For any metal head or anyone who’s into rock and heavy metal, there’s no need for an introduction of Avenged Sevenfold. Formed in 1999, this heavy metal band has never been shy to take up unorthodox topics and express them with pure and raw emotions through their guitar riffs and drums. The band was founded by James Sullivan, Matt Sanders, and Matt Wendt. From the name of the band, one might think that they are religious as it’s a reference to the story of Cain and Abel. However, they’ve not made any religious music. What’s more, is that heavy metal was often frowned upon in the Christian community and up to some extent, still is. It was considered to be the devil’s music, but the society has progressed and most people have recognized the band’s contribution to the popular culture.
The single “Critical Acclaim” was a part of the band’s fourth studio album of the same name as the band itself, Avenged Sevenfold. It’s a song about the music industry as well as a self-reflective song for the band. It takes shot at the high society of America – the elites which also includes the rich mainstream artists.
What does the Title mean?
The title of the song “Critical Acclaim” is quite self-evident. It doesn’t hold that deep of a meaning. Coupled with the lyrics of the song, it is about the music industry’s craving for an approval from the critics and consequently, becoming famous and rich. It is about how music artists fail to keep their music ‘real’ in order to pander to the critics. Yet, that’s just an undertone when it comes to the lyrics. The lyrics of the song are quite direct and self-explanatory. The band takes shots at everyone who demeans the working class and the majority of middle-class Americans who are labelled stupid by the elite as well as quite a few artists for being ‘uneducated’. The song is highly political in nature.
Verse 1 – What does it mean?
“(Shh! Quiet, you might piss somebody off!)
Like me, motherfucker, you’ve been at it for too long
While you feed off others insecurities
You stand in front of me and bite the hand that feeds”
Sung in the traditional deep and ‘screamish’ heavy metal voice, the song opens up with a line that seems like a warning to the industry. This line would often repeat in the song and will start to make sense as the song progresses. It’s about reining in the opinions and judgements of elite artists as well as the high society in general about the uneducated masses. The band asserts that these are the very people that keep the rich as well as the rich inside the music industry alive. They are the hands that feed them. They are their audience, and they understand all too well how the society is structured. Apart from that, the band also acknowledges that they themselves have taken shots at how the elections are organized in the nation and the power-dynamics of the country. Thus, it makes the song self-reflective as well as a diss to other artists. Feeding off of the insecurities of the people is something upon which many pop artists survive. For instance, a part of this process is setting up an unachievable beauty standard as well as showcasing riches in music videos.
Pre-Chorus 1 – What does it mean?
“Self-righteousness is wearing thin
(Lies inside your head, your best friend)
Heart bleeds but not for fellow men
(Broken glass, your fake reflection)”
Avenged Sevenfold begins by addressing the fact that most artists are too inside their own head and out of touch with the reality outside. Their best friends are the lies that they’ve conjured up about themselves in their heads. They feel self-righteous by calling out people for having different ideologies or different cultures, and whatnot. The first pre-chorus is a perfect set up for the chorus wherein the anger of the band is expressed
What does the Chorus mean?
“I’ve had enough, it’s time for something real
I don’t respect the words you’re speaking
Gone too far, a clone”
The band comes clean that they don’t respect the words spoken by artists these days. They’ve gone too far beating the dead horse of trying to “wake up people”. It is quite hypocritical to wake people up to oppression, even though you are a big part of that oppressive system and contribute to it regularly. According to Avenged Sevenfold, it is time for something real and this song as well as this album is it for them.
Spoken Words 1 – What do they mean?
“So, how does it feel to know that
Someone’s kid in the heart of America has blood on their hands
Fighting to defend your rights so you can maintain the lifestyle
That insults his family’s existence?
Well, where I’m from we have a special salute
We aim high in the air towards all those pompous assholes
Who spend their days pointing fingers
The spoken words are pure commentary. They are not sung, and that adds an air of sincerity and raw emotions to them. The first part refers to the soldiers who’ve signed up for the army and went to kill. Music artists often take shots at the army and the soldiers, yet fail to realize that these soldiers have no options other than signing up for the army to feed their families. On the other hand, the artists themselves lead comfortable and flashy lives by dissing the system, which also includes these soldiers. The artists are protected by the soldiers who fight for the government (It is important to note that the band is not defending those who sit in the white house). Only then, they are able to maintain the lifestyle that they have, and that too, by insulting their families for sending their children into the army.
In the last part, the band explicitly expresses their anger towards those fake artists who make money by insulting those who protect their freedom as well as buy their music because they too understand that they’re wound up in an exploitative system.
Verse 2 – What does it mean?
“(Shh be quiet, you might piss somebody off)
Like the heartbeat of this country when antagonized too long
I’ll be damned if you count me in as part of your
Generous hypocrisy, collecting enemies”
The antagonization of the nation, patriotism, and army is a recurring theme in most mainstream genres. Yet, it is quite hypocritical because the artists themselves appear to think that they exist in a vacuum outside of this system. That’s the very hypocrisy that Avenged Sevenfold points out.
Pre-Chorus 2 – What does it mean?
“Tabloid gossip queen, worthless man
(There’s no need for us to bury you)
Selfish agenda once again
(Right this way, you dug your own grave)”
“Tabloid Gossip Queen” and “Worthless Man” are references to the music industry and the Hollywood celebrities who fail to see their own hypocrisy. They just protect their own agendas and their own wealth. They are no different from the system that they speak out against, and they’ve gone too far as people are beginning to realise that.
Spoken Words 2 – What do they mean?
“All the way from the east to the west
We got this high society looking down on their very foundation
Constantly reminding us that our actions
Are the cause of all their problems
Pointing their fingers in every direction
Blaming their own nation for who wins elections
They never contributed a fucking thing
To the country they love to criticize”
These spoken words once again describe in detail how the high society and the elites shift the blame to the actions of the middle-class and working class when it comes to elections. When a particular party comes into office, they outright label the citizens stupid. Yet, they themselves don’t even need to vote because they can maintain their wealth and positions regardless of who comes into power. On the other hand, the masses depend upon the government for their lifestyle, from wages to social security.
What does the Bridge mean?
“Excuse the obscene, ignore the untrue
Depictions we see, try and get through
Admitting mistakes can hurt
I’m not the last but I sure ain’t the first”
The band ends the song with the words that the listener should excuse the profanities and whatever they deem untrue. The band itself admitted to the fact in the beginning that they’ve jumped on this bandwagon too. And now, they’re putting out something real; something raw. Something that has been said before and will be said again.
What does the Hook mean?
“(Shh! Be quiet, you might piss somebody off)”
The warning to the high society and the elites repeats once again, hinting at the fact that people might just get fed up of them.
The song made riffs in the whole music industry when it came out. It was regarded as the band’s one of the best songs. Although, the critics at that time were a bit too hesitant to comment on this song. Thus, many reviewers chose to focus on other songs from the album. However, today, it is a song that is critically acclaimed, quite ironically. But that isn’t a bad thing. Various artists have realized the hypocrisy of their selves as well as the music industry of the past. Avenged Sevenfold’s prediction in this song was accurate – they weren’t the last to speak these words.