Metal Hammer spoke with Zacky Vengeance about “Beast and the Harlot” and looked at how it elevated the band into “genuine contenders.”
“I didn’t think that Beast And The Harlot would be a single or even a fan favourite, to be honest,” admits guitarist Zacky Vengeance today of Avenged’s most unexpected smash hit. “I just thought it was a cool song to start the album.”
“At the time, we were all listening to Velvet Revolver,” explains Zacky. “That was the first time in a really long time that Slash had been doing something like that and it was really exciting to us. So we wanted to incorporate a bit of that vibe.
“We wanted to come out blistering with the double bass drums and the guitars screaming,” the guitarist adds of the track’s furiously fast intro. “We wanted to make something that was super-fast and super-metal, but that still had a groove to it. That’s how we wanted to start the album; we thought that was better than having a slow piano build-up, which was typical of what we’d done on earlier albums. We came out of the gates swinging.”
“I never anticipated how much fans would end up liking the song live!” says Zacky. “I was definitely a little surprised. As I’ve gotten older, I get it. It’s driving, it’s got a great groove and it’s really unique.”
Lyrically, the song continued Avenged’s penchant at the time for Biblical tomfoolery, taking particular influence from The Book Of Revelation (‘There sat a seven-headed beast, 10 horns raised from his heads’). Musically, it remains their most full-throttle, pedal-to-the-heavy-fucking-metal moment yet, refusing to let up over a blitzing five minutes and 44 seconds as it wields together chunky riffs, lashings of guitar noodling and a driving, relentless drum-battering from The Rev. Oh, and then there’s that key change: completely ridiculous, desperately uncool and yet, somehow, totally badass. The video for the song also showed Avenged in a different light, establishing them as the new poster boys for party-hard, gunslinging, heavy metal excess in all its forms. In a post-nu metal era where the idea of the ‘guitar hero’ was all but dead, Avenged had changed the game completely, reminding everyone around them that the only way to make a true impact was to be big, bold and to follow your own path.
“Absolutely,” agrees Zacky. “What makes a band great is that they have to offer something that no other band can do better than them. Bands like Korn, Linkin Park, System Of A Down or Rage Against The Machine… those are the bands from my generation that live on because what they did was so unique. Those songs don’t necessarily belong on the radio but the reason that they work is because it’s what people need. At times, we’ve obviously worn our influences heavily on our sleeve, but we’ve also done a lot of stuff completely outside of the box and I think that’s what we’ll always be remembered for. Make something that pisses somebody off, or that makes somebody laugh or that makes somebody think. I want to make music that makes people want to pull their fucking hair out. Music that makes parents say to their kids, ‘Turn that shit off!’ Ha ha ha! In this day and age, especially, it’s really important to just do whatever you want. If it works, then it was meant to work and if it doesn’t, then fucking have fun doing it!”