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Avenged Sevenfold – Carry On

It’s a shame that Avenged Sevenfold’s Carry On is gaining a lot of popularity simply because it’s featured on the popular videogame Call of Dury: Black Ops II’s soundtrack, because the song stands on its own and is arguably one of the band’s best songs to date yet.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start listening to Carry On is that Avenged Sevenfold has abandoned the Nu Metal trappings that have plagued some of their more popular songs. For one thing, it opens with a leaner-sounding, yet airtight shredfest from Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates, featuring a blistering guitar solo that is sadly few and far between these days.

The shredfest is supported by Johnny Christ’s rumbling bassline, which does its level best to provide a solid bottom end without completely disappearing under the sonic rubble. On top of it all, M. Shadows has fully emancipated himself from the limited vocal stylings associated with modern alt rockers, and shows that he’s got enough control of his range to alternate between a rock croon to a modern theatrical growl without missing a single beat, and without sounding out of place. Of course, there’s the pounding outro that brings to mind rock anthems from the likes of DragonForce. Not bad for a band that was once compared to Linkin Park (blame it on the Chester Bennington-like bridge on Afterlife)

At the end of the day, let’s hope that being featured on a popular First Person Shooter’s soundtrack brings Avenged Sevenfold to a wider audience, and convinces them to do more songs that are on the same level as Carry On.

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AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long

Iconic Australian rockers AC/DC were already experiencing a bit of a resurgence this past few years, thanks to Marvel’s Iron Man movies featuring some of their best hits for its soundtrack. It seems that Hollywood has finally discovered how good AC/DC’s trademark brand of short yet intense hard rock works well as soundtracks.

You Shook Me All Night Long, in particular, has been used copiously by many TV shows and movies, with its gnarly stanza riffs capable of making shoulders bop, until the fist pumping chorus kicks in and does exactly what it says, it shakes you all night long.

You Shook Me All Night Long’s lyrics is easily one of its key factors. While Brian Johnson has admitted that he wrote it based on the story of a night with a beautiful woman, the double entendres and vaguely sexual lines lend themselves well to just about any subject. The line “she was a fast machine…” was applied by Hollywood to everything from cars to Iron Man’s Mk. III armor to yes, even loose women.

Currently, You Shook Me All Night Long is considered as one of AC/DC’s most recognizable songs, competing with Back in Black and Highway to Hell on most lists and rankings.

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Muse – Madness

Critics who claim that English alternative rock band Muse has already jumped the shark probably haven’t heard the latest single, entitled Madness, yet. The song is classic Muse, not in the sense that it sounds like their old songs, instead it continues the band’s practice of taking several mismatched genres and blending them all together to produce a unique, infectious song that can still be categorized as rock.

Much like the mental condition, Madness starts out slow, with steady beat from the drum machine that brings to mind early 90s slow dance hits from George Michael or Mick Hucknall.

At first listen, you may keep thinking that you’re hearing the song’s intro, waiting for the overdriven guitars, the thumping bass, and the pounding drums to kick in, but you’ll be waiting a long time because the slow groove doesn’t change until you get to the third of the song – that’s when the smooth guitar solo kicks in and it crescendos into a wall of guitars, punctuated by lead singer Matthew Bellamy’s powerful voice.

Even if Muse really did jump the shark (with their 2012 Olympics song, Survival, being the most likely culprit), Madness proves that the band can turn around and tame the shark instead, that they’re still the same Muse they still belong to the upper rungs of the British alternative rock scene.

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Metallica – Enter Sandman

Most music critics point to Metallica’s album Load as the point in the band’s career when they “sold out”, due to the band’s decision to depart from Heavy Metal both in their image and their songs, but rabid fans and purists will point to the Black Album, particularly one of its singles – Enter Sandman – as the point where Metallica “sold out”.

Of course, the claim that Metallica turned their backs on heavy metal during the Black Album is harsh and a bit of an overreaction. The album and its songs still belong to the heavy metal genre. The only difference is that the songs are a bit more radio-friendly and commercially viable, and that’s not a bad thing at all – Enter Sandman on its own brought Heavy, Speed, and Death Metal to the attention of music lovers who would not have checked the genres out if Hetfield and the gang didn’t dangle a softer brand of Metal in their faces.

That’s not to say that Enter Sandman is soft. It features angular chord progressions, thumping basslines, growling vocals, and featured a heavily overdubbed rhythm guitar track that features Hetfield playing and recording the same riff three times in order to create a sound he describes as “wall of guitars.”

Many fans of metal’s heavier, rougher acts (such as Metallica’s earlier material) were introduced to it via Enter Sandman. If you’re looking for a jumping off point for the genre, or just want to be reminded of the time when Metallica managed to toe the fine line between commercial and niche metal, you should check out Enter Sandman.