a pair of headphones. The organ on the chorus at the halfway mark, again showcases the band's willingness to make their sound heavier, while making epic in it's delivery. The opening of "Second Heartbeat" has a great opening, almost Iron Maiden like guitar riff with thundering drum fills and builds, into an In Flames style riff and vocal delivery. With the chugging breakdown-esque riff, the song has elements of death metal, infused with that melodic metalcore sound that Avenged Sevenfold nails with this record. The following track "Radiant Eclipse" has the eerie and distorted opening guitars, with pounding tom hits and ringing guitars behind it. Creating a sludge metal sound similar to Crowbar. A slower song with more dirge and depth with the bass of Johnny Christ during it, transitioning between groove metal and sludge.
Next is the two part piece of the album. "I Won't See You Tonight (Part 1)" features a beautiful opening piano piece, opening this eight minute epic, before turning into an almost hard rock/post-grunge guitar sound. With guitar wails ringing in the space, the song slows down to mid-tempo dueling guitar pieces, before drums and vocals kick in. A somber vocal delivery by Shadows, the song has the feel and aura of an arena rock power ballad. Imagine, Shadows singing the verse section with a sea of lighters in front of him and the amazing string sections performing behind him. The atmosphere of the song, almost gives off a "November Rain" by Guns and Roses in its sheer grandiosity, layers of production and overall emotional execution of the song. "I Won't See You Tonight (Part 2)" has the opposite with an aggressive and pissed off opening with Shadows' gravely and gritty screams kicking off the song with fast paced, down picking guitars. A more straightforward, angry and furious sounding track, that with its sound, delivers a complete opposite effect from the part 1 version. With that groove metal guitar tone and vicious vocals by Shadows on the track. An impressive shredding, frantic and chaotic guitar solo takes over after the halfway mark, which any guitarist would call that run impressive. "Clairvoyant Disease" has another slow simple opening riff, drenched in atmosphere in the guitar tone and the simplicity of The Rev's drumming mixed with some punch, but not dominant in the mix. The band's heavy metal-leaning sound is more prominent on the song. Less are the manic, intricate metalcore guitar sound and a more classic or traditional heavy metal fusion, the direction the band would begin to head towards for future releases. The album's closer "And All Things Will End" opens with chugging and ringing guitars behind a pulsing drum section. Shadows goes for the gusto on the vocal performance, belting his heart out with cleans and screams. The band delivers one last complex piece, with sweeping guitars, emotional guitar playing at times, while also delivering some groove heavy breakdowns. All leading to the grand crescendo of the song, closing out the album as the song slows down almost to a crawl, matching the listener's roller coaster ride of this metalcore classic.
Their opponents is All That Remains with the band's third album The Fall of Ideals. Produced by Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, the record would feature Shannon Lucas on drums and the first album with new bassist Jeanne Sagan. The album shifted their sound from their previous album This Darkened Heart and its melodic death metal sound, and going more into a melodic metalcore sound that the band would continue playing following this release. With production by a metalcore legend, a new direction, and new blood in the band, do this Massachusetts metalcore act stand out and rise above their opponents with this album?
With vocalist Phil Labonte's opening guttural screams, the album opens with "This Calling". With an almost machine gun style opening riff and through the verse, the song transforms into Labonte's clean vocals in the chorus before returning to their melodic death metal sounding opening. The classic metalcore guitar tone can be heard at the halfway mark. With a simple, dueling guitar effect by Oli Herbert & Mike Martin. Then the breakdown hits with pinch harmonics, deep guttural vocals and double bass. The song segues into a wailing guitar solo by Herbert before hitting the closing chorus. Then Labonte and company come back with one more machine gun riff and double bass before closing out the song with a quickened pace and one last scream from Labonte. A strong and great opening track, showcasing the band's new direction with this release.
The other stand out track from the album, and is my personal favorite track from the album is "Not Alone". With its intricate opening guitars, into dueling sections, then joined by bassist Jeanne Sagan & drummer Shannon Lucas, the song opens again with another chugging riff with Labonte's gutturals ringing out. The booming double bass, into the vocal highs of Labonte on the chorus just sound so good as it transitions back into the main riff. The song has such a catchy, earworm chorus, especially with the harmonies on the end of the chorus. The guitar solo at the halfway mark has so much emotion and dynamics in it, especially with the dueling effect and layering in the mix. Its a great juxtaposition from clean harmonies to chugging, double bass riffing. The song is just a strong showcase of the band NAILING their new metalcore sound and is truly one of the band's best songs. "It Dwells in Me" continues the chugging, palm muted guitar playing, accompanied by Labonte's call to the sky clean vocal highs, as he goes back to growls during the verse. Herbert & Martin are just straight riff machines on this album. Creating that classic metalcore sound, with elements of melodic death metal, and heavy metal in its soloing pieces. Especially with the guitar solo section after the halfway mark into the breakdown piece.
"We Stand" has a classic melodic death metal sounding opening, into that ringing, almost hanging like guitar notes, as the song immediately gets your head bobbing as the verses kick in. Labonte's vocals are strong and demanding, channeling an almost hardcore like presence in the delivery that you'd hear from acts like Hatebreed or fellow metalcore acts Killswitch Engage. The breakdown with the syncopated guitars, with the addition of double bass and deep, gritty bass guitar, just add to the breakdown and instrumentation of the song. Then segueing into another emotional guitar solo by Herbert, which shows how truly underrated he is as a lead guitarist in the metalcore genre before his passing. On "Whispers (I Hear You)", opening with beautiful, spacious acoustic guitar, before returning to strong metalcore-like guitar playing with deep gutturals in-between the chugging. The addition of acoustic guitars during the chorus, amidst the distortion, adds a unique layering effect, almost a beauty among the destruction. With start, stop pacing and chugging metalcore/melodic death metal like riffing, I can picture the crowd going crazy in the pit during this song as it goes into another impressive guitar solo by Herbert into the breakdown. A strong performance from the whole band, firing on all cylinders throughout the track.
"The Weak Willed" has an almost death metal opening to the track. With driving, almost tremolo like guitar playing, blast beats and Labonte's gutturals on the song. It almost could be the heaviest sounding track on the album with its sound. The song is almost the band getting one more death metal like song out of their system before going full metalcore. It's heavy, its groovy at some moments, and its brutal in it's delivery. On "Six", the band returns to the metalcore sound with the opening guitar playing. With Labonte's snarling vocals into the verses, the song delivers those trademarks of metalcore with growling main verses, clean highs in the backgrounds, into the chugging pre-chorus. Lucas' double bass punch through the mix and pummel the ears while the riff builds. I love the clean guitar tone section before the rest of the band comes back and accents the guitar of the track. The gutturals remain with the opening of "Become The Catalyst", pounding double bass starts the track, with riff machines Herbert & Martin keeping the fire alive and intensely burning with the energy, matching Labonte's all over the place highs and screams. I love Labonte's cleans vocals mixed on the track, he has just the right amount of reverb and vocal effects to accent his cleans but not get drowned in or sound too much artificial or studio heavy.
"The Air That I Breathe" has a heavy, crowd building opening into a chugging Gothenburg/melodic death metal sound in the guitars and drums. The guitar is such an earworm of a riff, with Labonte delivering one of his strongest vocal takes. With elements of his trademark guttural lows, high screams and a pretty strong clean vocal on the song. It might be his best performance on the album. The rest of the band is just matching his vocals perfectly with the energy and the emotional guitar tone in the performance and sound. The song has an instant bang your head feel to it, especially going into a slow headbang feeling at the guitar solo at the three quarters mark. The passion and emotion in the playing, just adds to the energy and feel of the track before returning to the awesome sounding opening riff. "Empty Inside" has another heavy opening double bass and strong sounding riff. With blast beats, Labonte's screams and chugging riffage, the flurry of that throughout the song, just sound so heavy and good. Showing the band fully hasn't left the melodic death metal sound just yet. The building tom hits, drenched in reverb, sound so good over the guitar playing and just gives this juggernaut like feel to the anticipation of the guitar solo, which doesn't disappoint. The album's closer "Indictment" is another pummeling double bass, machine gun riff opening. This is starting to form the band's trademark metalcore sound in the guitars and drums. Labonte's mix of gutturals and screams sound great over the breakdown-style riff of the chorus. Shredding his throat one last time to the album's conclusion, ending what some would say is the band's defining record.
After listening to both albums and reminiscing of the memories I had listening to these records in high school (realizing God I'm old), who stands atop of the melodic metalcore mountain in this matchup? In my opinion, the winner is Avenged Sevenfold with Waking The Fallen. With Fallen, you can hear the influence that this album would have with the guitar tone, vocal performance and sound. The increased grandeur and instrumentation with strings, choirs, and organ, just makes the album like "cinematic metalcore". The songs are just stronger in their sound, performance and as a record overall. With The Fall of Ideals, the record is good and the band does nail the metalcore sound they were aiming for, but I do feel that some of the songs were good, but didn't have quite the same punch as it's competitors. I am a fan of Labonte's vocals on the album and in the band's sound, which is definitely a strong performance on this record, and the guitar playing by Herbert, does prove to me that this is the band's best record. But at the end of the day, it also comes down to which record would you listen to again after you finish it, and to me, Waking The Fallen makes me want to play it again. Making it the winner of this matchup.
Avenged Sevenfold would dramatically change the band's sound with the follow up to this release with their breakout album City of Evil. Aiming more towards a traditional heavy metal sound and featured less growl vocals and more clean singing. The album hit the mainstream with the success of the single "Bat Country". The band would continue the success with their self-titled follow up in 2007. Tragically, drummer The Rev would pass away during the production of the band's album Nightmare. In the interim, progressive metal drumming legend Mike Portnoy of Dream Theatre would fill in with the band during the making of the album. The band would hire drummer Arin Ilejay as their new permanent drummer, making his studio debut with the band on 2013's Hail To The King.
The band's most recent album, 2023's Life is But A Dream... received critical acclaim, while also being one of the most divisive records in the band's discography. Some praising the progressive elements and unique song directions from the album, and a willingness to take risks and break the mold of their metalcore/heavy metal origins. Others claiming the band strayed too far from their roots, almost shocking the fan base with some of the song-making decisions on the album and causing the fanbase to cry out "This isn't MY Avenged". Only time will tell if this record holds up in the fanbase or becomes a cult classic over time.
All That Remains would follow up the success of The Fall of Ideals with Overcome in 2008. Following the success of the lead single "Two Weeks", the band would continue touring along with popular acts like Lamb of God and Gojira. The band was active making new music almost on a two year schedule, with the releases For We are Many in 2010 and A War You Cannot Win in 2012 with the latter showing the band begin to incorporate a more hard rock/heavy metal leaning sound, similar to their opponents today. The band would fully dive into that sound with The Order of Things in 2015 and even treading into alternative metal waters with the 2017 album Madness, which featured a popular cover of Garth Brooks song "The Thunder Rolls".
Tragically, the band would lose guitarist and founding member Oli Herbert in 2018. His last appearance with the band was on the band's most recent album in 2018's Victim of The New Disease, with the band returning to their metalcore roots with this album. Critics said that this record was some of the band's best work and a fitting swansong to Herbert's contributions to the band. The band hired Jason Richardson, of Chelsea Grin and Born of Osiris fame, as their new guitarist, replacing the late Herbert. All That Remains are currently in the studio working on their tenth studio album, no release date has been announced at the time of this article.
Do you agree with my decision? Who do you think should have won this matchup? Cast your vote on the poll below, leave your comments on our social media, and your suggestions who you think should step in the ring next. I’m Justin, your friendly neighborhood metalhead, for This Day in Metal and this has been Versus.