The Drop: Chronicle’s guide for the music store

Avenged SevenfoldAvenged SevenfoldWarner Brothers RecordsTwo out of five stars

Love ’em or hate ’em, pop metallers Avenged Sevenfold know how to write a solid rock song. The Maiden-influenced power metal of “Afterlife” and “Lost” make this skill epically clear as M. Shadows’ vocal pop hookery soars high above dueling guitar solos and massive walls of distortion. As the motley crew descends from these metallic heights through strata of pseudo-Pantera sludge, jock-rock mosh and bizarrely schmaltzy balladry, this self-titled effort reveals one powerful universal truth about rock music: Just because a band knows how to write a good rock song, doesn’t mean it always will.

The Future of the GhostFreak OutSelf-releasedFour out of five stars

It’s a rare pleasure to open up a new record from an unfamiliar artist, enjoy it, then learn it was born from the soils of one’s very own stomping grounds. Surprise, Salt Lake City’s The Future of the Ghost play humble indie rock that’s sure to make any Land of Zion music fan proud. Freak Out‘s strong sing-alongs and brash lyricism avoid the sappier sides of the indie rock game. While a refreshing dose of punk angst and D.C. dissonance makes tracks like “Counterculture in the Twenty-First Century” and “Take It All Apart” haunting reminders of an age in which underground artists cared little for crafting next-big-thing pop hits.

Serj TankianElect the DeadSerjical Strike/Reprise Four out of five stars

If you’re familiar with the name Serj Tankian, you’re likely thinking one of two things right now. For diehard System of a Down fans: “This better not be some watered down solo pop record.” For the rest: “This better not be another crappy nu-metal record.” Luckily, both fears are put to rest in the strikingly insurgent protest songs of Serj’s debut solo effort, Elect the Dead, as the SOAD frontman charts sonic territories from folk to metal and political realms from neo-colonial warfare to environmental desecration. Fearing no border, whether it be musical genre or militarized checkpoint, Tankian succeeds in employing musical innovation as a courier for socio-political warcry.

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